With the Christmas tree tucked away and holiday goodies finally out of the fridge, it’s time to live up to those lofty resolutions you made just weeks ago! Between exercising, controlling your finances, and spending more time with loved ones, you may be gearing up for a productive year.  But instead of rushing to achieve, here’s an idea- slow down. Breathe, admire the scenery, and pop open some wine.

Before you decry this as alcoholic nonsense, research consistently shows that slowing down increases your productivity.  Furthermore, a daily glass or two of wine helps your body relax, not to mention increasing longevity. So if you are looking to accomplish more, there’s nothing like a longer life to do that!

While it can be intimidating at first, you don’t need to be a sommelier to experience the benefits of wine. All you need is an open mind and a bit of time.

First things first: See, Smell, Swirl, Sip.

See- Examine your glass.  Take note of the color, white wine isn’t really white. What’s in your glass can vary from a lemony yellow to a shiny golden yellow. Or some can be as translucent as water. And reds? Oh, my – the colors can be as opaque as a purple or black hue or as light as a brownish orange. The color of a wine can give you clues as to the age, grape varietal and place of origin.

SmellThis is the most important part of assessing a wine.  After one big sniff, what immediately comes to mind? Do you get a rush of fruit notes or a whiff of potpurri and perfumes.  There is no right or wrong answer. We are influenced by what is around us- both in life, and in savoring wine!

SwirlThis essentially loosens up a wine, and helps to releases the wine’s aromas. An effective swirl might seem intimidating but with practice it will come as second nature. Go through the same motion as if you were drawing a bunch of circles on paper. It’s all in the wrist! Practice with a half full glass but keep some paper towels handy!

Sip- Ah, finally time to taste- the part you’ve been waiting for! Let the first sip sit on your tongue. Let it roll around and think about its effect. After sipping, take time to savor the glass.  Remember, the point is to slow down and soak the flavor in sips, not gulps.

Wine is called “nectar of the Gods” but we mere mortals can enjoy it, too!  It comes in all shapes and sizes and unlike any other consumable beverage, wine changes all the time.  Be adventurous and resolve to slow down, sip more, and try different grape varieties.

Here’s an easy way to get started: go to your favorite wine store and ask the associate for a recommendation that is similar to what you already know and love. For example, I love Rieslings- especially in the summer time. Now that we’re all bundled up for winter, I would suggest adding some weight and texture to a white wine and trying Oregon’s Montinore Estates Borealis, a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Müller-Thurgau. Don’t worry if some of those words seem a bit unfamiliar…we’ve only just begun our wine journey!

Toast to the joy and excitement of a new year and a new wine. You never know what’s ahead, so just slow down, smell, swirl, sip, and watch what happens…


Jai Jai Ramsey Greenfield is the owner Harlem Vintage, the iconic neightborhood’s first boutique wine shop, and Nectar Wine Bar.  She is proud to offer one of the largest selections of Black and ethnic-owned wines in the country. Greenfield also shares her passion for wine in an introductory tasting course at the City University of New York.  For more wine tips, visit the official Harlem Vintage site and Jai Jai’s personal blog.