One of the most enjoyable aspects of Japanese cuisine is how it stimulates the senses: exquisite presentation, delicious taste, enticing aroma, distinctive texture and unique sound.

The last one stands out most in comparison with Western food culture. While the sounds involved in the consumption of food are minimized in the West, for fear of embarrassment, they are celebrated in Japan — consider the noisy sound made when Japanese slurp noodles: tsuru tsuru (ツルツル).

The Japanese language is filled with words that imitate the sounds we make when eating. I learned many of them several years ago as a sommelier at Nihonbashi's Takashimaya department store, where colleagues would use them when talking to customers. I too began using this specialized vocabulary to sell wine. A very drinkable low-alcohol wine is one you can gabu gabu nomu (ガブガブ飲む, drink heartily) — reproducing the sound of gulping it. One that is a bit fizzy is shuwa shuwa (シュワシュワ), while a sweet, cloying dessert wine is beta beta(ベタベタ) — from the word bettari (べったり, sticky).