why wine tasting is important for meditation

a lesson learned by accident in South Australia’s famous wine region, the Barossa Valley

a delightful depiction of the way they celebrate plonk in the Barossa—this ... monument? ... is literally just plonked on the side of a great bike path between Tanunda and Nuriootpa

a delightful depiction of the way they celebrate plonk in the Barossa—this … monument? … is literally just plonked on the side of a great bike path between Tanunda and Nuriootpa

So i’m in the Barossa Valley by accident—i like to refer to these kinds of situations as ‘accidents’ not because they are actual accidents, but because they are a consequence of my ignorance. To people who asked, i said i was in Greece/Turkey by accident, because it was not something i planned—i mean i planned to go to Turkey (i did not fly there by accident), but i had planned to stay three weeks, not nine months. That was an accident in the same way the unplanned pregnancy of a loving couple is referred to as a ‘happy accident’. Accidentally being in the Barossa though, that just means i didn’t know Nuriootpa was part of the Barossa.

Of course, when in Rome … so i ran some errands in the morning and hit a few wineries this afternoon. I had a full day here because i made it from Adelaide in one day instead of two.

*everyone claps and throws me water and soggy cold chips*

On the recommendation of a guy working at Barista Sista on the main street, i first went to Dorrien to try the Buccaneer, a rum-and-raisin port aged in old rum barrels from Queensland. Because i’m a pirate.

The old place was built by the Seppelts family in the 1910s and the silos are still inside, now decorated with seven murals depicting a history of the region—Lutheran farmers escaping religious persecution in their European countries and deciding to flee here, where nothing harvestable is supposed to grow. On the theme of generations, the woman at the cellar door knows two of my aunties and used to live across the road from the general store my nan and pop used to run—one day in the South Australian countryside and i’ve met someone who knows my family.

For some reason today i’ve been feeling an unnecessary need to rush, so i hurried through an exhibit of decent landscape photography and moved on to the next recommendation, Artisans of Barossa, the combined cellar door of seven boutique wineries that are small enough to not warrant each having their own cellar door.

Standing there talking to the cellar-door guy and finding it hard to concentrate on the conversation at the same time as the delicate bouquet, i realised that the reason i couldn’t multi-task is i was trying to have a conversation with the wine as well as the guy—

i was trying to respond to what the wine had to say by responding with thoughts about the characteristics of its bouquet.

Essentially i was trying to label the scents and the flavours with ideas like ‘pepper’ and ‘plum’, ‘peach’ and ‘potato’—wanky stuff, ya know, but not because i am an actual wine wanker, more because that’s what my experience has conditioned me to believe should be done when tasting wine.

Instead, when i dropped trying to label the various intricacies of each wine (the way we’re trying to label the various intricacies of our physical existence by smashing the atom into smaller and smaller smithereens), i found that i was more able to just enjoy the general character of the wine—it’s character as a whole, i mean.

The same goes for meditation—we’re told often by teachers that we have just witness the thoughts and let them pass through, not labelling them, not judging them. It works—it makes life a lot more enjoyable to not sweat the small stuff all the time.

When we stop trying to label every thought, feeling, emotion and thing, we can start to just enjoy the general character of things.

But what i like most about this approach to wine-tasting our way through life is that even a wine that’s not very good can still be enjoyed, in the same way that maybe anger is not very pleasant, but still we can enjoy it if we just notice that sure, it has a pretty dodgy aftertaste, but soon that passes and you can move on to the next bouquet or emotional flurry or whatever you want to call it.

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