Photo by [slack12/Flickr](

Photo by slack12/Flickr

The primary goal of wine tasting isn’t to get drunk. Technically, it’s to pick out all the marvelous flavors, aromas, notes and nuances in various kinds of vinos and say pretentious things like, “boy, 2011 was a great harvest” and “do I detect a hint of peat moss here?”

But whether you’re getting your Paul Giamatti on in wine nirvanas like New York’s Finger Lakes and California’s Napa Valley (the Finger Lakes of the West) IMO that doesn’t mean you can’t get totally tanked in the process of sipping and swishing.

Regardless of your preference, here’s the best news: Wine tasting actually makes you smarter, suggests a Yale neuroscientist who was probably blasted on Bordeaux while conducting his research. In his book Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine, Gordon Shepherd says that when you sample different wines, the act stimulates your brain more than any human behavior, including activities like listening to music and solving math problems. Take that, MATH.

According to Shepherd, from your first sight of the bottle to your first sip of the wine, your brain fires off a myriad of mental processes including “pattern recognition, memory, value judgment, emotion and pleasure,” per NPR. It’s a pretty bold claim, wine being better than math, but one that I blindly and wholeheartedly agree with because it jibes with my lifestyle.

So the next time I’m going HAM in every winery along Seneca Lake and my tasting companions tell me I might have a “problem,” now I can just tell them, “Sure, I have a problem … if you consider becoming a friggin’ genius a problem.”