By Gp. Capt Kapil Bhargava (Retd.)
Scientists tell us that if your nose is firmly blocked and if you are blindfolded, you can’t tell if you are eating apples or onions. Obviously, the apple must be crisp otherwise its squiffiness will give it away. During my test pilots course in England, a doctor from the next-door Institute of Aviation Medicine took some students for a few quid. At the school’s bar, he challenged anyone to name eight different types of liquor blindfolded with a clip on his nose. The contestant was allowed to select any drinks he liked. If he lost, he had to pay one pound to the doctor and bear the cost of all the drinks.
Many people chose very different types of liquors like whisky, beer, wine, crÃ¨me de menthe etc. The idea was to make them so different that spotting them would be easy. Everyone who tried ended up making the good doctor richer.
“Which?” magazine in UK educates and protects consumers. Once, it ran a trial for tea tasters. Four different brands of tea were brewed for the tasters to identify. All of them got these right. One taster was even able to identify if water had been drawn from the hot water tap and if milk was poured before the tea. His advice for anyone wanting to enjoy tea was simple. Sip a little, hold it in the mouth and breathe through the nose. You get the real flavour of tea then.
But even with the best noses some tasters fall down badly. Candid Camera on the TV tricked several wine tasters in one show. It put out four identical glasses with the same red wine in each of them. Then it asked professional tasters to rate the four in order of their quality. Not a single expert discovered that he was trying the same wine. Everyone had a laugh at their cost – all’s fair in TV and war.
Wine tasters never swallow the wine they test. They just get a little in the mouth and breathe deeply. A really good nose is a must for this business. Surprisingly, the professionals can tell where the wine was produced. They are also able to identify the fruits that have gone into it. All this is very impressive. The trouble comes when they want to describe the wine. The language of these experts has now become really bizarre. A wine may be called naughty, pretentious, risquÃ©, arrogant, or even transcendental. The next time you watch a wine taster on the telly, listen carefully to his words. You might pickup some new terms to impress your true love.
Talking of love brings us to the most important use of the human nose. Women try to attract men with the most seductive perfume they can find. According to the ex-CEO of a famous perfumery, this whole business is bunkum. He explained that perfumes produce no effect on a man’s libido. Sexual signals are passed by odourless pheromones. It may still be the nose that detects them. An Indian doctor in the UK has recently discovered that men can detect when women are fertile. Pheromones secreted mainly from a man’s underarm produce remarkable results in women.
Before you throw away your soaps, powders and deodorants, beware. Women are put off fastest by smelly armpits.