Taste is defined as a single sensation, whereas a flavor is a combination of multiple sensations experienced at the same time. Flavor involves taste and smell. Approximately 80-90% of what we perceive as “taste” actually is due to the sense of smell. This is because some scent molecules volatilize and travel up to the olfactory organ through the passage at the back of the throat that connects to the nose. Since we can only taste four different true “tastes”, it is actually smell that lets us experience the complex, mouth watering flavors that we associate with our favorite foods.

Flavor vs. Taste

The difference between flavor and taste can be illustrated by holding your nostrils closed while eating a lemon. The sensation perceived as the lemon’s sourness cannot be distinguished from that of of the vinegar’s sourness. When the nostrils are released, however, the citrus scent from the lemon or the fruitiness of the vinegar becomes apparent.

Flavor is as much an emotional aspect as it is a chemical one. The emotional connections that one has to certain foods determines their likability or tolerance for those foods.