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You can smell the difference between a white Burgundy from France and one from California, said William Costello, a master sommelier.
Costello poured a French version of the golden elixir into a glass and swirled it. He held it up to a reporter's nose. "It's clean. It's bright. It's precise," Costello said from behind a wine station under a Naples Winter Wine Festival tent.
He poured a California vintner's white Burgundy and repeated the motions he made before. Swirl. Nose. "It's got sort of a more baked apple, baked notes, to it," Costello said.
Most people may not be able to tell the difference. But Costello has trained and refined his palette so he can introduce others to the joy of wine tasting.
The former busboy was working two jobs and going to college when a waiter offered him a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
"It changed my life," Costello said.
Later, he moved onto a fine dining restaurant in San Diego, where he gained a mentor who helped him find his way.
It's his first trip to the Naples Winter Wine Festival, and Costello said it has been a memorable experience.
"I've never been to a wine festival as put together as this," Costello said.
— Maryann Batlle