Oysters and champagne are considered a perfect match and finally science has an explanation why, with new research from the University of Copenhagen finding that the two foods contain complementary sets of umami flavors that act “synergistically” to enhance taste, working together harmoniously.
The research, published Wednesday in Nature Scientific Reports, claims to offer the first scientific explanation as to why oysters and champagne work so well together.
Professor Ole Mouritsen, one of the study’s authors, says the answer lies in the umami taste in oysters and champagne, a somewhat surprising discovery given that umami is most associated with meat.
Umami, also referred to as savoriness, is one of the five basic flavors the human tongue can detect, alongside sweet, salty, bitter and sour.
Certain chemicals in champagne and oysters pair well to “spark an umami synergy… that greatly enhances the taste of the champagne,” explains the study’s lead author Charlotte Vinther Schmidt, with the champagne’s acidity and bubbles also contributing to the overall impression.
Mouritsen says older vintage champagne pairs best as they have more dead yeast cells that provide an umami flavor, while oysters’ umami flavor comes from its muscles.
Mouritsen says a better understanding of umami synergies could be used to get people eating more vegetables. “By being cognizant of umami synergy, one can make any vegetable tasty,” he said. “And, it is my firm belief that if we want more people to eat more vegetables, we need to deal with the fact that greens lack umami.”
Umami synergy as the scientific principle behind taste-pairing champagne and oysters (Nature Scientific Reports)