New year…new format! We’re kicking off 2018 with an excitingly different taste and feel, as we take a look at wine and wellness. Hitting the mat, and pouring a glass: we talk with the founder of New York’s Yoga Unwined about the intersection of vinyasa and vino. A renowned Master of Wine talks about taking his last drink, and continuing a career in the industry. And, if a little detox is among your New Year’s resolutions, we’ll show you how to do it stylishly and deliciously—with mocktails.
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Read the full transcript of “Wine and Wellness”:
Susan Kostrzewa: From Wine Enthusiast Magazine, this is the Wine Enthusiast Podcast. I’m executive editor, Susan Kostrzewa. New year, new format. We’re kicking off 2018 with an excitingly different taste and feel as we take a look at wine and wellness.
Morgan Perry: If there’s a Venn diagram of the people that practice yoga and that drink wine, I think that the overlap would be pretty substantial.
Susan Kostrzewa: Hitting the mat and pouring a glass. We talked with the founder of New York’s Yoga Unwined about the intersection of vinyasa and vino. Plus …
Tim Hanni: There are so many people that say “Well, he can’t be a master of wine. He doesn’t even drink.” My only response to that is “Get over it.”
Susan Kostrzewa: A renowned master of wine talks about taking his last drink and continuing a career in the industry. And, if a little detox is among your New Year’s resolutions, we’ll show you how to do it stylishly and deliciously with mocktails.
Dylan Garret: Mocktails, or as I like to call them, cocktails that don’t make me a better dancer.
Susan Kostrzewa: It’s all coming up on the Wine Enthusiast Podcast.
2018 is here and for us, the new year brings more than just a new calendar. It brings a whole new approach to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast. Thanks to your feedback, each and every episode will bring you more stories, more conversations, and more of the best and brightest personalities from the worlds of wine, beer, and spirits. Plus, restaurants, travel, and entertaining. Whether you’re a wine novice, connoisseur, or somewhere in between, the new Wine Enthusiast Podcast is your go to podcast for all things beverage and beyond.
As we mentioned at the top of the show, today we’re shining a spotlight on wellness. And of the 40-something percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, most of them focus on health. You know, eating better foods, getting more exercise, maybe drinking a little less. If you’re among those looking to detox after December’s revelries, you’re in luck, because more and more top-notch bartenders are taking their savvy with spirits and applying it to non-alcoholic libations. We sent associate digital editor, Dylan Garret, to the bar at Peaches Shrimp & Crab, a contemporary American seafood eatery in Brooklyn. He spoke with bartender, Chris Rue, about what makes for a killer mocktail.
Dylan Garret: What do you think the building blocks are of a drink? How do you properly balance a drink, whether or not it has alcohol in it?
Chris Rue: When building a non-alcoholic mocktail like drink, I try to think about the same way that you’re building a cocktail. You have your spirit, you have your citrus, and you have your sugar, right? So I try to think about it like that. What am I going to replace this liquor with? Some people, when I give it to them, they’re like “Are you sure there’s no alcohol in there?” I’m like “Yeah, I’m sure there’s no alcohol in there.” It’s very citrus, juicy, like some cocktails.
DG: Yeah. Most great spirits too, great cocktails, you kind of want to mix them in a way that nothing should taste boozy at the end of the day, anyway.
DG: One of the reasons someone’s paying for you to mix them is a drink is if they wanted to go and drink Georgi from a flask, they could just do that and not be paying the price for a cocktail. You’re paying to have something that doesn’t just taste like alcohol and a mixer.
CR: Right. Whenever I mix my cocktails, I mix it where the balance to the spirit and the citrus and the sugar doesn’t give you the overwhelming taste of harsh liquor on your tongue. When I do the virgin cocktails, it works out perfect. You don’t get that bite at all.
DG: For those who aren’t dedicated cocktail drinkers, most cocktails fall into two categories. Spirits forward or sours. Sour is basically anything with citrus in it, so your mojitos, your daiquiri, your margaritas. Whereas anything spirit forward is gonna be like a martini, an old fashion. So when I’m making mocktails, it’s really easy to just swap out alcohol for soda water or for some other ingredient when you’re making a sour because you’re basically making a fruit punch, just go heavier on the sour, a little lighter on the sweet. What do you do if someone’s a martini drinker or an old fashioned drinker? How do you give them something that’s a little more in that savory kind of thing?
CR: So this is very, very hard, because the leading ingredient is the spirit. So what I’ve done, and what I do, is I take very aromatic stuff and herbs and all that stuff, cloves, cinnamon, all that stuff, so I’ll boil it all the way down. I’ll just heat that up. The syrup’s really good for being a very citrusy kind of thing, but if you just use the ingredients inside of it and you don’t add any citrus to it, you get this very aromatic tea-like kind of beverage. Aromatic things can remind you of some booze. So what I do to make it more like one of those old fashioned cocktails is I add some thickness to it, right? I add a little bit of maple syrup or like a really, really bitter medicinal tea. So it’s still thin on the taste, but you’re getting a lot of flavor in the aromatics and stuff.
DG: I like the idea of using tea as a thing, I actually had never thought of that. It’s like a bittering agent can go for a fruity kind of drink.
CR: Tea’s a really good way to go. A lot of that stuff is a really good replacement. A lot of people don’t use it. There’s tree barks. It’s similar stuff that you use, but you have to spend time boiling all the stuff down, letting it reduce, and letting the water take on the flavors of the ingredients that you’re using. It may not have the body, the taste profile you’re getting as close to that as you would if it was a regular cocktail or martini. We don’t do less, we do more. We really want it to feel like what we’re giving you is just as good as the one with alcohol.
DG: Okay, so now we’re gonna do Chris making cocktails, or mocktails.
CR: So the first one I’m gonna make you guys is the Ms. Jackson. It’s the mocktail version of Ms. Jackson. So we buy a really, really good high quality blackberry puree, right off the bat. I make a fresh lemonade, all fresh ingredients.
DG: So you really want to stress that fresh juices are the way to go. It should be for cocktails and for mocktails, but that’s what really …
CR: That’s the best way to go because all concentrated stuff, it’s too sugary. So we use fresh ingredients to really get the taste, really good quality stuff, and it’s better for you. We’re gonna do about three ounces of house made lemonade and then we’re gonna do a little bit of extra lemon juice on top of it, 3/4, then 3/4 of simple syrup, and we’re gonna shake it really, really hard. Shake it, shake it, shake it. You want to pour that in a glass over some fresh ice. Then you want to top that with blackberry puree and there you are ladies and gentlemen, the Miss Jackson mocktail.
DG: That’s delicious, Chris.
CR: Thanks, guys.
DG: So Chris, thank you so much for having us here today.
CR: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you guys.
DG: Man, these drinks are great.
CR: Thank you, man.
DG: All right.
Susan Kostrzewa: You can find Chris’s recipe for the Miss Jackson on our website, winemag.com/podcast. And have you had a mocktail that knocked your socks off? If so, we want to hear about it. Send us an email. Our address is firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com.
What comes to mind when you think about yoga? Lots of deep breathing maybe? Meditation? Poses like upward and downward facing dog? Well, if you attend a certain yoga class in New York City, you’ll hear about, and do, all of those things.
Morgan Perry: Inhale, back to center. And as you exhale, take that over to the left.
SK: But you’ll also hear this.
MP: We’re gonna come into cactus arms, but this time we’re gonna take wine glass arms, so our palms are gonna be facing each other, maybe even want to make champagne flute arms, since we’re doing a sparkling wine class.
SK: That’s right. Wine glass arms and champagne flute arms in a sparling wine yoga class. It’s just one of many classes in Yoga Unwined. And yes, that’s unwined as in U N W I N E D. Yoga Unwined is the brainchild of Morgan Perry, who brings together yoga poses and wine facts and ends each class with what she calls a meditative wine tasting.
Digital managing editor, Marina Vataj, spoke with Morgan about how she believes vinyasa and vino go hand in hand.
MP: I started practicing yoga about seven years ago. I really just wanted to incorporate some kind of workout or movement into my day. I would take these lunchtime classes at a yoga studio in the building where my office was and I really got into it. I figured it would help me build some strength, maybe help my posture from sitting at a desk all day. That’s really what it did, but it also did something else. It helped me to chill out. It helped calm me down when I was having a stressful day and it was really exactly what I needed.
Marina Vataj: So you had one of those high energy, high stress jobs.
MP: Yes, exactly. I worked for a creative communications agency and it was a great, great job, but definitely comes along with a little bit of stress.
MV: How did you get into wine?
MP: At the agency, I worked on the wine and spirits accounts for about 10 years actually. But I didn’t really fall in love with wine until I went to Chile. When I was in the vineyards and in the wineries, I got to see the wine making process and I was just amazed and the winemaker’s passion was so contagious. It actually transformed the way I did my job too because then I was able to come back and tell these stories to the people I was talking to, to journalists, about the vineyard and the winemakers and everything I had learned. I started taking wine classes because I really wanted to learn more. So I started doing that in my free time.
MV: So you really spent some time to learn a lot about wine.
MP: Yes, exactly. And I’m still continuing my education today.
MV: It never ends, right? Isn’t that the way it goes?
MP: It can’t end. There’s too much information and new things are being discovered, as you know, and there’s too many wines to taste and not enough time.
MV: So you immersed yourself in this wine education and at the same time are finding this escape in yoga. Did you ever think the two would come together?
MP: No. Definitely not.
MV: And how did that happen?
MP: I went to yoga teacher training and this was an immersion course that I did in the Dominican Republic. During that time, we had a final exam, if you will. The final exam was teaching our fellow aspiring yoga teachers a class that we created ourselves. I decided to try to incorporate wine. I did’t really know how I was going to do it, but I ended up talking about wine during the class and I had no idea that people would be so receptive to it. Several people starting asking, “Are you gonna do this when you go back to New York?” The thought really had not crossed my mind, but that’s really sparked the idea to create Yoga Unwined.
MV: How exactly do you fit the approach of wine into your yoga class?
MP: I share facts about wine with my students while they’re holding certain poses for a few breaths. So for example, I’ll say “Get into Warrior Two.” I make sure that you’re in Warrior Two properly, and then I say “Okay, we’re gonna be here for three breaths.” Then I give you a fact about wine. Then I break that up with a few flows, vinyasa style flows, there’s not too much talking. We move one breath per movement during that time. Then after the yoga class, the students lay on their mat for shavasana, or corpse pose, where you really just lay there and that allows your body and your mind to absorb everything that’s happened in the class.
So after that, I lead the group through a tasting of two wines. So it’s a comparative tasting. It’s two wines that we’ve just talked about during class. It’s really cool because we’re pulling in information they just learned, so they’re able to take what they learned on the mat and apply it directly into their glass.
MV: The people who are taking your glass, how much or how little do they know about wine before they sign up for the class?
MP: It varies. I would say, generally speaking, most people have very little knowledge of wine or they come into class and say “Oh, I love rose,” but that’s really it. Or “I love Sauvignon Blanc, it’s my favorite white wine,” but they don’t know much about it and people come up to me after class and are constantly telling me how much they’ve learned. One of my favorite stories happened at our holiday party where I had a couple students come up to me after class and tell me “Oh my gosh, I learned so much.” One girl said “You know, I just got back from South Africa and I visited a bunch of wineries and I actually learned more in your class than I did.”
MV: That is such a compliment. Wow.
MP: It made me feel really, really good.
MV: There is this really important element of yoga and some yogis follow this philosophy that alcohol is on the list of things to be avoided if you’re a true yogi.
MP: Yoga and yogis have both evolved a lot in the last several hundred years and I think a lot of those texts were written in the 15th century or something. Also, yoga used to be something that was practiced by a pretty small group of people. Recently, it’s been democratized in the US and I think the last number I saw was something like over 36 million Americans are practicing yoga. From my experience, it seems like there’s a lot more yogis in the US today that drink alcohol than those that might abstain from alcohol. I always say if there’s a Venn diagram of the people that practice yoga and that drink wine, I think that the overlap would be pretty substantial. In my mind, I don’t see it as an issue, but I think everyone has their own opinion. I created Yoga Unwined really as a way to make both yoga and wine approachable to everyone. So if I can get people moving on their mat because they’re curious about wine and we end with a tasting and that’s why they’re there, then I’m introducing them to yoga and I’m happy about that too.
Susan Kostrzewa: Time for a break. But when we get back, a renowned master of wine talks about giving up booze and staying in the business.
Welcome back to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast. I’m Susan Kostrzewa. Today, we’re talking about wine and wellness. The next person we’ll hear from knows a heck of a lot about both. Tim Hanni is one of the first two Americans to earn the prestigious title Master of Wine. But here’s the thing: It’s been 25 years since he had his last drink. But abstaining from alcohol didn’t slow down Tim’s burgeoning career. These days, the professionally trained chef is known throughout the world as a flavor maven. He’s lectured in more than two dozen countries about balancing the flavors of food and wine. You’ll find his balancing techniques in thousands of restaurants and hotel outlets around the globe. I recently spoke to Tim about his life and career. I began by asking him how he first entered the worlds of wine and food.
Tim Hanni: Well, growing up in beautiful Miami, Florida, my dad was a member of Chaine des Rotisseurs, so his interest in wine and gastronomy led to my interest in wine and gastronomy. So at the tender age of 14, I started reading wine books and learning all about wine. I found a really great niche, Joe Butler and I were the first two Americans in history to become Masters of Wine. I’ve been in the wine industry, I hate to say it, but over 50 years now. There interesting thing is I’m sitting in Phoenix where 25 years ago, I took my last formal drink, my last drink really. I decided to do this test, as so many people do, I’ll dry out for a month or I’ll try this out. I had a glass of Meridian Chardonnay at the Marriott Mountain Shadows with a group of people I was working with at Beringer at the time.
So I actually took my last drink on December 16th. Then the following February, I decided to enter a formal rehabilitation program, a 28 day program. My knowing that I was an alcoholic goes back a long, long time before I actually stopped drinking. One of the very fascinating aspects of that is when I got to that point in time, can I continue in the wine business? The counselor that I had said “Would you be willing to leave the business?” And I said “Yeah, I would, honestly. I know this is a problem. I know I need to address it.” And he said “There’s a possibility you can stay in the business. The only reason I’m saying that is because you didn’t hesitate and it seemed very authentic when you said you’re willing to leave the business. You might have to, but it’s when people resist or are unwilling to take whatever steps necessary to address their problem that it continues to be a problem.”
So I was kind of at a juncture already and now I was looking at “Okay, if I’m not gonna drink, now what?” So in that point in time, I decided what if I spent the rest of my career in my passion. I love this industry. I love wine. I love the history, I love the traditions. But I knew so much of what we say and do today is supposedly based on the history and tradition of wines and it’s really not. We’ve warped things, we’ve misinterpreted things, we’ve lost sight of what wine actually used to be in the European culture where they never really matched wine and food. So I thought “Huh, why don’t I now focus on consumers and instead of me positioning myself to be the end all of wine evaluation, why don’t I see if I can understand consumers and consumer behavior and see if I can actually do something constructive for the industry?”
It’s kind of curious also. There’s so many people that say, “Well, he can’t be a Master of Wine, he doesn’t even drink.” My only response to that is “Get over it.” If you’re gonna be a pharmacist, you don’t have to try all the drugs.
SK: That’s it for today’s Wine Enthusiast Podcast. We heard from associate digital editor, Dylan Garret, digital managing editor, Marina Vitaj, managing editor, Lauren Buzzeo, and me, executive editor, Susan Kostrzewa. The Wine Enthusiast Podcast is produced by Sheir and Shim LLC, and executive producer, Marina Vtaj. We release a brand new episode every other week and we don’t want you to miss any. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And please write a review. We’d love to hear what you think of the show.
Stay in touch with us by following Wine Enthusiast Magazine on Facebook and Twitter and by visiting our website winemag.com/podcast. I’m Susan Kostrzewa, see you next time.