I pinched the glass Stem, giving it a little twirl and watched as the crimson liquid gracefully whirled around the glass, gauging the clarity of the spirit before tilting the rim up ever so slightly and bringing it closer to my upper lip to take a whiff.
After colour and clarity came aroma. Tasting it came last. Having been a sommelier for more than a decade I could quite easily predict the taste of what was most certainly a Pinot Noir. I took a small swig, swirling it around with my tongue, experiencing as it released its silky sweet berry flavours, with a hint of bitterness and savoury spices and a mouthwatering acidity that could be sensed at the joint of my jaw.
The seductive experience ended all too soon as I gulped down the spirit after about 30 seconds, while it’s hauntingly succulent taste lingered my mouth. And the dinner continued..
A sommelier is someone who is specialised in all aspects of wine services including wine and food pairings with wine tasting being a pivotal part of their profession. A wine tasting dinner can often require one to taste upto 7 wines in a single meal and upto 150 wines a day. For most sommeliers this process repeats itself on a daily basis.
Although wine tasting is a coveted and seemingly uncomplicated career option with incomes as high as INR 5 lakhs, sommeliers face an uncommon occupational hazard that makes it difficult for them to continue the profession following a tenure of 8-10 years. As it turns out wine – The solution to everyone’s problem, poses a risk of its own, namely, tooth erosion.
How does wine affect your teeth?
Wines contain organic acids that give them a ph ranging between 3-4, with some wines going as low as 2.8. Tooth enamel, the hardest substance in the human body cannot withstand a Ph below 5.5. All wines can be considered as culprits with white wines eroding enamel faster due to a higher acidic content and red wines staining teeth due to the dark hues.
Once the protective enamel layering is dissolved away the sensitive dentine layer is exposed which promptly leads to agonising pain being a permanent addition to any tasting experience.
Dealing with Tooth erosion once the damage is done
The most common solution to the chronic suffering is what the dentists call an intentional root canal treatment. ie. Removal of the tooth nerve. Crown placement is another solution which offers complete insulation to the Hypersensitised teeth against any stimulants.
In all cases the consulting doctor will be able to asses the degree of damage before offering the most favorable treatment plan. The best solution is of course to avoid needing treatment altogether, because inevitably prevention is always better than cure.
Most soms will swear that wine is in-fact a time travel machine in a bottle. A decent wine is known for its ability to transport you to the time and terror of its origin.
Although wine is an acquired taste, it has its own perks with wine drinkers having the lowest mortality rates even compared to non drinkers. Ofcourse the statement drastically changes if you’re indulging in more than 2 glasses a day, but that’s another story.
Not that a wine enthusiast would ever need reasons, it’s important to note that the anti-oxidant packed aphrodisiac also promotes blood flow and improves heart health. Which bring us to:
How to stop tooth erosion without giving up on your favorite vino
- Saliva plays in important role in protecting your pearly whites. It helps dilute the acidic content of the beverage owing to its buffering action while at the same time allowing you to experience the full taste.
- One way is to stimulate the production of saliva
- Stay hydrated before and during the wine tasting by ensuring you’ve had enough water
- Sipping water in-between can wash away the acids while also acting as a palate cleanser
- Chewing sugar free gum can stimulate the production of Saliva prior to a session.
- Some doctors recommend not brushing your teeth a few hours prior to the wine tasting to make use of the natural barrier ie. Plaque, allowing it to shield enamel from the low PH.
Using a soft brush and following a gentle brushing technique can also help, But its important to not brush your teeth for at-least an hour after your enamel comes in contact with the wine. This accelerates the erosion as the bristles can scrub away the softened enamel.
- Products such as the tooth mousse effectively remineralise your teeth. Replacing your tooth paste with the GC tooth mousse can help effectively combat erosion.
- Additionally a glass of milk (No sugar) before bed allows casein to repair damaged enamel to some degree.
- Seek professional help. Your dentist can guide you when it comes to in office procedures such as fluoride applications and varnishes that can reduce the impact of inorganic acids in the long run.
- In office bleaching systems that simultaneously remineralise can address both sensitivity and tooth staining simultaneously.
- Wine wipes can be used to wipe the stains away from teeth which can often result in purple smile
- OTC (over the counter) products such as stain prevent balms like wine block can also be used to apply a protective layer on your teeth.
Gluttony is sin. And in the case of wines a rather painful one. There’s no reason to abstain from indulging as long as you watch out for the risks. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with wine its imperative you maintain an even closer relationship with your dentist so you too can age gracefully like fine wine. Cheers.