If you have ever been out to a multiple-course dinner or wine tasting, you may have been served a drink, treat, or snack in between courses or varietals you didn’t order or expect: a palate cleanser.
Originating in France, palate cleansers have now been adopted worldwide. They are usually refreshing and light, but they serve different purposes depending on what you are consuming. For example, if you’re eating spicy food, a palate cleanser will soothe your tongue; if you’re having a multi-course meal, a palate cleanser helps you appreciate the different ingredients included within each course. Below are some examples of the most common palate cleansers.
The Classic Palate Cleanser
Sorbet is the classic French palate cleanser that is served between courses. Unlike sherbet or ice cream, sorbet is water-based. You will likely receive a lemon sorbet because of its mild and fresh flavor. Other palate-cleansing sorbet flavors include cucumber, lime, or grapefruit due to their crisp or sharp properties.
Wine Palate Cleansers
When you go wine tasting, you may be brought small bites of cheese or fruit between varietals; but more often than not, the best palate cleansers are plain white bread and water. You don’t want to have flavored bread or sparkling water because it will affect the flavor of a wine.
Cheese Palate Cleansers
When you are eating a variety of cheeses, the best way to enjoy each flavor is to have a palate cleanser between each cheese. Common cheese palate cleansers include:
- Fresh Apples: You may see grapes, berries, and figs on a cheese board, but apples are the perfect cleanser because of their natural acids. They also pair well with bleu cheese.
- Sparkling Water: Fizzy or sparkling water with a hint of lime juice will rinse your palate of residual fat. The citrus will sharpen the taste buds when tasting creamier cheeses like brie.
- Crackers: Plain crackers are to cheese what white bread is to wine. They enhance the flavors of the cheeses and make them more enjoyable.
The next time you have a palate cleanser, take a moment to notice the difference it makes to your taste buds!