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The 'fine art' of wine-tasting - Curt Yeomans

I never knew, until recently, that wine could burn a person's entire mouth like it was mouthwash, leaving a trail of scorched tissue wherever it goes.

I always thought wine was just something you had with a meal, but I learned on a trip to the Robert Mondavi Winery, in Oakville, Calif., that I had to follow a multi-step process to properly enjoy wine.

At least, the experience taught me why wine connoisseurs sniff their wines before tasting them. It is to make sure the quality is good.

Many of us have probably seen, at least once, someone sticking their nose into a glass of wine and sniffing it. Well, I learned that you smell it once to make sure it hasn't gone bad.

Then, you swirl it around the inside of the glass a few times before sniffing it again.

If the wine is good, it is supposed to smell the same during the second sniff, as it did on the first sniff.

To be honest, sniffing finished wine is a heck of a lot better than walking through the room where the fermentation process takes place, and getting a whiff of that odor.

I think I have smelled that exact same odor in college, coming from weeks-old pizza sitting on the desks in many a college dorm room.

I can say this much, it is certainly a strong smell.

But, on to the part about burning sensations. During a wine-tasting at the winery, everyone in my group was told to take at least three sips of each of the three wines we tasted.

On the first sip, we were told to swish it around the insides of our mouths for several seconds (like we would do with mouthwash), before swallowing the wine.

The idea was to actually taste the wine, with our taste buds, before swallowing it.

When we did that, on the first sip, with the first wine, our mouths burned like heck afterwards.

Then, we took the second sip, held it in our mouths for a quick second to get a better feel for the taste, before swallowing. The idea is that with each sip, our mouths burned less, and less, and we were able to savor the taste more, and more.

Well, after a few swigs of wine in this method, not only were we feeling more, and more, relaxed and uninhibited, but we eventually got to the point where our mouths had become numb to the burning, and we could just taste the wine.

I'll admit it, though. I felt lush with life afterward, which my friends would say means I was a lush (some would add "as usual").

On the other hand, my mouth did feel fresh and clean!

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5.