Meditation Wine-Tasting?? A New Experience with Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs

Searching for calmness in these times, when I heard about “meditation tasting” from the folks at Champagne Henriot, I immediately decided to try it. Then it occurred to me I might already be pretty relaxed if I was sipping champagne. But what if meditation-tasting (aka “meditasting”) could make things better?

Meditasting starts basically the same way I’m used to reviewing wine: Pour a glass of the wine — Champagne Henriot, in this instance — and look at it. Notice its color and temperature, the shape of the bubbles and the persistence of the mousse. Then go further in meditasting: notice the way moisture condenses on the glass and the feel of it in my hand, the shape of the glass itself, the stem, the base.

And what about the taster — me: how am I feeling right now, emotionally and physically? More than ready to take a sip? OK, just take a sip…

Now I feel a little calmer. I swirl the glass lightly and hold it to my ear: witness the popping fizz, which seems to accentuate the crispness of the taste.

I can put the glass down for a second. Take a slow breath: in, out. Then bring the glass just to my nose and inhale: a light yeastiness, a hint of toast.

How is the second sip different from the first one? Along with hints of lemon and minerality, time also adds honeysuckle notes as the wine warms on the palate, and then the flavors progress into puckery acidity in the finish.

This is Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs, made in the Champagne region of France, only with chardonnay grapes. I consider the people who made this champagne, and how many generations have been producing champagne in this province. The Henriot family has been making champagne in Reims for over 200 years, since 1808. People have been growing grapes in these chalky soils for centuries. They have been searching the sky over the vineyards, hoping for sun or rain, day after day, year after year. Individuals have been harvesting grapes by hand, carrying them to the winery and pressing the grapes. And waiting: years pass between the origin and the final production of this champagne.

During this particular online meditasting, there is spa-like music playing, courtesy of LA’s Center for Mindful Living. The music is soothing and stimulating at the same time. The host has asked us to consider every aspect of this wine experience, and I think this is a very good idea. I wish I could do it with every wine I taste. Of course I won’t, but the end result of learning about meditasting is that I can give myself permission to take more time with the wines in my future, whenever I need it.