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Water is the Essence of Life – and Wine – at All Levels

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GrapevineWhen was the last time you stepped back from your hectic life and observed the wonder and beauty of our planet? When was the last time you untethered yourself from your electronic device and absorbed nature in all its glory and power?

For myself, it was while on vacation this summer on a river cruise along the Douro River in northern Portugal. This glorious river courses through the famous Port vineyards and wineries, a natural wonderland of beauty and bounty.

This is where I was able to focus on the awe of nature that I take for granted every day. I began to consider the more practical elements of nature rather than the ethereal aspects.

What precipitated this as I sat on the deck of our ship, glass of wine in hand? It was the wonder of a river that begins as a small stream in western Spain and ends 200 miles downstream as the gateway to the vast Atlantic Ocean, providing natural beauty and hydroelectric power to the entire region. It is the power and influence of Mother Nature’s natural wonder of water.

Water is the essence of life, yet it is in increasingly short supply as human population explodes and agricultural production accelerates to meet its needs in the face of growing global droughts. As I considered the macro and micro aspects of water’s dominance in our lives, my mind naturally (for me) came full circle to the glass of wine in my hand.

In the oceans, on land, in soil, in plants and in our bodies, water is at the very core of existence. We are taught that 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water. But do you remember that 96.5 percent of the Earth’s total volume of water is undrinkable? Only 3.5 percent is fresh water, which must sustain the millions of fresh water-dependent species that inhabit our planet, including its 7.3 billion humans.

How is it possible that humans are able to sustain themselves on such a seemingly meager proportion of fresh water? And this fresh water is not readily available to us. Nearly 70 percent is in the form of polar ice caps and glaciers. The remainder, sourced primarily from rivers, lakes, aquifers and runoff, represents less than 1 percent of all the water on Earth that is readily available for human consumption.

Throw climate change and the years-long drought in parts of the world into the mix and it is easy to understand the concern over the long-term implications for future water supplies. In the Douro region, even with the bounty of the nearby river, the lack of rainfall since last November is evident in the wilting, stressed grapevines all along the steep terraces cascading down to the river.

Let’s move from the global view to the perspective of water and the human body, of which 60 percent is composed of water. To sustain this level of water, and optimal health, we rely on several sources. Certainly, the 1 percent of Earth’s freshwater readily available to us is the major source.

But just as our physiology is comprised of a significant proportion of water, so too are other living organisms. The organisms that provide us with life-sustaining and vital nutrition. Most plants and vegetables contain significant levels of water. A balanced diet will provide much of the recommended water intake we need to sustain a healthy body. For example, a cucumber is 96 percent water by weight; watermelon is 92 percent.

And then there are water-based beverages that sustain our bodies and our lives: coffee, tea, juices – and wine.

There it is: wine. It is critical to sustaining the health of our bodies. More than 85 percent of a glass of wine is water.  

Whew, that was a long way to connect the vastness of nature to a single glass of wine for a light-hearted discourse on the importance of water in our lives.

There is much to appreciate and be in awe of in Mother Nature and, tangentially, today’s wines. They provide for the continuing health of our water-based physiology and enhance our ethereal appreciation of their essence.

Nick Antonaccio is a 45-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years, he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member and program director of the Wine Media Guild of wine journalists. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at nantonaccio@theexaminernews.com or on Twitter @sharingwine.



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