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Wine talk encourages Wine Stroll patrons to expand their palates

Stephen Callis, of Silver Spring, volunteers in The Urban Winery booth at the Westminster Wine Stroll on Main Street on Sunday, April 2, 2017.
Stephen Callis, of Silver Spring, volunteers in The Urban Winery booth at the Westminster Wine Stroll on Main Street on Sunday, April 2, 2017. (Alan White / Carroll County Times)

More than 30 people attended Rachel Lipman's "The Wine Tasting Experience" presentation prior to the third annual Westminster Wine Stroll on Sunday afternoon. Lipman, who is the assistant winemaker at Loew Vineyards in Mount Airy, hoped to make attendees "more comfortable trying different wines."

Lipman explained people may not consider themselves wine connoisseurs but "if you like wine, then you can call yourself a wine person."

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City of Westminster Marketing Consultant Missie Wilcox said Lipman's talk helped make the Wine Stroll a "holistic experience."

"By starting with the wine talk, people can learn the nuances of the wines they're trying," Wilcox said. "We hope that participants can immediately apply what they learned."

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Lipman encouraged attendees to "appreciate a wine for what it is, challenge yourself to try new wines and keep an open mind."

Haelee Pettingill, left, of Reisterstown, sister Olivia Pettingill, of College Park, and Matt Fisher, of Westminster, share a bottle of wine along Main Street during the Westminster Wine Stroll on Sunday, April 2, 2017.
Haelee Pettingill, left, of Reisterstown, sister Olivia Pettingill, of College Park, and Matt Fisher, of Westminster, share a bottle of wine along Main Street during the Westminster Wine Stroll on Sunday, April 2, 2017. (Alan White / Carroll County Times)

Lipman said the Maryland wine industry has really progressed in the last 20 years. Maryland grows a lot of hybrids, crosses between two species of grape, that are a little hardier and more resistant to diseases. Different growing practices and techniques make each wine unique.

"The winemaker has a huge influence on how the wine turns out," Lipman said.

She discouraged the group from picking wines based on the label.

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"Try hand labeled and more rustic looking wines," Lipman said. "Just like a book, you can't judge wine by its cover."

Lipman also explained the three S's: Swirl, sniff and sip. If trying several wines, she encouraged attendees to spit.

"In this setting don't feel like you'll offend anyone by spitting," Lipman said. "It helps you appreciate different wines."

Lipman said "every palate is different." Different flavors can be perceived by different parts of the tongue. She said sweet is perceived on the tip of the tongue, bitter is in the back and sour is noticeable on the sides.

A sample of white wine pours into a glass along Main Street during the Westminster Wine Stroll on Sunday, April 2, 2017.
A sample of white wine pours into a glass along Main Street during the Westminster Wine Stroll on Sunday, April 2, 2017. (Alan White / Carroll County Times)

"The more you expose your palate, the more wines you'll find you like. The more foods you try, the more flavors you'll taste," Lipman said.

Ethel and Ken Spence, of Manchester, attended the presentation prior to the Wine Stroll.

"It was extremely informative," Ethel Spence said. "She helped me get a better understanding of the palate and continually encouraged you to try different wines. Now I'm curious. I'm going to do different taste tests."

"It was a nice general approach to wine and wine tasting," Ken Spence added. "I knew to be open to different flavors but she reminded me of what I need to think about when trying different wines."

The Spences' in-law Terry Spence, of Westminster, also attended the discussion.

"I thought she was a great speaker. She was so cool and down to earth," said Terry Spence. "When I used to open wine and it had a foreign smell, I would turn it away but she encouraged us to take a chance and test our palates. I usually drink nothing but sweet wines, but today I'm going to expand my taste buds with other wines."

Part of Main Street is blocked off during the Westminster Wine Stroll on Sunday, April 2, 2017.
Part of Main Street is blocked off during the Westminster Wine Stroll on Sunday, April 2, 2017. (Alan White / Carroll County Times)

Nancy Barth, of Westminster, said she also learned more about her palate.

"I had no idea there are different places to taste different flavors on your tongue," Barth said. "I usually go for sweet wine, but today I'm going to try a nonsweet wine and see if I like it."

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