Mindfulness & wine tasting. Experiencing wine beyond the five senses.

If you’re into wine as much as we are around here, chances are you have, consciously or unconsciously, developed a consistent way of approaching wine when it’s poured into your glass. Perhaps you document your experience by taking notes or photos. If you do record your impressions, you might carry around a small notebook or use your smartphone to capture these. Before putting the glass to your nose, you’ve probably taken a quick look at the color of the wine because, if you’re blind tasting, you’re looking for clues that might indicate its age or grape variety. You might swirl the glass before smelling the wine. Or maybe you smell first, then swirl. You might close your eyes as you take in the wine’s aromas. Or not.

But this post isn’t about the mechanics of wine tasting. It’s about the “why” behind it all. And about how mindfulness techniques can help us become better tasters. It’s about tapping a little deeper into our innate curiosity as we taste wine.

Why do we go to the effort of recording our experiences? I can imagine a lot of unique answers to that question. And I’m sure each of us has more than one reason we take the time to write tasting notes. One of our goals may be to build our associative memory. In other words, we want to remember this experience so we can bring it to mind in the future. Bringing mindfulness practices into our wine tasting experiences can help us do exactly that.

Mindfulness is simply practicing moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions and sensations. What am I thinking/feeling/sensing in this moment? But most of us don’t consciously do this, much less when we taste wine. Instead, we do our best to focus our attention on, well, the wine! Focusing on anything is easier said than done in a time when multitasking is considered a virtue and creating Instagram-worthy images of our experiences ranks high on our list of priorities.

What if I suggested that focusing less on the wine and more on yourself will help bring more depth and clarity to your tasting experience? WHAT?! It sounds a little counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, by bringing more attention to yourself, you may be better able to pick up on nuances in the wine’s aromas and flavors that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. What thoughts come to mind as you smell and taste? You could ask yourself, what am I thinking about in this moment? Does this wine conjure up any images or memories? How does this aroma or taste make me feel? Then notice how you feel physically. Are you relaxed? Tense? Slowly bring your attention to the wine as it travels from your tongue, through your mouth then down your throat. Try asking yourself these types of questions the next time you taste wine and discover how doing so will force you to slow down and minimize distractions while heightening your senses and creating a more vivid memory of your experience.

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