Master sommeliers give tips before 2022 Naples Winter Wine Festivals

Published: January 26, 2022 9:37 AM EST

On Saturday, master sommeliers will descend on Southwest Florida for the 2022 Naples Winter Wine Festival.

The wine experts are from all over the country, from the Napa Valley to New York and everywhere in between. Being a master sommelier isn’t just tasting wine, though; it can take a decade of work.

“You have to pass several layers of the quartermaster sommelier exam to even get to be invited to take the master exam,” said master sommelier Gillian Ballance. “It’s a long process.”

Ballance is one of the many flying in from Napa to participate in this year’s festival and auction. She explained to WINK News what exactly she is doing when she swirls her glass during a tasting.

“You swirl the wine because you want air to come into contact with it, there’s about… well, they say over 200 different complex chemical aromas in each wine,” Ballance said.

She says that during the master exam, sommeliers have to identify between 20 and 30 of those chemical aromas.

The organization behind the Naples Winter Wine Festival is NCEF, or the Naples Children and Education Foundation. Join WINK News at 7 p.m. on Thursday for a special report, “A Taste of Help,” during which you’ll see how that foundation has raised money for two decades and how it’s helping children in our community.