There is a special moment in wine drinking, which provokes almost a Buddhist feeling of harmony and simplicity in me, soothing my mind and allowing me to focus on the present. While tasting and enjoying the tiniest details: light chasing through the glass, various aromas opening up, the taste of the wine, the light ringing sound coming from the glass and just then it comes again... that wine moment.

Sometimes, I deliberately slow down the pace to appreci ate the gracefulness of the curve of the bottle, the beauty of the label, the way the wine moves with the turning of the glass. Usually, my mind is racing, jumping from one thought to another, worrying about too many things. With this ritual it calms down, focuses and gently embraces the moment. I live here and now... there is nothing else to discuss but wine. There is nowhere else to be, except right here and now. Several years ago, while studying wine tasting, the wine moment discreetly sneaked into my everyday life. I would go out after study sessions, and I would roam the streets of Sofia caught in the city sounds, sights and smells. These sensations would make me sharpen my senses and catch the moment. And then the challenge of urban transportation would arise... It was then that I realized there was a huge difference be- tween tasting wine by giving it our full attention, and drinking it while discussing the latest news on TV.
The timeless awareness of the wine moment proved to be my little antidote against the stress of everyday life. If you want to know how to get to it, here is how.

The trick is to wake up from our programmed habits and feelings and see them more clearly, unimpeded by our usual expectations and prejudices. In fact, such a strategy is used in some meditations. We will now use it for a more wholesome sensation when drinking wine. A piece of cake, right? For this we will need wine and a glass.

Before you start, take a look at the wine in the glass and consider whether you have any expectations about it. Now, get rid of them. Just wipe them out. Turn your attention to the wine and sharpen your senses. Note the colour, the way the liquid moves, the game of light and shadow.

Now, smell the wine in full awareness. Be aware of all your senses, the aromas that you detect and the associations they give rise to. To make it easier for you, divide them into groups. Can you detect fruits? What are they? White? Red? Flowers? Spices? What? Leather? Tobacco? Butter?

Then slowly lift the glass and sip. Make a note of all the changes that your palate is experiencing. The problem here is that we can distinguish only four tastes - sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Yes, in reality taste is our most limiting sensation, and when we drink so many sensations occur that we have to notice and describe and remember yet with the help of only these four tastes. We take a sip and we have to pay attention to the tastes that wine has: sweet, sour, bitter and sometimes salty; the texture of the liquid: whether it is as smooth as silk, or lightly grained, or rough as sandpaper; feelings of gravity and fluid density; length and intensity of sensations. This is a complicated process, that is why I divide it mentally in three stages and take three sips.

The first sip is for the taste. I make a note of the order in which the different tastes reveal themselves, which taste is the most intense, and how they combine with each other.
The second sip is to feel the texture. Do I feel it smooth and silky on my tongue? Or is it velvety? Or maybe like suede? Or even sackcloth? I also note whether the wine is juicy or drying the mouth, with a light or dense body.

The third sip is to feel the intensity and length of the taste. How long do the sensations linger? When and how do they appear and disappear? Be aware of the intensity of taste.
In the end it is time to reminisce the lack of wine in your mouth. Can you perceive any lingering tastes or aromas? What are they? Take a moment to consider whether you feel reluc- tant to take another sip to experience yet another explosion of flavours or you need to wait... And keep doing this until you see the bottom of the bottle.

When you're done, reflect on this manner of wine drinking and compare it to the routine way. Was the experience dif- ferent from what you expected? If you choose from time to time to drink wine by becoming fully aware and focused on the present moment, you will find that you will perceive the tastes and aromas of the divine drink much more clearly, and your body will feel sated. Often this leads to widening of your vinous horizons, and you will drink smaller quantities with greater delight.

Maria Chalieva