New York: In case of alcohol, variation in bitter taste does get more complex because alcoholic beverages contain flavours and tastes that may mask any aversive effects of bitterness.
Now, a new study finds that alcohol drinking evoked sensations differ among people as a function of genetic variation - providing some insight into a possible reason why some people may avoid alcohol.
Prior work shows that some people experience more bitterness and less sweetness from alcoholic beverages like beer.
"In general, greater bitterness relates to lower liking and because we generally tend to avoid eating or drinking things we do not like, lower liking for alcohol beverages associates with lower intake," explained John E. Hayes, an assistant professor of food science at the Pennsylvania State University.
The study examined the relationship between variation in alcohol-related sensations and polymorphisms in bitter taste receptor genes previously linked to alcohol intake.
Researchers picked the two bitter receptor genes because both had previously been linked to differential alcohol intake.
"In contrast, variation in the burn receptor gene has not previously been linked to differences in intake but we reasoned that this gene might be important as alcohol causes burning sensations in addition to bitterness," Hayes added.
The findings indicate that genetic variations in taste receptors influence intensity perceptions.
"This is the first study to show that the sensations from alcohol vary as a function of genetics," Hayes noted.
The study was also the first to consider whether variation in the burn receptor gene TRPV1 might influence alcohol sensations.
The results are to be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.