The old “tongue map” from our elementary school textbooks has been roundly debunked. Experimental confirmation of “umami” expanded Westerners’ traditional four basic tastes—sweet, sour, salty, and bitter—into five. But did you know those 5 basic tastes might actually be 6 . . . or 7, 8, or more?
Advances in the technology and techniques available to researchers have led to significant new discoveries in taste perception. Receptors have been discovered in the last few years for “tastes” long assumed to be entirely smell or texture dependent. What tastes have you been tasting your whole life without even knowing it?
Source: You Have Better Taste Than You Realize
Since the full sensation of carbonation involves both taste receptors and pain receptors, you might also just not enjoy the pain. But there are “supertasters” who are significantly more sensitive to taste than the general population. Women are much more likely to be supertasters – 35% of women vs. 15% of men.
Spicy (and menthol) triggers the non-taste general sense cells (which is why it also burns if it gets in your eyes, or up your nose, or even on your skin in sufficient doses). Several non-Western cultures consider “spicy” or “pungent” to be a basic taste, but within the scientific community’s current general understanding of “taste,” it isn’t one.
Taste researchers do work to isolate smell from taste when they’re doing experiments, because even a tiny bit of odor can go a very long way. Just a whiff of vanilla, for example, can make people think they’re tasting something sweetened, even if it contains no sugar at all.
Somewhat surprisingly, nose clips are usually enough to keep smell out entirely. Because they cut off airflow on one end of the nasal cavity, they also stifle airflow past the back end where it opens into the back of the mouth. Sometimes in rat experiments the researchers will go even further to seal things off, but with humans the clips are generally enough to be sure that their subjects are tasting, not smelling.
…but you could use a little more salt.