If you were to take a look at most of the reviews left on some recipes, you’d be cringing. They’re almost laughable bad. There’s nothing worse then seeing “This recipe tastes good, but I don’t like how “strawberry-y” it is”. There’s literally nothing to be gained from that review. And this is not to be insulting, it’s more just a lack of understanding. Most people aren’t well versed in culinary vocabulary, and most people aren’t writers. So I wanted to write a quick cheat-sheet to help you better describe recipes. This will help you describe your own recipes better to others and describe what your tasting from other peoples recipes better as well. The more detail you use, the easier it is to understand what you’re tasting, and how to fix it if needed.
Lows – Dealing with the lower end range of flavors. These are usually the bases & the heavier flavors.
Mids – Dealing with the mid range or body of a recipe. Usually contains the body of the main notes.
Highs – Dealing with the high-end range of a recipe. Usually contains brighter, lighter, and sharper notes, as well as main notes
Balance – Dealing with how well the notes contrast each other. A well balanced recipe isn’t too forward or bass-heavy
Detail – A detailed recipe is able to portray each and every note with clear precision.
Clarity – A recipe with great clarity means each note and flavor is portrayed vividly and clearly without any murky or muddiness
Sugary – If something is sugary, this means there’s an abundance of sugar involved. Usually pertaining to sucralose. If something is too “sugary” this means the sucralose is overtaking other flavors, and can even overtake sweetness.
Jammy – Pertaining to fruits that are sticky, slightly gummy, with a loss of texture. If something is too jammy, this usually means the recipe “melds” together, where notes between fruits as well as texture are lost.
Harsh – Pertaining to the feeling of roughness, or a jarring experience. Can also pertain to the physical characteristics of a vape. If a vape is harsh, it means you get a rough feeling on the throat. If a flavor is harsh, this can mean its abrasive, and far too powerful in a mix.
Timbre – The specific tone of a flavor note. For example, different strawberries have different timbres. They all may have the same note, but may provide different “tones”.
Airy / Wispy – Deals with the openness of a recipe. If a recipe is too airy or wispy, this usually means it’s flat in flavor, with little to no depth.
Sharpness – When a flavor cuts through a recipe, or through other flavors, without muddying them or muddling the recipe, it is sharp.
Astringent – A flavor that is biting, cloying, or sharply bitter, it is astringent. Lemon is usually tart and sour. Lemon Pledge is astringent.
Caustic – When a flavor or recipe is too acidic.
Medicinal – If a flavor or recipe tastes medicinal, this means it tastes artificial and chemical. So much so it tastes like “medicine”.
Fragrant – If a flavor or recipe is fragrant, it means its aroma or smell is present and noticeable. Usually dealing with floral notes, but can also deal with fruits/candies. A recipe that is too fragrant may mean that the recipe’s aroma is too overwhelming.
Richness – A rich flavor means it is full and robust. The richness of a specific note determines how present it is in a mix, and how well it is presented. Something too rich may mean it is too full and overwhelming.
Moreish – If a recipe or flavor is moreish, it means it’s “addicting” and gives a feeling of wanting more. Usually dealing with bakeries like cakes and cookies.
Imaging – Pertaining to the positioning of specific notes in a recipe. If a recipe has great imaging, this means you can taste WHERE the base notes are, where the mid notes are, and where the high notes are. Bad imaging means the recipe doesn’t have much space or clarity between notes.
Flavor-stage – Dealing with the space between notes. If a recipe has a large flavor-stage, this means you can taste the space between notes, almost creating a 3D flavor effect. Imaging deals with the flavors ON the flavor-stage. So a large flavor-stage, can allow for great imaging. But you can also have good imaging with a tight flavor-stage. You can also have a large flavor-stage and bad imaging.
Accuracy – Does the recipe taste like what it’s meant to taste like? Do the flavors taste like what they are supposed to taste like? If so, they are accurate.
Decay – The speed at which a flavor fades away. A fast decay means the flavor dies off quickly. A long decay means the flavor lingers around.
Energy / Energetic – Energy deals with the “excitement” of a recipe or flavor. A high energy recipe means it’s bright and bouncy. The opposite of dull and droning.
Congestion – If notes overlap on top of each other, if flavors are smashed together, and everything feels constrained, then the recipe is congested.
Muddy – If a flavor profile or recipe isn’t presented in a clear manner. Opposite of clarity.
Impact – if a flavor or recipe has impact, this usually means it hits the palate hard or with force.
Sibilance / Blinding – If a recipe’s high are too bright and harsh, then a recipe is sibilant. If a recipe’s highs are so bright it overpowers the rest of the mids/bass than it’s blinding.
Ripeness – If a flavor is “ripe” it means its portrayed in its most optimal state. Usually deals with fruits.
Naturality – If a flavor or recipe has “naturality”, it means it is being presented in its most natural state, and does not taste altered, or artificial.
Succulent – If a flavor or recipe is succulent, this means it’s juicy and luscious. Almost mouth-dripping.
Obviously, these aren’t ALL the terms available to us. I will do my best to update this list as more come to mind, and feel free to leave some suggestions down below in the comments. But hopefully these terms can help you describe your recipes, or others’ recipes, better and with more detail. Using more detailed language just makes it easier to understand exactly what you’re tasting, as well as make it easier to diagnose any issues. Do your best to try and pin point specific aspects of a recipe and describe them with as much accuracy as possible. Rather than say “this recipe tastes flat and boring”, try saying instead “The low end of this recipe is a bit muddy. Maybe using flavors with more energy in the low end will help add some more detail and clarity to the mix”. That statement makes it much easier to understand why you don’t enjoy the recipe, as well as your thoughts on how to fix it. And instead of sounding like an asshole, you sound more like you care about the progression of the mixer. So do your best to review recipes with as much detail, respect, and care as possible, and the mixing world will be better off because of it.