Magazine article Sunset

Bacchus Basics: In California's Wine Country, Learn How to Smell, Taste, and Blend Your Own Wine

Magazine article Sunset

Bacchus Basics: In California's Wine Country, Learn How to Smell, Taste, and Blend Your Own Wine

Article excerpt

Cantaloupe, chocolate, black-berries, green pepper--what do I smell? At 8 A.M., when I'm more used to sniffing Starbucks than Cabernet Sauvignon, I'm a little slow at picking up the finer points of a wine's bouquet.

But I quickly get into the swing of it. I'm in Wine Boot Camp--a program offered at different locations throughout California's wine-growing regions. In just 12 short hours, joined by other "recruits" for a lively tour of Sonoma County vineyards and wineries, I'll whip my wine nose into fighting trim.

For the moment, here at an inn in Santa Rosa, I am a rank enlistee. Fronting me are 21 paper cups filled with likely smells--bits of fruit, spices, honey, jam. "Educate your noses," our instructor, "Major" Barbara Drady, commands as she pours wine for each of us. We swirl. We sniff. I raise my hand.

"Uh, it smells like wine."

This is not the right answer.

"Pencil shavings, a bit of smoke," declares another recruit in brisk tones that sound very convincing. …

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