As a wine lover, Hemingway once wrote of wine exactly how I see it:
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
To me, these words perfectly encapsulate not only the essence of wine tasting and but also eating in general- the act of being mindful.
Being a dietitian, I have met many people who feel the need to severely restrict their intake or take other drastic measures for the sake of a certain body shape. That’s not to say that I haven’t been in this position before. In my late teens and early twenties, I would ration, restrict and forbid, and often consume supplements and meal replacements rather than actual food. My thoughts were often of food and eating, but never about enjoying the sensory experience.
My relationship with food has definitely evolved over the years alongside my understanding of where food comes from and appreciating the energy that producers, cooks and chefs invest into growing fresh produce or creating delicious meals. My attempts more recently have been to involve myself in the process of making my food, particularly with ingredients in their most basic form. While it is easy to pick up convenience or processed foods, I control my consumption more after I have spent hours kneading, resting, baking, roasting, soaking, rolling, chopping and grinding things by hand.
Mindfulness is starting to become more apparent when I eat and drink. I adore a long lunch or extended dinner, I prefer sharing meals, and dislike feeling rushed when it comes to food. I must confess that I silently (and occasionally not-so silently) judge those that eat too quickly (although if you know me well, you’d know that I am like this with popcorn and gelato), don’t chew enough, or who treat eating food like they’re on a crime-spree: needing to escape a restaurant the minute they have finished their last bite.
I am however, completely enchanted by those that savour food and wine with delight and delicacy. I think that is one of the reasons I love visiting food and wine producers. There is some much passion, they teach you to taste and appreciate, and they embrace the subtleties and complexities of flavour.
I recently travelled to McLaren Vale in South Australia with a girlfriend, Mel to delight in a sensory experience in one of my favourite wine regions. Only 45 minutes south of Adelaide, McLaren Vale is a fantastic place for experiencing local produce and open space. Staying at McBride’s House, a place that I would highly recommend, we were able to have a more up-close and personal experience in the area with some bicycles that were provided.
The Shiraz Trail (you can find out more about it here) is a 7km shared walking and cycling that is part of the Coast to Vines Trail. This trail provided the backbone of our self-guided produce and winery cycle tour.
Armed with our regional map on the Saturday morning, we headed for Wilunga Markets to ‘meet the grower and taste the region” (click here for more info on Wilunga Markets). With the trail being quite flat and picturesque (it passes between vineyards and farms), the ride to the markets was easy and enjoyable. The markets were a hive of activity with beautiful fresh and baked produce to be enjoyed. We were soon thankful that we rode bikes because it restricted us from buying and hoarding food for later.
One of my favourites was the local chai- deliciously creamy. You can find my creamy chai recipe here.
After spending some time at the markets we went on to discover some the local wineries of the area. As you can imagine, you can get carried away with wine tasting. There is often a vast range at each location and being on bikes, we needed to contain ourselves and avoid over-consuming. The rules for this region were simple: try only red (our preference), try only wines available at the cellar door (if it is readily available in Sydney, it’s not a priority) and most importantly taste, savour, experience (quality always trumps quantity). You can find more about the wineries that we visited by clicking on the links below:
- Alpha Box & Dice: Such a great selection of boutique wines, try the Siren Nero D’Avola!
- Battle of Bosworth Wines: For your organically grown, single vineyard wine
- Fox Creek Wines: For an old faithful delicious drop try the Short Row Shiraz
- Mollydooker Wines: For the quirky Carnival of Love, the No. 2 wine of Wine Spectators Top 100 in 2014
- Paxton Vineyards: For the dynamic and biodynamic, especially the Jones Block Shiraz
- Penny’s Hill: For those with a penchant for a full body and a full belly- the restaurant is great.
So, my final thoughts on mindfulness and healthy consumption: food and drink should be a source of pleasure and not guilt. Satisfy your hunger with intention and attention. Be mindful and moderate. Look at food, eating, emotions and sensations with consciousness and acknowledgement… but always with a glass half full.
(A special thanks to Max at Penny’s Hill who piled our bikes on the back of his ute to get us to Alpha Box & Dice.)