Late summer. The last days of August.
Fall is on the horizon as we (…..ok, as I) hold on with all my might to the last bits of summertime. It’s kind of magic, this time of year.
The sunsets are just barely earlier, the wakeups are dewier and breezes are coming in with just the tiniest touch of crispness. The next season is right around the corner.
It’s one of my very favorite times of the year. The farmers’ market dominates, and it’s totally socially acceptable to eat tomatoes for every. single. meal. And call “mezze night” dinner. And order a glass of rose without anyone looking at me twice (I do this all year long, but for one season it’s socially appropriate).
I cannot get enough of it.
It’s also this heart-upending, soul-quenching time for reflection, to me. Seasonal transitions always are, but August is also my birthday month, so it’s always been a little extra in that department, and a special time to take some time.
It’s the time I check in on the last year: what am I delighting in? What things am I the most proud of? What am I the most grateful for? And then– where do I want to go this year? What do I want to focus on? What do I want to let go of? And how can I feel my best as I enter a new season?
To me, it’s this perfect time to see how I’m actually doing. How I feel, from the inside out, you know?
It’s also a time for CELEBRATION. I mean, we’re all out here doing our best to show up fully in our work, with our families and through all of our other personal goals right?
It’s a good thing to pause for a hot second and celebrate that: progress. Growth. Moving forward. And to recognize just how far we’ve come, before we move forward.
And also about celebrating the seasons: Ours. And the earth’s. There’s a natural pairing of the two, and one that in the past few years especially, I’ve loved letting guide so much of my life.
It makes me wanna just pour a little splash of rose and take a little sunset stroll and soak it all in for a bit.
I’m doing it this weekend, for sure if anyone wants to join me ☺️.
It feels like the older I get, the more I appreciate little things like this: rituals I have for myself that help remind me to stop and take it all in. They’re always made up of little tiny things that bring me joy: a glass of great wine, time to journal, the perfect morning bevvie, a long walk, a girls’ night, a date night, you name it.
They’re intentional moments. Meant for savoring (even if they’re sweet). And life-giving, if you let them be.
So it’s important to pick things you love and that make you feel good: quality over quantity, whether that’s the people you’re with, or the drink in your hand.
So while we’re on the subject: let’s talk for a second about that wine. Don’t worry— I do believe it can totally be a part of a healthy lifestyle, if done mindfully.
As in not as a numbing agent, a stress reliever, a distraction from feeling your true feelings or something you do on auto-pilot. (We talk about all of this kind of stuff in the Simply Real Life program— that it’s not just the food/drink but your relationship to it that matters also. It’s a huge part but often not talked about piece). So just something to think about.
But I also mean mindfully as in the quality of it— wine in its most pure unadulterated state.
Like have you ever thought about what’s in your wine?
Or why sometimes after drinking it, you get weird headaches, a hangover, skin breakouts, sneezes or an itchy nose?
I don’t mean to throw a wrench in our little hypothetical party, here. But it’s seriously been on my mind lately (you know, with birthday season and all).
I’ve always prided myself on choosing “good” wines over the super cheapies—call it snobby or what you will (like my besties do), but I’ve got no shame in that game. It’s worth it to me.
I grew up with my dad collecting and teaching me about it: how to appreciate it, and the art and craft of it.
And how to have a good relationship to it: when it’s used as a way to toast and celebrate, and sip with joy (as opposed to something you use when you’re sad).
Right, dad? (I know he’s reading this.) I think I picked up on the lesson, which was probably exactly his point: in college I didn’t understand why anyone would ever drink the stuff from a box. I only liked the good stuff.
That, and he always said– where there is good wine, there is good food.
True, true. The best kind of pair.
Good food and good wine also played a huge role in how I met Kyle: friends kept saying we had to meet, because we were the only ones they knew who cared about and liked “fancy” stuff (which, back then meant $15 or $20 bottles of wine instead of $10).
It turns out they were right: about my wine standards AND dating ones. We had our first dates all over Seattle’s best restaurants, closing down each one of them as the floors were being swept beneath us, not ever able to stop talking once we started.
We even got married in a vineyard.
So to me, wine has always been a magical part of celebrating life. It connects us to the beauty of food, and intertwines people in the present moment: splitting a bottle, clinking glasses and sharing stories, tears, dreams and laughter.
But then this thing started to happen. And I wasn’t very happy about it.
Over time, my body has gotten more and more sensitive to wine as the years go on. Even though I love (and I mean love) a beautiful glass of red (Pinot), savored in the wintertime, my body and head do not.
Big. Time. Bummer.
I’d try just having less…until it was just a few sips and still, the next day I’d feel it.
So, needless to say, I’ve stuck with dry whites and roses the last few years (fewer added sulfites, which are usually the culprits- or so I thought). But it was weird, when I traveled to other countries, I never get the symptoms.
But at home– even those whites and roses would get me sometimes. I would have one normal sized glass and still wake up with an achy head and fatigued body. And the weirdest symptom of all? With red wines, feeling sad the next day, ever so slightly.
Which has left me in a little pickle. What’s a girl to do when she wants a crisp glass of sancerre for girls’ night, or a special date night or dinner with friends around the table in her happy place, but it goes against everything her body is telling her?
Well, she does more research and finds a solution.
So after lots of research and testing and trying so many things, this is what I discovered: that not all wines were created equally. That just like food, there can be a big difference in how the crops were raised, farmed and processed. There is no regulation. At all.
And per usual, that other countries like Italy, France and Spain seem to have much higher standards when it comes to what is allowed vs. not allowed in their production. A few things: added sulfites. Emulsifiers. Dyes. Added sugars. And chemicals from processing and how the grapes are grown.
It was all starting to make sense.
I searched and searched and searched for options that avoided these things, and came across a newer category of options: natural wines. Wines made using clean, natural farming practices but also production processes: with less histamines, sugars & fewer of any added sulfites.
Yes, they do exist.
It’s as simple as this– less additives, chemicals, preservatives and sugar in wine = a cleaner, more natural end product.
And a way less likelihood of bad feelings, headaches or hangovers the next day.
Wine, but how it used to be made, before it was a massive industry.
You guys! It’s truly been a game changer in my life. I’m not a glass-a-day kind of gal– I just can’t be with a baby and business and sensitive wine head.
But when I want to enjoy a glass with dinner, or to relax with my hubby, finding natural, organic & biodynamic wines has been my total go to.
Some of my favorite new discoveries:
1. Dry Farm Wines: this is a natural & biodynamic wine monthly subscription service (that you can start, stop or pause at any time). I’ve been testing them out the last few weeks (the summer rose subscription which was 3 bottles a month for 3 months), and let me tell you: I AM OBSESSED WITH THEM. They source wine from the top of the list of sustainable, family-owned vineyards all over the world. They legitimately lab test each and every wine.
Like, they check for ev-ery-thing. Sugar free. Low sulfites. No additives. Hand harvested. Biodynamically farmed (a fancy way of saying the soil and plants are preserved and the farms are self sustaining rather than being deteriorated by traditional farming practices).
I reached out to them and they are so great— for anyone interested in trying them out, get a few bottles free with your order when you use this link!
2. Primal Wine: I haven’t tried this company yet, but it’s an LA based one and looks like they have a great selection.
3. Rock Juice Inc: I haven’t tried this company yet but I love that it’s a female founded one, and that there are options for 3 bottles a month.
Worth thinking about, if you ask me. Especially as we make this jump from summer to fall, from white/rose season into cozy season and red wine time. There are some great options out there that let you ENJOY all the things you love, but without all the downsides to your health and happiness the next day.
You are always worth it.
(And if you’re in Seattle, another great source for natural wines is Left Bank, the oldest, smallest natural wine shop and bar in South Park.
Vif Wine| Coffee in Fremont also has a great selection, as well as Portalis Wine Shop in Ballard. Swing on by for some cleaner sips! If you’re in another city, it’s worth doing a quick google & yelp search to see if there’s a local shop near you!
If anyone else has great suggestions of other places to find and learn about natural wines, leave a comment below.
Love this post? You’d love the cookbook then too. The second book is coming out this November 2019, so make sure you’ve pre-ordered it here. And be sure to check out the seasonal meal plans (or the new easiest DINNER ONLY plan)!
Wanna know more about this real-food lifestyle made simple I always talk about? Be sure to check out this little podcast workshop I created for you, called: Simply Real FOOD: Real food, finally explained. Check it out here!