In a bid to understand why certain wines are such a hit with red meat, scientists found that oral astringents like wine, tea, sorbets and pickles have an opposite taste.
Tastes of beef are exact opposite and during the course of a meal, the combined tastes are working to reduce the opposing sensation.
"The opposition between fatty and astringent sensations allows us to eat fatty foods more easily if we also ingest astringents with them," said study author Paul Breslin of Rutgers University and the Monell Chemical Senses Center.
Researchers also found that people like oppositely paired tastes also because of the body's need for a diverse diet.
"The mouth is a magnificently sensitive somatosensory organ, arguably the most sensitive in the body," he said. "The way foods make our mouths feel has a great deal to do with what foods we eat."