Winery's sensory class teaches how to taste

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Forgeron Cellars tasting room employees Tiffany Wishart (left) and T.J. Hutchins (right) compare the clarity and color of two of the winery's white wines during a sensory class designed to help participants pick out specific aromas and tastes in wines.

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Framed through the curving edges of a wine glass, Jean Carwile Masteller appears to experience an in and out of body experience during Forgeron Cellars' sensory class Saturday afternoon at the winery. Her husband Richard Masteller sits across the table from her as the two listen to winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla talk about the nuances of sensing different aromas and tastes.

WALLA WALLA - The basics of taste - sour, sweet and bitter, minus the salt, but add viscosity - were taught at Forgeron Cellars on Saturday afternoon, at what Marie-Eve Gilla likes to call an entry-level class on the senses and wine.

"The whole idea is to show that everybody's threshold is different to different substances," Gilla, Forgeron Cellars' winemaker and instructor, said with a heavy French accent.

Twenty-one people tasted individual cups of water with bitter, sweet and sour chemicals. Salt was left out of the equation because most people are very familiar with that flavor, Gilla explained.

Cups were sipped, notes were taken and the chemical concoctions were spit out into plastic cups, all in hopes of being able to better understand what is being tasted in wine.

"I am just hoping to be able to distinguish better," said Cathy Spanish. "I am trying to get there. You hear so many buzz words. And I am trying to get my tasting better."

But sometimes people won't be able to taste certain aspects of wine. On average, Gilla said 10 percent of the public will lack the taste receptors needed to distinguish a particular substance in wine or other food, while another 10 percent might barely be able to taste that same substance. But for the most part, the other 80 percent will be able to taste that flavor.

Once the basics of distinguishing sour, sweet, bitter and viscosity were finished, the real stuff was brought out for lips-on teaching of how to taste wine.

"It is just a little more education and feeling good about and learning their own particular sensitivities to the aroma and flavors in a wine," Tasting Room Manager Anne Hull said.

Forgeron Cellars offers its sensory class two to three times per year. Cost is $15; $10 for Forgeron wine club members. To get on the notification list for the next class, e-mail anne@forgeroncellars.com.

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