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THE ARTIST'S PALATE (NOT PALETTE)

I love and collect wine, but I don't consider that I have a discerning palate. I like or dislike a wine. It tastes good or it doesn't. I can recognize most grape varieties, but when it comes to the oenephile's abilities to taste tobacco, pencil shavings, grass, certain berries, licorice, etc., forget it. (One winemaker wryly described his wine as tasting like a Bedouin's underpants.) It's dry or it's fruity or jammy or delicate, fine. I can do that. My wife and I were at a winery tasting one afternoon. We were quite familiar with it. The gentleman pouring recognized me and was pouring a blended red wine. "Can you tell what grapes the wine maker used in this blend?" he asked. Well, I knew the grapes in all his varietals, so I said, "I taste cabernet, zinfandel, syrah, and perhaps a touch of grenache," I said. The poor guy almost fainted. "Oh my God," he almost screamed, "What a palate." He ran away from his station looking for the winemaker, who he dragged back to me. "You've got to meet this guy," he said to his boss. "What a great palate. He pinpointed everything." The winemaker shook my hand, not particularly impressed, thankfully, because he might have wanted to talk technology. I had no idea what the hell was in that blend. Sometimes, it doesn't take much to impress people.

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