Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Sending my palate to Boot Camp

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I guess you really just don't know airborne illnesses until you live with a young child. While I'm not 100% yet, I can say with utmost certainty that the flu/bacterial chest infection I've been battling for the past week has been the worst illness of my adult life. Yes, worse than when I took a road trip to Minneapolis with some fellow grad students and had a raging stomach flu ALL THE WAY DOWN (and I was the only one with a driver's license). But that's a different story altogether...This flu/chest thing came to a head on Thursday morning, when my 39.7 C fever broke, which resulted in my passing out and my wife calling the paramedics. As a relatively healthy 32 year-old, waking up after a whole minute - drenched in sweat not knowing what just happened - is a pretty terrifying event.Like I said, I'm on the mend, but have been prescribed these antibiotics that can apparently affect your sense of taste. I decided to put it to the test - I just opened a bottle of Canadian Chardonnay* and gave it a whiff. There's some mineral and tropical fruit components on the nose, but the former aspect is very strong, which may be due to the pills (they have this aftertaste of rancid Flintstone vitamins).And the taste? The wine, my friends, tastes bad... very bad. Like rancid Flintstone vitamins and an underripe peach thrown in for good measure.Of note, as well, is that this is the first drink of any alcohol I've had in a week (save for half a Heineken on Saturday, which tasted like old, semi-flat, rancid apple cider).So, folks, my palate is officially in basic training/boot camp in preparation for the Winnipeg Wine Festival. I must, after all, get my taste buds in shape in time for the Big Show... *The Chard shall remain nameless, as I'd rather not give it a bad rep with out merit.

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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