This past friday I spent my afternoon at the Leoness Winery in Temecula, California knocking out an item on my Limitless List. Truth be told the last time I had an alcoholic beverage was probably when I was 20…. yeah, I know. LAME! I retired from the drinking game at a young age but I’ve heard some wonderful things about the sweet nectar of wine, and being a bit of a glutton for learning I threw it down on my list as something I really wanted to experience.
Part of creating a Limitless List is to get you to try new experiences in order learn more about yourself, other people, and the world around you. Through my list and past experiences I’ve noticed I always come away from them able to relate each experience in some way to my own life, health, and well-being.
I have to say that I’ve done some pretty cool things now. A trip around the world, sky-diving, bungee jumping, and learning how to dance. But for some reason my favorite experience thus far has been this wine tasting. Maybe it has to do with me knowing nothing about wine and the unbelievable learning experience it turned out to be. Or maybe I’m just still buzzed from the samples and feeling a bit cheeky while writing this.
Whatever it is, sit back, relax, and hell… pour yourself a glass of wine. I’m about to drop some saucy knowledge on ya.
Glass 1: Wine has to re-adapt to a new environment
Wine is very sensitive to climate and the environment it’s in. Subtle changes like a dry hot summer can cause wine grapes to over-ripen, dry out, raise acidity levels, and create a greater vulnerability to disease and pests. This can significantly change the structure or type of wine that is being produced.
This is extremely similar to our bodies. Subtle changes in exercise, lifestyle, and nutritional habits can create a different environment for our mind and body and dramatically affect the way we feel, perform, and think. Simple changes like removing gluten from the diet or emphasizing proper rest and recovery can substantially affect your body composition, energy levels, and how you might deal with various stressors in your life.
But it goes beyond our personal health. Experiencing a new environment, maybe something you’re a little uncomfortable with can change the way you feel. Get you heart racing bit, butterflies in the gut, and you might feel a little resistance to this new environment. Wether it be going to the gym for the first time and being over-whelmed by the weights, standing on a ledge getting ready to bungee jump, or paddling out in the ocean for you first wave.
These might all be new environments for you that cause you to over-ripen, dry out, or raise your acidity levels. But unlike a grape you have a choice in the matter. You get to choose how you will respond to the new environment.
How will you respond?
Glass 2: There’s no right or wrong way to drink a glass of wine but for the best experience prep it
My first sample was poured and the first questions out of this rookies mouth was this.
“So Tony, how do we do this?”
Tony was my wine Jesus for the day. Explaining every little intricacy and answering every silly little question I had from how to drink wine to what cheese goes best with what.
Tony let me know that there is no real way to drink wine. No set of rules to follow. No wine police that will come take me away and lock me up for holding the glass wrong. Now they might take me away for having one to many but not for holding the glass wrong.
With that said, I was told that even though there might not be a right or wrong way to drink a glass of wine there is a way if you want to get the most out of the glass. Now I apologize to Tony. This is not what he called them but I like to refer to the process with the following names.
step 1: The wine shimmy After your glass is poured you have two options. You can place the stem of the glass in-between your pointer and middle finger and then those two fingers on top of the base. You’ll gently want to stir the wine in a circular motion to allow oxygen to aerate it so that you get a more potent aroma. You can also swirl the wine by simply holding the stem and moving it in a circular motion while it is not on the table but I happened to lack the grace and coordination to do this without looking like a fool.
step 2: Get your Pinocchio on We might only be able to decipher four distance tastes – Salt, sweet, sour, and bitter but our geeks can detect over 2,000 different scents. You’ll want to put your nose right in that glass and gently inhale through the nose. Remove yourself from the glass and go in for sniff number 2. Pull back again and then go in for your third and final smell. You’ll probably notice the first two inhales act almost as a warm-up. It’s the third one that really gives you a sense of what the wine is all about.
It’s sort of how life works. It’s tough to jump into a new situation and be comfortable right away. It takes a warming-up period. The key is to just commit to get started. Expect not to know everything right away or even to be able to handle it all. This especially goes with exercise and nutrition. But just get started and commit to learning and exploring about yourself and what works best for you.
Step 3: Taste that bad boy You might want to dive right in and knock back a glass. Especially after you’ve taken in those aromas. But resist the urge and only take a sip. Coat your palate as a prep. Now go ahead and take a bigger sip. Let it sit in your mouth a bit. Move it from the front of your tongue to the back (wait a minute, keep it PG, J!)
Experience all the flavors. Try and discover what it is that you’re drinking. Is it a honey, lemon, and apricot Roussane you’re drinking or is what you’re tasting more of a red cherry, black cherry, tobacco, and vanilla? Each wine will have some distinct flavors. Take the time to enjoy them. Slow down and savor the experience. Do the same with your food. Instead of putting it back like a snake with its prey, chew every bite. Savor the flavor and enjoy the smells, tastes, and texture of each bite.
Just like our health there is no wrong or right way to go about it. You can hold a dumbbell many ways, run, bike, swim, hike, jump rope, or use a host of other activities to get your cardio on. You can take Yoga, do Crossfit, body build, take a palates class, or train all bodyweight. You don’t even need to call it exercise to stay fit. Play sports, go dancing, just get moving!
Same goes for nutrition. You can get results low carb, you can get results high carb, you can be a vegetarian, paleo, or flip-flop from one to the other and still get results.
There might not be a right or wrong way to do it but there is a way that is fun, works quickly, and is able to be maintained for a lifetime all wrapped up in one. That way is unique to you. Start by educating yourself about proper diet and exercise. Tweak what you learn to fit your lifestyle and make sure to keep track of your progress so that you become aware of what works and what doesn’t. It’s pretty clear I’m biased and I do believe that a Paleo template is the best place to start. I am entirely supportive of a comment Chris Kresser made when asked about whether or not the diet of our ancestors is best.
“Within these guidelines, however, there’s a lot of room for individual differences. When people ask me whether dairy products are healthy, I always say “it depends”. I give the same answer when I’m asked about nightshades, caffeine, alcohol and carbohydrate intake.
The only way to figure out what an optimal diet is for you is to experiment and observe. The best way to do that is to remove the “grey area” foods you suspect you might have trouble with, like dairy, nightshades, eggs, wheat and grains, etc. for a period of time (usually 30 days is sufficient), and add them back in one at a time and observe your reactions.”
Glass 3: Presentation is part of the experience
You can hide a cheap bottle of wine with a fancy presentation but that’s until you actually taste it. You can also hide a great wine with a sloppy presentation, but again, that is until you taste it.
We often a lured to food based on its presentation. A plate of spaghetti with garlic bread can be a beautiful thing. But behind that presentation are often toxic consequences that wreak havoc on our insides and gut health while at the same time effecting our body composition and performance.
Exercise might not always look glamorous. Sweaty pits 🙂 swamp ass, hell… you might even throw up. But done properly and providing adequate rest you turn that sloppy presentation in to one hell of a treat. The treat being your health and new-found body.
Lastly, six-pack abs or a bang’n backside might be a nice presentation but your health internally is much more important. Take notice of how certain exercise and foods make you feel. Do you need an extra rest day? Is dairy tying your stomach into nots. Get that blood sugar, adrenal health, cortisol, cholesterol, and a host of factors in check first. Then focus on the presentation and “the sexy.”
Glass 4: I never drink & I hate wine. Surprise!
I mentioned earlier but I don’t drink and the few sips of wine I have had were terrible.
Surprise! This was one of my favorite experiences I’ve had in my life. Turns out not all wine tastes like shit. Who knew.
Long story short. I hate to get all clichés on you but don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in this case don’t judge an experience, activity, exercise, or food for that matter based on a pervious experience.
I hear it all the time. I don’t like exercise. It’s just not fun. I can’t eat like that, it’s just to hard and I don’t like those foods. I’ve gone dancing before and I just don’t like it.
Make sure you give every experience it’s fair shake. Sure you don’t like to exercise and think it’s not fun. But have you only been walking on a treadmill or running circles in your neighborhood? Grab some friends and take a class. Learn how to weight train or go on a hike.
Yeah this Paleo thing is too hard. I bet it is when you only eat chicken and broccoli five times a day. Experiment with real food!
Try different things!
A book is just a book until you open it up. Then it’s a unique story.
Glass 5: The grapes are sometimes imported but the vines they grow on are native
I learned that often the wine grapes can be imported different wine regions, different states, and even different countries. But the vines that they grow on are native to california. That’s because the nutrients they get to flourish come from the vines. If they are not native to the States they are more susceptible to disease and pests.
Hmmmmm….. sounds a lot like out health. I bet you knew I was going there didn’t you 🙂
Get your health right be starting with a template that emphasizes foods natural to our bodies. Protein from meat, vegetables, low sugar fruit like berries, tubers like sweet potato and taro, and nuts in seeds in moderate amounts. Try buying local grass-fed, organic, and free range products
that provide your body with the most nutrient dense foods.
Glass 6: Certain wines pair well with certain foods
There was a plate in front of me that carried a few pieces of cheese, raspberries, blueberries, black licorice, and a truffle. After each sample was poured I would ask what food goes well with each sample.
And yes, I am well aware that some of those foods are not Paleo. But sometimes it’s nice to relax a little.
Turns out different wines go well different types of food. A dark red with smokey flavors might pair well with the truffle or black licorice. A sweet dessert wine might pair well with a spicy cheese like pepper jack or something similar like the raspberry.
You might be like that too. Certain type of exercise, foods, and lifestyle habits might pair well with you. Same goes for certain relationships in your life. You might not mesh well with certain folks.
Just keep experimenting and find out what does.
Glass 7: Some miscellaneous stuff
And no… I did not actually drink seven glasses of wine here. Whadda-ya take me for?
Each sample was roughly an ounce, so I probably had the equivalent of about one and half to two glasses tops.
Lets call this the quick hits.
The barrels the wine is stored in can cost an excess of 1,000 dollars…. for one! But you’d be surprised at how important they are. A lot of a wines flavor comes from the barrel. Different woods, preparation, and heating of the barrel can release unique flavors. So if you think your meals are getting a bit boring try some different and unique spices or ways to prepare your food.
So that’s about that. Turns out wine tasting was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had and one of the more educating.
How have you been surprised by certain experience?