Wine is the ultimate sensory experience.
One glass can simultaneously express history, agriculture, food, science, geography, climate, soil, language, culture, smell, taste, and sex. Too often it is overlooked as a means to jolly folly and drinkery. Yes, it is a fermented alcoholic beverage (I myself have had many a starry-eyed night from one too many). We are in a work hard/play hard culture and a reward culture, as well. A glass of vino after a long day may be relaxing, but in simply drinking we lose the often unspoken benefits that wine provides to replenish the mind and soul. We now have a bottomless glass of research that supports the importance of mediation and mindfulness as a means to equilibrate the damage done to our bodies from this high-stress lifestyle. With a bit of curiosity and appreciation for what is in the glass, the experience transforms from another stimulus to a means of mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness only requires you to draw your attention to the moment. For most, being truly present is easier said that done. Many of us multitask and are easily pulled in many directions by life’s background noise. If you like to enjoy a glass of wine to unwind, you can begin to incorporate mindfulness simply by taking the time to truly stop and recognize the miracle of fermented grape juice. Anyone can taste (more to come on that). Look at the color, swirl and smell. If you smell something- it’s probably there! The more you taste, the easier it becomes to pick out aromas. What does the wine feel like on your palate? How does it make you feel? How does it change the moment, the meal, the company? How does it change after 10 minutes-or an hour?This is a simple practice that requires no special training. Learn to stop for a brief moment and turn your senses into that exact snapshot in time.
If you find yourself searching for more, meditate with the wine. Learn about it. Ask yourself one question: Why does this wine taste the way it does? As sommeliers, we study culture, history, agriculture, biology, cuisine, history, and geography to solve this mystery. While taking on the whole picture may be a large task for the average wine lover, even a small amount of curiosity can completely pull you into the moment. To meditate with wine, allow this curiosity to swallow your attention. Ask where the wine is from, how it changes the flavor profile, why that grape tastes the way it does (especially when tasting the same grape in different regions!). After enjoying the glass, look up one thing about the region or the producer.
Wine appreciation is inherently a means to mindfulness. Take that extra few moments to kick back and listen to your wine and you will find increased focus, mental flexibility and stress relief- and anyway, you will sound so much more badass at dinner parties. 😉 -AT