|A quick Google search throws up scores of scholarly articles about the accuracy of women's taste buds as opposed to men’s, how women use the right side of their brain to process sensory information when wine tasting whilst men prefer the factual, left side and how far more women than men are so-called 'super-tasters' with more than their fair share of taste buds on their tongues.
But taste buds aren't everything when it comes to being a good wine taster, and, as everyone knows, there are a lot of practical aspects to swirling and spitting. With this in mind, this month I shall be considering some of the different physical attributes of men and women and asking whether, when it comes to wine tasting, are breasts best, or is a beard the bees-knees? For the purposes of this study, people who possess both, such as Karl Marx or Father Christmas, will be excluded as they have an unfair advantage, but here are some initial thoughts on the subject:
• Drip stop. Wine tasting, like eating sushi, is best done in dark clothing. But if you have a protruding bust before you, it means that anything you inadvertently dribble remains 'up top' and you can wear pale pants with impunity, thus increasing your wardrobe options of a morning. Personally, I prefer paisley patterns on my shirts – much harder to spot any drool which may escape the spittoon. Whereas a beard, unfortunately, tends to grizzle even at a young age. And, as we all know, grey shows every mark. Winner – women.
• Storage facility (part 1). You know those tastings where they give you a plastic lanyard to hang round your neck for holding your wine glass? Well, if you're a woman, then you can totally ROCK that look by wedging it securely and comfortably between your boobs and carrying on as normal. I once saw a woman dance a vigorous Marengo on top of a piano with a full glass of Cotes-du-Rhone fitted snugly between her breasts. And she never spilt a drop. Winner – women.
• Storage facility (part 2). If you choose to use your hands to carry your wine glass, then it's always useful to have somewhere else to keep all the paraphernalia of wine tasting. I find the average bra can easily accommodate a corkscrew, a foil-cutter, a couple of drip stops, notebook, pencils and a spare cork or two, leaving your hands free to swirl and pour the wine with aplomb. Apparently Jancis Robinson keeps a whole set of vintage charts going back to the 1920's in hers, but she is – as we know – an exceptional woman. Winner – women.
• Food and wine matching. Sometimes the best food and wine matches are unexpected and inspired. And it is here that a beard comes into its own. If you happen to be storing small items of food in it for a snack later on, then there are immediate possibilities for testing out theories and potential matches as you taste the wine, thus saving time and promoting creative and unusual combinations. You can also store water biscuits or crackers there as well, to cleanse your palate in-between wines. Winner – men.
• Food and wine matching – the downside. Of course, the problem about using your beard as a snack box is that anything particularly odorous you may be keeping in there, such as Gorgonzola or Sauerkraut, is apt to interfere with your ability to taste. If you find yourself using descriptors such as 'funky', 'pungent' and 'sweaty' for wine, then perhaps it’s time for a quick comb. Winner – women.
So there are just a few pro's and con's for either side. On the basis of this brief round-up, it seems that having boobs makes you a better wine taster than being a beardie. Unless, of course, you know different...