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Home Sips & Toasts

Sips & Toasts

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Golden Grape LeavesWhat is a SIP?  Sips are inspirational short written passages describing benefits of wine in your lifestyle when consumed in moderation and balance. Sips are on a variety of topics, including:

  • celebrating life
  • promoting healthy living
  • enhancing food
  • sustainability
  • living in the moment
  • spiritual lessons from the vineyard
  • spiritual lessons from winemaking
  • and other wine related topics

Toasts – Each sip includes material for toasts, identified by italics, and questions inviting further reflection, conversation and questions of your own.

Many of the WineSpirit sips are written by Executive Director, David White, but others are donated by members.  David has also written on book called, Sippin’ on Top of the World, which is available on Amazon.

A new Sip is posted on the front page of the website each month, and then rotated here. Following is an example of some prior Sips.


What Contributes to Your Having a Good Day? - Sip #18:

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mt st HelenaWine growers know that producing wine involves complex relationships and interdependencies. For the wine to reach the marketplace, many things must go reasonably well: working the land, decisions about which grapes to grow, caring for the vines, the winemaking process, and the storage and aging facilities.

Each link is critical, including how the wine is stored and displayed once it gets to market. From planting to opening the bottle, every step involves coordination and cooperation.

Adding to the complexity are the myriad varietals and vintages of wines that winemakers produce and customers buy. Wine’s variety and distinction mirrors such differences in people and the individual facets that have shaped our development over the years, contributing to who we are today.

TOAST – As we sip this glass of wine, think about all of the steps that went into making it, and all of the many people involved from harvesting the grapes, to fermenting the wine, to blending and bottling this precious liquid to share with us. Let’s toast to how we all contribute to making the world a better place.


  1. What factors are involved in the successes of your day?
  2. How do you notice all that goes well without doing so only after something has gone wrong?

What is Your Prescription For Health? - Sip #75

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rows of vinesOne of wine’s characteristics is its potential for intoxication. One of life’s characteristics is its propensity for stress. Times for clinking glasses and sharing good wishes are moments apart: from pressures, deadlines and constant struggles to keep up.  A glass of wine at the end of a day is a way to savor the best of today and be “up” for tomorrow.

There are many drugs and pharmaceuticals used to address life’s ailments and pains.   Wine is a “prescription” for calm, in precarious times, and it includes the same caution found on every drug and pharmaceutical label: “take a limited number of tablets/teaspoons/tablespoons, and no more”.

Wine’s health benefits are predicated on consumption in moderation: physical health, with red wine good for the heart and white wine good for the lungs; and spiritual health, manifesting in the relaxing character of a glass of wine, subtly enhancing the taste of the food and the enjoyment of those sharing the experience.  As a “drug” for life, wine invites you to bring the best into and out of yourself, in special times, with special people. The instructions on the label add: “find more of life’s moments to celebrate, as an antidote to overload, anxiety and stress”.

TOAST- In difficult times, it is good to have friends and colleagues with whom to share support and care.  Through good times and bad, each toast induces you to reflect on your relationships, strengthen them and savor them.  Pausing to do so is good medicine for keeping “up” with everything life sends your way.


  1. How is wine good medicine in your life?
  2. What remedies help you respond to life pressures and enable you to see and feel what is good and blessed about your lot?
  3. What strategies do you utilize to make time to stop and breathe and regain your balance?

How Wine Can Turn a Social Moment into Something Very Special - Sip #53

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rolling vinyards

In my younger years I led groups of preteens and teens in cultural programs that were social in the informality of the setting, outside of a formal classroom. I noticed that these kids had just as much fun in their groups as did those in primarily social and recreational programs. It seemed as though the quality of social interchange was higher in the cultural-based programs because kids learned about each other in deeper ways than was the case in pure recreational contexts.

The purpose of WineSpirit is to turn a social moment into a quality moment of exchange and interchange that goes deeper than the cocktail agenda. That is why whenever we gather for any program or activity, we include some question that links life’s enjoyable moments with increased awareness of ongoing shared blessings and specialness happening more often than we realize, subject only to our noticing them.

We take seriously the spirit and intention behind and within the words we exchange in clinking glasses. We all know “words are cheap”, or more accurately, can be cheapened and rendered “just words”. Say what you will, the act of enjoying wine is among the best opportunities to change direction in terms of how people treat each other and listen to one another. Wine’s origins in religious sanctification and its persistence as the beverage of choice for toasting opens us up to pondering the value and merit of our time together.

It begins with “noticing” our “stopping”, the moments of the pouring and the toast. Then we make a choice: is it a rote clink or a thoughtful heartfelt connect? Is it an automatic action and reaction, or a mindful tuning in to the person(s) and the moment? Left to our own patterns we may do it without thinking. Sharing a WineSpirit consciousness to seek a connection between wine and “specialness”/“spirituality”, we will do more than a rote clink; we will catch a moment with someone and turn it into a very special experience.

We can play this “game” every time we open a bottle of wine: along with pouring, along with raising the glass, and along with opening mouths to utter a wish, we can load lots of thought and lots of feeling into the utterance. It is an opening to a deeper level of interchange. All we need do is remember to do so. What happens is something special.


The Raison/Raisin for Being?

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vinyard dead tree

I have now brought back over 50 tons of grapes to our winery this season.  I drive most of them myself over from the vineyards and I have time to listen to NPR’s local stations and reflect.  Over the course of this harvest I have been reminded once more of the extraordinary miracle of fermentation…the absolute and total transformation of sticky sweet squashed watery orbs to heady new wine.

As I drive over the mountain pass that separates Eastern from Western Washington I have come to wonder if the grapes I’m hauling have any clue what lies ahead for them.  If I were to tell them they will be tortured with a stemming and crushing and they will be made into wine, would any of them willingly come with me?  “Wine” is not a part of what they know and it may not even be a part of their vocabulary (if they have one).  The grape’s reason for being is to be a raisin!  “Wine… what’s that?” my grapes might say to me as I transport them far from their vineyard homes.

Yesterday, was the twelfth anniversary of my mother’s death from early-onset Alzheimer’s.  “Resurrection” of the body as some Creeds ask to believe, is something she would hardly want.  She was a walking pathology textbook for most of her life. 

I think, perhaps, a new wine awaits us that is beyond our mortal abilities to even conceive.  We are grapes without a conception of what wine is.  As I get older with each vintage I am going to try and not become an old raisin and remember that my raison for being lies somewhere in a new wine to come that I cannot begin to fathom.


By Don Corson, WineSpirit Member in Washington State

Founder of Camaraderie Winery


How Does Sustainability Extend from Vine to Glass? - Sip #17

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One of the earliest adherents of “sustainability”—recycling as much of the harvest of nature as possible—was the wine industry of New Zealand, inspired by the pristine beauty of its unique and relatively isolated island nation. Since 1994, New Zealand wineries have moved in the direction of ecological balance in the interplay of working the soil and growing their wine grapes. Most New Zealand wine land is subject to sustainability regulations. The industry also encourages its members to keep such balance in the running of their businesses and in their financials.

You could also apply sustainability in personal and interpersonal ways: not only commitment to recycling, but also to time taken to regain your balance. It manifests in stopping for a moment, or a day, or a week: to relax, unwind, and be yourself, the self you would like to be, among those who share your journey. In stopping to relax and reflect, you allow yourself to consider all that you do: How much of it is important? Do you make time for what and whom you value? Such questions could help you examine and appreciate your life balance, or what you would need to do, to address wellbeing: physically, spiritually and emotionally. 

A glass of wine, raised in a toast, provides an opportunity to regain your balance and connect good people, good times, and life’s manifold blessings. Raising your glass invites you to notice and appreciate more: where you are, with whom, and all that is special and precious.

With a lot happening in your life, it can be difficult to practice personal and interpersonal sustainability. Under too much pressure, you can lose your balance. Toasting helps you savor a moment, and, in so doing, regain a measure of balance.

Sustainability is not just for wineries and vineyards; it’s for everyone.



  1. What connection do you make between sustainability of the land and in your life?
  2. How might people who practice sustainability gain in productivity and success?
  3. What impact could commitment to sustainability have on your work?


How does Tending the Vineyard Extend to One Another? - Sip #16

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Focused Vine Mustard

Wine and people are a lot alike in benefiting from tender loving care. Making wine involves attention to grapes’ and wine’s delicacy at every step of the way: planting, growing, harvesting, crushing, storing, bottling, and cellaring. If you are not careful with every facet, you risk diminishing its quality, since wine is a product of both the genetics of the grape and the environment in which it is grown, made, and protected.

People also benefit from tender loving care. Parents and teachers help children develop value and self worth in the ways they give them encouragement to do and be their best. Adults accomplish more when they work in an environment of mutual respect and cooperation, with sensitivity for each other’s particular quirks and characteristics.

How wonderful it is when the loving care that goes into making wine culminates in toasts celebrating life’s wonderful relationships. This delicate fruit of a carefully tended vine comes alive through words and sips, as people treat each other with the kind of care and attention that produced the wine.

Sincere toasts and good wishes contribute to the quality of life: moments to savor in seeking blessings and well-being for those near and dear ... here and now.




  1. What analogy could you make between the caring process of turning grapes into wine and its application in your life?

What parallels could you draw between how people treat plants and other forms of life and their fellow humans?


What Scales Do You Use to Evaluate Wine—and People? - Sip #2

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Over 30 years ago, Robert Parker created a quality ranking system that made wine increasingly accessible to more people. His numbering system, now broadly applied, gives some consumers the confidence to make their choices. Parkers 100-point scale opened up the world of wine to those who, without that guidance, shied away from wine altogether.

Yet the scale reflects Parkers palate, not everyoneor anyoneelses. The apparent precision of the measurements, and the impact of Parkers judgments on consumers' choices, tempt winemakers to aim toward such standards, but his ratings can contradict the elusive, individual quality of wine. What is most important in a wine is whether you enjoy it.

Educators and executives seek effective and accurate ways to measure people and their abilities, achievements, and character. The 100-point grading system, used in many schools, is but one of many flawed assessment alternatives attempting to distinguish one person or group from another. What makes it challenging is that people are unique. Precise measurement is not easyif it is possible at all.

Wines, like humanity, are multi-nuanced and difficult to define. Each wine, like each person, is unique, subject to change over a span of time. With so many to choose from, it is no wonder that we turn to measurements and standards to help make the selection process more tenable.

The human desire for a rating scaleand the reality that such scales are flawed accentuate the human-like characteristics inherent in wine, reflecting life in all its complexity. Beyond generalities and numbers is the reality that what you have in your glass is unique: a combination of a particular moment, a friend with whom you share it, and the taste of the wine in that context.

Wine is not math. One persons grade of 83 may be another persons grade of 92, whether evaluating the same person or the same wine. That is what makes life, and enjoying it with a glass of wine, so special. You are right about what you are drinking, and Robert Parker is right, too. Yet, your scores may be very different.


  1. How much do you rely on expert input in selecting books, movies, wine, and other things?
  2. How do you allow for human factors, variations, and flaws in choices you make?
  3. What ways do you find most useful or rewarding to help you discover wines you love, and how does it compare to ways you evaluate people?



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