As we enter the Hebrew year of 5776 it is a perfect time to reflect on our accomplishments over the past twelve months and focus on how we might live fuller, better, and brighter lives.

I recently took a weekend out on Long Island with a chef friend of mine.  We share a great love for food and wine and the great sense of place they are capable of transmitting. We spent our days indulging in corn, carrots and peaches from a nearby farm and wines that finish so deliciously salty that they bring to mind a mouthful of Shinnecock Bay.

During a nearly nine-mile run—our respective industries demand this sort of balance—we got to talking about meditation. I had never really tried it. I seem to find my clarity while moving fast. Running was my meditation I told her.  She’s been doing it for years and explained to me how important it is to exercise our brains, to work the musculature of our most important organ. We keep our minds as nimble as our bodies and in doing so we become more aware and more alive.

For her, meditation is observation, a completely sensual survey of the world around us in a given moment. It is not a question of quieting the mind, but rather tracking its twists and turns until we find our way back to now. Sights, sounds, smells and sensations fill our every millisecond. To become aware of them is absolute existence.

When you think about it, the only way to move forward is to know exactly where you’re starting from.  During the High Holiday season, take a moment, alone or among friends to truly meditate.

Much beloved Italian wine journalist, Luigi Veronelli coined an expression some years ago to describe wines that he considered worthy of a deeper experience, as Vini da Meditazione.  While most wines flourish alongside food, and vice versa when paired accordingly, certain wines are so complex that they deserve our fullest attention. These wines are an invitation to pause and engage our most instinctive senses. They are as profound and layered as we are.

I’ve listed a few suggestions below, but regardless of what you choose to drink during the coming holiday feasts, take some extra time to really observe it. Smell it deeply and unabashedly. Let it roll around on your palate until you start to salivate and ask yourself if it is stones or salt or dust. Remember where it began: a seed nourished by the earth of one particular place. As you seek out that place in your glass, begin to form a habit of such deep observation of your own place for a richer and more examined existence in this coming year.

Channing Daughters Envelope (2011 if possible) – I’m leading with this local wine as it set the tone for my most meditative weekend on Long Island.  It’s made from Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, and Malvasia Bianca and classified as an orange wine which essentially means it’s made like a red wine, fermented on the skins for greater intensity of color, aroma and flavor.  Spend some time with this one and you’ll pick up dried apricots, honey and a raw nutty quality like kasha or wheat berry. And that’s just the beginning!

Quintodecimo Greco di Tufo ‘Exultet’ ( 2013 if possible) – the man behind this wine, Luigi Moio, has multiple degrees in the sciences, teaches at Naples University, and studies specifically the effect of temperature on volatile aromatic compounds.  Greco is typically a dry and mineral-rich white wine with some citrus and wild flower elements. He’s managed to draw out notes of thyme, acacia and all manner of tropical fruit.


Borgogno Barolo  (try for a 2004 or 2006) – Barolo is made from 100% Nebbiolo. This grape is prized for a reason and its evolution is fascinating. As it ages, even just a few years, it takes on a rusty color and remains quite transparent. What starts with lovely dark cherry and a spot of fennel matures in to deep dark licorice, dried figs, mushrooms and cola.

Caravaglio Malvasia delle Lipari Passito – Passito wines are made from dried grapes. In addition to the sweet raisin notes you might expect, they can have a surprising crispness and a whole panorama of flavors including balsamic notes like sage and rosemary, ripe peaches and apricots and intensely aromatic flowers like lilies and hyacinths.

*K – Tishbi Viognier Blanc  -This is a sumptuous blend of white grapes Viognier and Riesling. It’s got a nose full of tropical fruit, honeysuckle and honey with a relatively dry clean finish.

Need a good meal to go with your vino? Try one of these mouthwatering Rosh Hashanah recipes!

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