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Medi-Tasting: Pairing Mindfulness with Wine

Medi-Tasting is the new concept that pairs mindfulness with wine. How does it work? And how else can we bring mindfulness to wine-tasting? Read on to find out.

The view from wine tasting at Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass, IL.
Alto Vineyards.

One of my greatest joys of being home in Southern Illinois is our local vineyards. Growing up, I never thought twice about the rolling hills that surrounded me or fruits they could bear. Beyond king corn and queen soybean, our fertile soils give rise to sweet grapes that are under-discovered and certainly under-appreciated by the global wine industry. Had I cared about this as a child, I may have never wanted to leave.

At the ripe age of 11 months, I can hardly blame Snowpea for being uninterested in the wine during her first trip to the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail last weekend. Thankfully, twigs, pebbles, and helicopter leaves on the wood floor of the gazebo at Alto Vineyards were there to keep her entertained.

Eira stayed entertained by the trees at Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass, IL.
Eira stayed entertained by the trees at Alto Vineyards.

As Eira pawed her treasures from the trees and placed them one by one into my palm, I sketched out a vision of my own winery in my mind.

Hills of vines, sunsets through rose-colored nectar, an outdoor café, bicycle tours, and a wide-open practice space for yoga retreats…

“Weren’t you going to tell me about the wine and wellness event?” my dad asked from across the table.

“Oh yes,” I gazed back at him through my half-full flight glass.

Before our afternoon outing to the winery, I attended a virtual gathering featuring founders of A Balanced Glass (ABG), a forum that connects wine professionals with wellness resources. It was during this event that I learned about the concept of ‘Medi-Tasting’.

What is Medi-Tasting?

My introduction to wine happened to come around the same time I started practicing yoga. I used to think this was a coincidence. But the deeper I become immersed in both worlds, the more parallels I see between them.

Wine tasting is meant to be a sensory experience that invites us to be fully engaged with the present. For the moment that we are immersed in the poetry of the glass before us, the rest of the world quiets. Simply stated, wine tasting is an act of mindfulness if we do it right.

And evidently, I’m not the first person to think so. Medi-Tasting is the new concept trademarked by the company Champagne Henriot that marries wine with mindfulness. Developed in collaboration with Dr. Elisha Goldstein, co-founder of the Center for Mindful Living, Medi-Tasting encourages tasters to slow down, center themselves, and observe their body and breath to optimize the senses before intentionally sipping wine.

Strategies to stay well while wine-drinking

Starting Snowpea young on wine tasting - JUST KIDDING! No wine was consumed by baby in the making of this photo.
Starting Eira young on wine tasting - JUST KIDDING! No wine was consumed by baby in the making of this photo.

To me, it’s clear that wine can be a tool for developing mindfulness. The problem is, it’s just so easy to over-indulge. The ABG founders pointed this out during their event and offered a few strategies for setting up for wellness while wine-drinking:

Explore low- to no-alcohol options

There’s a whole world of low- to no-alcohol wine options that I have yet to explore personally, but that could be just as deliciously nuanced as traditional wine if made with care. Perhaps tasting non-alcoholic wine this would even be a way to get Snowpea involved (in moderation, of course – sugar is still sugar even in non-alcoholic wine!).

Measure out your wine

According to the CDC, women* should drink less than 1 glass and men should drink less than 2 glasses of any alcoholic beverage per day. This level of drinking is considered to be “moderate alcohol consumption” and has been associated with protective health benefits in past research (although additional research is needed). But better than measuring out wine in glasses is to measure by volume: 1 glass, according to the CDC, is 5 ounces of wine that is 12% alcohol by volume. Knowing what 5 ounces looks like by sight can be helpful in properly portioning wine.

Drink water with wine

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to produce more urine and could lead to dehydration with overconsumption. Drinking water can help to space out the time between each sip of wine. This is why sipping water for each sip of wine can be key.

Eat while wine-drinking

From personal experience, I know that drinking a glass of wine on an empty stomach can make me a little loopy. Alcohol is absorbed to the bloodstream much slower when there is food in the stomach. For this reason, drinking wine with a meal is a good habit to practice.

Wine drinking loves company

It’s no wonder that Zoom happy hours have become so popular during the pandemic. Wine drinking simply isn’t as fun without company. Reserving wine for social occasions can help to maintain the sanctity of the drink.

Taste, don’t drink

The difference between drinking and tasting wine is in the intention. Setting an intention to enjoy the sensory experience of wine rather than feel the impact of alcohol on the brain is what separates sipping from guzzling.

Practice mindfulness away from wine-drinking

To experience the full benefits of Medi-Tasting and mindfulness, meditating on wine shouldn’t be your only form of meditation. Engaging in mindfulness practices away from the wine glass can help to cultivate a state of centeredness that may even make our senses sharper for wine tasting. Yoga, breathwork, and meditation are one way to start.

* Note: I would think limits for wine consumption should be based on weight, genetics, and a variety of other factors, but this gender binary is what the ‘Fast Facts’ on the CDC has been reduced to.

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