Q: Is it true that tasting wine can keep your mind sharp?
—Patricia, New York
A: According to Dr. Gordon Shepherd, author of Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine, the active consumption and appreciation of a fine wine may stimulate your brain even more than literature or math. He theorizes that the way the brain processes the information that our senses collect when we taste a wine—not just the flavor, but the aroma, texture, color and even what we're hearing—engages as much of the brain as anything else in human behavior.
He categorizes critical wine tasting, in which participants aren't just gulping down wine but are actively analyzing what's in their glass, as a more complex neural function than many other intellectual tasks. Will 60 minutes of wine tasting make your mind sharper at the end of the hour? Certainly not! Alcohol is an intoxicant, and impairs both physical and mental functions. But carefully considering a wine's qualities and writing a tasting note for it demand both critical thinking and creativity, and those are great ways to flex your brain. Cheers to reading, writing, arithmetic and red wine!