Wine tasting can work the brain more than math, according to neuroscience

If you're a wine connoisseur or enjoy a good Cabernet, you likely don't need another reason to put "wine tasting" on a list of activities you like. But science has one for you: it can stimulate the brain more than a lot of other activities (from listening to a Beethoven concerto to solving a complex trigonometry problem).

Don't go thinking that's a license to start guzzling glass after glass of Rosé with reckless abandon, however. A key part of the activity is the "concentrated discrimination of the taste of wine," explains Gordon M. Shepherd, PhD, DPhil, Professor of Neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine, who wrote the book on this topic, "Neuroenology". That means the brain ramps it up when you're actively engaged in tasting your libation, but probably not so much if you're thoughtlessly gulping. (And that's whether you're a sommelier or a novice sipper.)

RELATED: Wines we love that won't break the bank 

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50 great-tasting red wines under $20
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50 great-tasting red wines under $20

CLINE ZINFANDEL ($14)

Cline Cellars has been making rich and indulgent wines in the family tradition from Sonoma, California, since the 1990s. Its entry-level zinfandel offers plenty of ripe berry and spice flavor. It is smooth enough to enjoy on its own and powerful enough to pair with steak.

CRANE LAKE CABERNET SAUVIGNON ($6)

This California line represents one of the best values in domestic wines. The cabernet is round and smooth, with supporting notes of raspberries, blackcurrants, and hints of earth. It is a cheerful wine that suits any occasion, be it casual or fancy

BODEGAS LUZÓN VERDE ($8)

An organic wine from Jumilla, Spain, this all-purpose red has a medium body, flavors of spicy red fruit, and notes of earthy foliage, baking spices, and ripe red berries. Soft enough to be enjoyed without food, it also pairs well with grilled meats and hearty vegetables.

QUPÉ CENTRAL COAST SYRAH ($18)

This is an elegant wine with deeply concentrated flavors of black cherry, red plums, and spice-laden cassis. The Central Coast of California is known for producing wines of considerable heft, and this full-bodied wine is typical of the bold style.

FOXGLOVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON ($15)

Made from grapes sourced from different subregions within California's Central Coast, the entire Foxglove line is quick to sell out, thanks to its reputation for delicious, high-value wines. The cabernet sauvignon is typical of the region, with notes of currants and green bell pepper.

EMILIO MORO FINCA RESALSO ($18)

Emilio Moro is a well-known producer from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain, famous for powerful and luscious red wines that are best paired with hearty meals. This wine is in line with the traditional style, offering big flavors of chocolate, blackberries, and hot and sweet spices, with a long, velvety finish.

MULDERBOSCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROSÉ ($13)

From one of the most popular producers from South Africa, this cabernet sauvignon rosé has been a popular bottle since it was first released in 1999. It's a particularly full-flavored rosé with tons of berry and cherry flavors.

COLUMBIA CREST GRAND ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON ($12)

Situated along the Columbia River in Washington state, Columbia Crest produces wines that have won awards from Wine Spectator, among others, and has a deserved reputation for excellence. This is a full red wine with plenty of spice and fruit.

CASTLE ROCK MENDOCINO PINOT NOIR ($12)

From Mendocino, California, this medium-bodied pinot noir is one of Castle Rock's top sellers and widely recognized as a good value in domestic pinot noir. The flavors include bright cherry, hints of violet, and plenty of earthy herbs. Delicious on its own, it would also pair well with duck or turkey.

CASAMATTA ROSSO ($14)

From producer Bibi Graetz, this juicy wine from Tuscany, Italy, is an old standby for inexpensive, high-quality red. Made from 100 percent sangiovese grapes, it has a tart and tangy profile full of red fruit and spice that is begging to be paired with red sauce, from pizza to lasagna to mushroom bolognese.

LINDEMAN'S BIN 40 MERLOT ($7)

Hailing from southeastern Australia, this cheap and cheerful wine is an all-purpose, easy-drinking red. Round and smooth, in true merlot fashion, it features ripe red berry flavors with some herbal notes underneath. Keeping a couple of these on hand for impromptu occasions is always a good idea.

RAVENSWOOD VINTNERS BLEND OLD VINE ZINFANDEL ($11)

Ravenswood is known for its zinfandel, which gets its powerful kick from the old vines from Sonoma, California. In this yearly release, flavors of blueberry, black cherry, chocolate, and spice are all rolled up into a velvety-smooth, full body. Open it on a cozy night by the fire.

MONTINORE ESTATE PINOT NOIR ($16)

Arguably the best value in Oregon's Willamette Valley, this entire line of wines is stellar. The pinot noir is a blend of styles, incorporating the elegance and lighter body associated with traditional European wines as well as the full flavor of cherries, flowers, and earth characteristic of domestic pinot noir.

LOUIS JADOT BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES ($12)

A tried-and-true classic, Louis Jadot's Beaujolais-Villages is a standard among wine enthusiasts. The medium-bodied red is full of plum, berry, spice, and earth flavors that combine to make a balanced wine. It is smooth and light enough to stand alone and plenty flavorful enough to go with food.

REGALEALI NERO D'AVOLA ($14) 

From producer Tasca d'Almerita in Sicily, this wine is one of many bottles proving that the Italian island is home to some of the very best wine values worldwide. The bright juicy wine is medium-bodied with considerable cherry and raspberry flavors. A long finish highlights the silky texture.

Related: 10 Wines to Ease Winter's Chill on the Cheap
 

TERRAZAS DE LOS ANDES RESERVA MALBEC ($18)

Argentinian malbec has become a darling of the wine world, and this example from Mendoza delivers on every expectation. It's a big, plush wine full of dark fruit flavors with undertones of chocolate and smoky earth. Enjoy it alongside hearty fare in cool weather.

CONO SUR BICICLETA PINOT NOIR ($10)

This all-purpose, medium-bodied red is made with sustainably grown grapes from Chile. The flavors are light and typical of the variety, offering hints of cherries and red berries. It works especially well chilled, in warm weather or with spicy foods.

BOB'S PINOTAGE ($9)

A South African specialty, the pinotage grape makes a hefty red wine that is earthy, spicy, and totally dry. This inexpensive bottle is a good, full-flavored introduction to the variety. Proceeds support HIV/AIDS awareness and research.

KINGSTON ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON ($15)

This Australian wine has undertones of smoky berries, chocolate, and earthy herbs like rosemary. The texture is bold and soft, giving this full-bodied wine a velvety feel. It's meant to pair with roasts and steaks.

DINGAČ PLAVAC MALI ($15)

The plavac mali grape is a Croatian relative of zinfandel, offering many of the same flavors. This medium-bodied wine is perfumed with blueberries, mace, nutmeg, and juicy red fruit. Enjoy it on its own or with food, room temperature or chilled.

MARIUS GRENACHE SYRAH ($10)

This blend of syrah and grenache comes from Michel Chapoutier, a well-known producer of French wines from the Rhône Valley. A silky body unveils flavors of spicy berries, pink peppercorn, and wild mountain herbs. True to its European heritage, this wine is best served with food.

INDABA MOSAIC RED ($12)

Indaba is a consistently inexpensive and good-quality producer of red and white wines from South Africa. In this red blend, Bordeaux grape varieties create a supple, smooth, and rich wine with flavors of cranberry and baking spices.

BANDIT MERLOT ($10)

Packed in environmentally friendly Tetra Pak containers, this crisp and easy-drinking California wine comes in a liter size. That's 25 percent larger than a regular bottle, making the savings even more pronounced. The flavor profile is supple, round, and smooth.

BIG HOUSE RED ($10)

This juicy and powerful California wine gets its name from a nearby prison yard. The flavors are bright and concentrated, with tons of juicy cherry and raspberry flavors, hints of chocolate, and earthy elements that linger on the finish.

CHONO CABERNET SAUVIGNON ($11)

Chilean wine is becoming known for sophisticated flavors and low prices, and Chono cabernet is a good example why. This full-bodied red is laden with flavors of tobacco, cocoa, and black raspberries, with distinct green pepper notes coming through. This is the bottle for a steak dinner.

JELU MALBEC ($12)

Having a good go-to malbec is important, because it has become one of the most popular varieties in the United States. This example from an organic Argentinian producer delivers the full body, dark fruit flavors, and silky tannins that people have come to love in malbec.

BOGLE PETIT SYRAH ($9)

Petit syrah is a variety of grape that makes intense wines with a deep concentration of ripe plums and berry flavors along with considerable spice. This California version does not disappoint, offering all the typical flavors in an inexpensive bottle.

UNDERWOOD PINOT NOIR ($14)

Inexpensive pinot noir can be difficult to find from any country. This Oregon producer prides itself on upholding strict quality standards while creating an affordable, everyday wine. The pinot noir has flavors of cherries and flowers, a medium body, and a silky finish.

VRAC CÔTES DU RHÔNE ($12) 

Wines from the Rhône region in central France are known for being easy drinking and pairing well with a variety of foods. This one is a medium-bodied wine with juicy red fruit flavors, undertones of cinnamon, and a balanced, dry finish.

Related: Cheers to Julia Child: 11 Recipes for Leftover Wine
 

CHÂTEAU MARIS OLD SCHOOL ($17)

This red blend from the Minervois region of France is a nice change of pace from many other inexpensive options. The flavors are bold and rich with notes of lilac and violets alongside ripe and spicy fruits. The producer's biodynamic practices add a lot of character.

GNARLY HEAD OLD VINE ZIN ($12)

A classic California producer, Gnarly Head has an entire line of wines made from old vines that provide depth of character and concentration. No matter what the vintage, this zinfandel is a full-bodied wine that leads with spicy blueberries and blackberries and notes of dark roasted coffee.

HEDGES CMS RED ($10)

In production since 1987, this blend from Washington state is a standby for delicious red wine at a good price. It's a structured, balanced wine with black and red fruit flavors, bright acidity, and a smooth, medium body.

LA VIEILLE FERME ROUGE ($8)

This medium-bodied, spicy, and fruity wine is an easy-drinking all-purpose red. Tasty on its own, it also pairs well with many types of food, from burgers to Thai. The blend of grapes from the Rhône region of France creates a smooth texture.

GOULEYANT CAHORS MALBEC ($14)

This medium-bodied wine from producer Georges Vigoureux comes from the homeland of malbec, in southwestern France. It is similar to malbec from Argentina but with a slightly lighter profile and a touch more elegance, rather than boldness. The flavors play between juicy blackberries and baking spices.

SAN FELICE IL GRIGIO CHIANTI CLASSICO ($19)

Chianti is one of those wines that will always be a classic. Whether it's for casual pizza night or homemade eggplant parm, this wine is an inexpensive go-to for Italian fare made with red sauce. The medium-bodied wine balances traditional flavors of cherries, spices, and earthy herbs.

IL FAGGIO MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO ($11)

From the Italian wine region Abruzzo, this is an easy-drinking wine that suits most any occasion. It's a crowd-pleaser with a medium body, flavors of red fruit, and hints of spice.

RED TRUCK CALIFORNIA RED ($10)

In this blend, five grapes from various regions in California come together to create a well-integrated and drinkable red wine. Flavors of red fruit and baking spices and a velvety finish characterize this anytime wine.

VERAMONTE MERLOT ($10)

The flavors of this soft wine from Chile are characteristic of merlot, offering ripe plum, blackberries, and a smooth, velvety texture. Hand harvesting ensures only high-quality grapes go into the wine.

PORTILLO MALBEC ($9)

Not all malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, is created equal, and the Portillo from Bodegas Salentein has been recognized as one of the top examples. Bold flavors of cocoa, coffee, and tobacco are complemented by juicy dark fruit flavors and a smooth finish.

LIBERTY SCHOOL CABERNET SAUVIGNON ($16)

This straightforward cabernet is spice forward, with elements of black peppercorn, menthol, and cinnamon all wrapped up in fine tannins that are satiny on the palate. This wine from Paso Robles, California, has been given high scores by Wine Spectator for its quality.

GEYSER PEAK CABERNET SAUVIGNON ($14)

Having made appearances on various lists for its quality and value, Geyser Peak sets a benchmark for inexpensive wines that taste good. The cabernet sauvignon is a blend of flavors, mixing blackberry preserves with herbs like rosemary and thyme and a hint of nuttiness on the back end.

WOLFFER ESTATE CLASSIC RED ($18)

This is one of the few New York wines that sells for less than $20 and maintains a high level of quality. A food-friendly red from a leading producer, it's rich with smoky cedar notes that mingle with the intense red fruit and overall smooth and dry palate.

FONTANAFREDDA BRICCOTONDO BARBERA ($12)

Barbera is one of the premier grapes from the Piedmont region of Italy. While most of the wines from this area are quite expensive, this juicy, medium-bodied wine allows drinkers to savor the flavors of the region for less.

D'ARENBERG STUMP JUMP SHIRAZ ($13)

When grown in Australia, the syrah grape is called shiraz and makes a richer, fuller wine than syrah from other areas of the world. This example is full-bodied and full of plush red and black fruit flavors, along with baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace.

CANTINA ZACCAGNINI MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO ($14)

This traditional Italian wine still comes with a straw and twig decoration that people who have been drinking wine for 30 years will remember. With easygoing flavors of red raspberry, baked cherry, and herbal undertones, it's a crowd-pleasing choice for any occasion.

HESS SELECT CABERNET SAUVIGNON ($13)

This sturdy wine from California can be a workhorse during any season. The full body encompasses traditional flavors of red and black currants, blackberries, and hints of green peppers that are classic and balanced.

MEIOMI PINOT NOIR ($18)

A fuller style of pinot noir from California, this wine is for those who love the delicate floral and cherry flavors of pinot but want a rich and bold wine. The silky body continues to develop and unveil flavors of mushroom and earth as the bottle breaths.

NOVECENTO MALBEC ($9)

A classic Argentinian malbec from producer Dante Robino, this red is full-bodied, with smooth flavors of blackberry, black cherries, and juicy plums. Undertones of cocoa powder and hints of cayenne pepper keep the overall profile dry and well-matched for rich meat dishes.

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"It involves multiple sensory and motor systems, as well as central conceptual systems for cognition and memory — and systems for emotion and pleasure," Shepherd says. So the brain becomes more engaged in wine tasting than it would, for example, be when it comes to solving a math problem or listening to music, which involve fewer body systems working together.

A key point (and yes, a somewhat abstract one to wrap your head around) is that the flavors we perceive aren't in the food or drink itself, but rather something that the brain creates.

The brain creates all of what we see and feel

The brain actually creates all of our sensory world, Shepherd says. Color, for example, does not exist in the objects we see. Whether something appears purple or orange to us is instead a result of the way light hits that object and those different wave lengths of light stimulate the circuits of our brain (which we've identified as different colors). Similarly, we feel pain because of the neural processing that happens in the brain in response to a stimulus that something is wrong with another part of our body (such as a brick falling on our foot).

"In the same way, molecules in food and wine have no flavor in themselves," he says. "Our sensory systems create our perceptions of flavor."

RELATED: Alcohol liquor laws by state 

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Alcohol, liquor laws by state
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Alcohol, liquor laws by state

Alabama

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 24hrs, unless restricted by local laws

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: Yes

(Facebook/Black Warrior Brewing Company)

Alaska

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 8 a.m. - 5 a.m. (except election days)

Grocery Store Sales: None

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Alaskan Brewing)

Arizona

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 6 a.m. - 2 a.m., 7 days a week

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine)

Arkansas

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. (Class A Private Clubs); 10 a.m. - 5 a.m. (Class B Private Clubs); 7 a.m. - 1 a.m. (restaurants)

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 7 a.m. - 1 a.m., Mon. - Fri.; 7 a.m. - midnight, Sat.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Wiederkehr Wine Cellars)

California

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 6 a.m. - 2 a.m.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images For Live In The Vineyard LLC)

Connecticut

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 9 a.m. - 1 a.m., Mon. - Thurs.; 9 a.m. - 2 a.m., Fri. - Sat.; 11 a.m. - 1 a.m., Sun.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., Mon. - Sat.; 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sun.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer 

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Peel Liquers)

Delaware

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 9 a.m. - 1 a.m.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 9 a.m. - 1 a.m., Mon. - Sat.; noon - 8 p.m., Sun.

Grocery Store Sales: No

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Dogfish Head Beer)

Florida

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): Sales prohibited between 3.a.m. - 7 a.m., unless a county chooses to change operating hours

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Siesta Key Gold Rum)

Georgia

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): Determined by local jurisdictions

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/SweetWater Brewing Company)

Hawaii

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): Until 2 a.m.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 6 a.m. - 12 a.m. (Honolulu County); 6 a.m. - 11 p.m. (Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii counties)

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Pau Maui Vodka)

Idaho

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 6 a.m. - 2 a.m. (7 a.m. - 1 a.m. in some counties) 

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: Yes

(Facebook/American Harvest Organic Vodka)

Illinois

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): Determined by local jurisdictions

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Goose Island Beer)

Indiana

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 7 a.m. - 3 a.m.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 7 a.m. - 3 a.m. (no sales on Sundays)

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Sun King Brewing Company)

Iowa

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 6 a.m. - 2 a.m., Mon. - Sat.; 8 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sun.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: Yes

(Facebook/Mississippi River Distilling Company)

Kansas

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 9 a.m. - 2 a.m. (some communities do not allow sales)

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 9 a.m. - 11 p.m., Mon. - Sat.; noon - 7 p.m. or 8 p.m., Sun. (some communities do not allow sales)

Grocery Store Sales: 3.2% Beer Only

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Free State Brewing)

Louisiana

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): No statewide restrictions

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Abita Beer)

Maine

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 6 a.m - 1 a.m., Mon - Sat.; 9 a.m. - 1 a.m., Sun.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: Yes

(Facebook/Allagash Brewing Company)

Maryland

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): Determined by local jurisdictions

Grocery Store Sales: Determined by local jurisdictions

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: Determined by local jurisdictions

(Facebook/Flying Dog Brewery)

Michigan

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 7 a.m. - 2 a.m.; noon-2 a.m. on Sun., sales may begin at 7 a.m. with special extension license

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. Mon-Sat); noon-2 a.m. on Sunday 

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Founders Brewing)

Minnesota

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 8 a.m. - 2 a.m.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. Mon. - Sat.

Grocery Store Sales: Only 3.2% Beer

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Summit Brewing Company)

Mississippi

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): Local authorities fix hours of alcohol sale

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): Local authorities fix hours of alcohol sale

Grocery Store Sales: Beer

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company)

Missouri

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 6 a.m. - 1:30 a.m., Mon. - Sat.; 9 a.m. - 12 a.m., Sun.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)

Montana

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 24 hours 

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Madison River Brewing Company)

Nebraska

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 6 a.m.-1a.m. 2 a.m. with two-thirds approval of city or county councils

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 6 a.m.-1a.m.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Nebraska Brewing Company)

Nevada

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 24 hours

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Great Basin Brewing Company)

New Hampshire

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 6 a.m. - 1 a.m.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 6 a.m. - 11:45 p.m. 

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Smuttynose Brewing Company)

New Jersey

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): For the most part last call is 2 a.m., but larger cities tend to set closing time at 3 a.m. Atlantic City and Brigantine serve 24 hours, and Ocean City is a dry town.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 9 a.m.-10 p.m. unless bar/restaurant has license to permit beer/wine off-premises, then hours must be the same as on-premise hours

Grocery Store Sales: Rarely Beer, Wine or Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Jersey Artisan Distilling)

New Mexico

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. Mon. -Sat.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 7 a.m. - midnight Mon. - Sat.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/SilverCoin Tequila)

New York

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Mon-Sat, Noon - 4 a.m. Sun

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): Beer is 24 hours, Wine and spirits is 8 a.m. - midnight Mon-Sat, noon - 9 p.m. Sun

Grocery Store Sales: Beer

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Widow Jane Distillery)

North Carolina

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. Mon. - Sat., Noon - 2 a.m. Sun.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): Beer and wine are 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. Mon. - Sat., noon-2 a.m. Sun. Spirits is 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Mon. - Sat.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Mystery Brewing)

North Dakota

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 8 a.m. - 2 a.m. Mon-Sat, Noon - 2 a.m. Sun

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 8 a.m. - 2 a.m. Mon-Sat, Noon - 2 a.m. Sun

Grocery Store Sales: None

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Fargo Brewing Company)

Ohio

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 5:30 a.m. - 2:30 a.m. 

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 5:30 a.m.- 1 a.m.

Grocery Store Sales: Anything under 21 percent ABV

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Ernest Scarano Distillery)

Oklahoma

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 5:30 a.m. - 2:30 a.m. 

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 5:30 a.m.- 1 a.m.

Grocery Store Sales: Anything under 21 percent ABV

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Marshall Brewing Company)

Oregon

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 7 a.m. - 2:30 a.m. 

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 5:30 a.m.- 2:30 a.m.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Widmer Brothers Brewing)

Pennsylvania

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 7 a.m.-3 a.m. (Mon-Sat) Hotels and restaurants: 9 a.m. - 2 a.m.

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. Mon - Sat, noon - 5 p.m. Sun

Grocery Store Sales: None

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Penn 1681 Vodka)

Rhode Island

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): 9 a.m.- 1 a.m. Mon-Sat noon - 1 a.m. Sun

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. Mon - Sat, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sun

Grocery Store Sales: None

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Grey Sail Brewing)

South Carolina

Alcohol Sales Hours (On-Premises): Determined by local jurisdictions

Alcohol Sales Hours (Off-Premises): Beer and low-alcohol wine are 24 hours, spirits 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. Mon-Sat

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Dark Corner Distillery)

South Dakota

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): Determined by local jurisdictions

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Baumberger Vineyard and Winery)

Tennessee

Alcohol Sales Hours (on-premises) : 8 a.m. - 3 a.m. Mon - Sat, noon - 3 a.m. Sun, hours can be modified by local jurisdictions.

Alcohol Sales Hours (off-premises): 7 a.m. - 3 a.m. Mon - Sat

Grocery Store Sales: Beer

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for New York Magazine)

Texas

Alcohol Sales Hours (on-premises) : 7 a.m. - midnight Mon - Fri, 7 a.m. - 1 a.m. Sat., noon - midnight Sun.

Alcohol Sales Hours (off-premises): Beer/non-hard liquor 7 a.m. - midnight Mon. - Fri., 7 a.m. - 1 a.m. Sat., noon to midnight Sun. Hard liquor 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Mon. - Sat.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Garrison Brothers Distillery)

Utah

Alcohol Sales Hours (on-premises) : Restaurants serve noon - midnight for liquor, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. for beer, bars may serve liquor 10 a.m. - 1 a.m.

Alcohol Sales Hours (off-premises): Varies by state liquor store hours

Grocery Store Sales: Only 3.2 percent beer

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/High West Distillery)

Vermont

Alcohol Sales Hours (on-premises) : 8 a.m. - 2 a.m.

Alcohol Sales Hours (off-premises): 6 a.m. - midnight

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Magic Hat Brewing Company)

Virginia

Alcohol Sales Hours (on-premises) : 6 a.m. - 2 a.m., no restrictions at any time for club licenses. 

Alcohol Sales Hours (off-premises): 6 a.m. - 11:59 p.m. except local Blue Law.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer and Wine

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Blue Mountain Brewery)

Washington

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 6 a.m. - 2 a.m., local government subdivisions may establish later opening hours or earlier closing hours.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Spirits

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Big Al Brewing)

West Virginia

Alcohol Sales Hours (on-premises) : Beer/Wine served 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. Mon. - Sat., 1 p.m. - 2 a.m. Sun. Liquor served 8 a.m. - midnight Mon- Sat.

Alcohol Sales Hours (off-premises): 7 a.m. - 3:30 a.m. Mon. - Fri., 8 a.m. - 3 a.m., Sat., 1 p.m. - 3 a.m. Sun.

Grocery Store Sales: Beer, Wine and Liquor

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Bloomery Plantation Distillery) 

Wyoming

Alcohol Sales Hours (On and Off-Premises): 6 a.m. - 2 a.m.

Grocery Store Sales: No

Alcoholic Beverage Control State: No

(Facebook/Wyoming Whiskey)

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But what's different about taste compared to our other senses is that so many body systems and sensory processes are involved, as Shepherd explains in a 2015 review article published in the journal Flavour.

First the senses: Our sense of smell (both the odor stimuli we get from sniffing in as well as from breathing out) are involved. And our sense of sight is involved, perceiving what the food or drink looks like. And there's the sense of touch (or the texture of food) we feel in our mouth and our tongue. Additionally, different muscle and motor systems are involved in the physical process of tasting (the tongue, jaw, cheek, neck and more).

Then there are the brain systems involved (the central behavioral systems): Memory systems are engaged in recognizing flavors you've experienced before. You may or may not have an emotional response to a wine. Hormonal systems may be triggered to deliver a dopamine (pleasure) response. The brain regions that control motivation are activated to determine whether or not you'll keep drinking. The pleasure network in the brain makes the final decision on our rating of the wine. And the part of the brain that controls language and communication is activated if you're telling others about what you just tasted.

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Fill up on fewer calories

Start your meals with veggie-packed salads or soups, or use small plates to trick your brain into thinking your meals look bigger than they actually are. Filling up on fewer calories allows you to shed pounds, which can help reverse other risks for Alzheimer’s disease, including sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Cutting your daily intake of calories by 30 to 50 percent also reduces your metabolic rate and therefore slows oxidation throughout the body, including the brain. It lowers blood glucose and insulin levels, too.

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Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day

Higher vegetable consumption was associated with slower rate of cognitive decline in 3,718 people aged 65 years and older who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. Study participants filled out food logs and agreed to undergo tests of their cognitive abilities periodically for six years. All of the study participants scored lower on cognitive tests at the end of the study than they did at the beginning, but those who consumed more than four daily servings of vegetables experienced a 40 percent slower decline in their abilities than people who consumed less than one daily serving. Make sure you can recognize the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s every adult should know.

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Use spices liberally

Herbs and spices add flavor to food, allowing you to cut back on butter, oil, and salt. Because they come from plants, many herbs and spices also contain antioxidants and offer many healing benefits, including Alzheimer’s prevention. Several different studies show that curcumin, for example, helps to reduce the risk of cancer, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Just a quarter teaspoon of the spice twice a day has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar up to 29 percent in people with type 2 diabetes. This is important because type 2 diabetes can raise your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

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Marinate meat before cooking

When fat, protein, and sugar react with heat, certain harmful compounds form called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). They are found in particularly high levels in bacon, sausages, processed meats, and fried and grilled foods. The consumption of high amounts of AGEs has been shown to cause harmful changes in the brain. But there’s an easy way to slash your AGE consumption: Make your food (especially meats) as moist as possible. By boiling, braising, poaching, or marinating meat and fish before grilling or broiling, you allow moisture to permeate their flesh, dramatically reducing the AGEs.

Eat coldwater fish once a week

Fish that swim in cold waters tend to develop a layer of fat to keep them warm. Called omega-3 fatty acid, this type of fat has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body when consumed by humans. In a study of 815 people, people who consumed fish at least once a week reduced their Alzheimer’s disease risk by 60 percent compared to people who rarely or never ate fish.

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Snack on nuts and seeds

In addition to being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds also provide a good dose of selenium and vitamin E, two other nutrients that may promote brain health. Walnuts may be a particularly potent source of edible brain protection. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are rich in antioxidants that have been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s disease in mice. Steer clear of these 9 habits that can seriously up your dementia risk.

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Drink several cups of tea a day

Black and green tea are rich sources of antioxidants called catechins that may fend off oxidative damage throughout the body, including the brain. Green tea is also a rich source of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to reduce beta-amyloid plaque and tau tangles in mice. Tea has also been shown to drop blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

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Enjoy coffee in the morning

Caffeine consumed too late in the day may disturb your sleep. But coffee consumed in the morning and perhaps the early afternoon, depending on your personal caffeine sensitivity, may reduce risk. Coffee contains a chemical called eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT) that, in studies done on rats, has been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. The caffeine itself may also be protective: Mice developed fewer tau tangles in their brains when their drinking water was infused with caffeine. In humans, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that 200 milligrams of caffeine—the amount in one strong cup of coffee—can help us consolidate memories and more easily memorize new information. Don’t miss these 15 other things neurologists do to prevent Alzheimer’s.

Eat dinner with dark chocolate, not chocolate cake

Most desserts are rich in blood-sugar-spiking sugar, and recent research has linked high blood sugar levels with oxidative damage as well as an elevated production of beta-amyloid protein plaque. Chocolate, however, may be one exception. Chocolate contains antioxidant chemicals called flavonoidsprotective substances also present in many brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Baby boomers who consumed chocolate-rich drinks twice a day for three months performed as well on memory tests as did people a few decades younger. In part of the same study, tests revealed that the chocolate drinks also seemed to improve blood flow to the hippocampi regions of the brain. Here are even more everyday habits that can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.

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Technically wine is a food. So does the same thing happen in your brain when you're tasting, let's say, a piece of chocolate cake or a type of olive oil with "concentrated discrimination"?

In principle, yes, Shepherd says. But wine is composed almost wholly from molecules that give it its distinct taste, versus other foods composed of molecules that provide nutrition, too. So, according to Shepherd: "Wine drinkers therefore can concentrate exclusively on perceptual details about flavor."

Taste depends on a lot more than the chemical composition of wine

Charles Spence, PhD, Professor of Experimental Psychology at University of Oxford, studies how the human mind processes information from the environment around us. Work from his lab suggests that there are a lot of factors besides the chemical composition of a wine affect what we taste, and therefore the brain is busy when we're (thoughtfully) tasting it.

"A lot of pleasure resides in the expectations we have that can come from the weight of the bottle, the type of closure and the music playing in the background," he says. "All these other factors [can] typically elevate the experience."

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Improving your brain health by consuming more omega-3s may be easier than you think.

Salmon

Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3s, particularly wild salmon or fish oil extracted from salmon.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds, according to Nutrition Data, have the highest levels of omega-3s than any other substance on earth.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of omega-3s. Try replacing your everyday vegetable oil with walnut oil to ensure a higher consumption of omega-3s.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Sardines

Sardines can make a great addition to your next salad, as well as possessing a high level of omega-3 fatty acids.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Spinach

Spinach is another omega-3-rich food that would go great on your next salad.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Ham

You may be surprised to learn that Oscar Mayer ham, according to Nutrition Data, contains as high a level of omega-3s when baked or cooked as many varieties of fish.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Oregano

Many spices are high in omega-3s, offering an opportunity to add this vital ingredient into your diet while seasoning your favorite meals. Among the spices that are high in omega-3s, oregano ranks at the top of the list.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Boxed Cereal

Meats, vegetables, and nuts are not the only vital sources of omega-3s out there. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that certain boxed cereals, like Uncle Sam, have significantly high levels of omega-3s.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Tarragon

Tarragon is both a spice high in omega-3s and an excellent way to season your next chicken meal.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds aren't just a furry desk pet anymore. Chia seeds offer higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than any other seed.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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A 2017 study from him and his colleagues suggest that even for wine writers, whether the taster hears a cork being popped or a screw-cap bottle being unscrewed can affect their ratings — likely because each sound sets off different expectations, which do affect taste, according to the paper. The study included 140 individuals (all with varying levels of wine expertise), and is still a preliminary investigation of the question.

Other data found how heavy a wine bottle is and the music a taster is listening to can change the words we use to describe it.

Together the research says it's the total multisensory experience that explains why tasting wine engages so much of the brain, Spence says — "whereas a concert only engages one sense: hearing."

If you're tasting a wine and trying to distinguish different notes and distinctive aromas, he adds — "and trying to fit that with prior wines we have tasted, there is a lot going on."

The caveat, however, is there's a danger in suggesting that all flavor happens in the brain, as the chemical composition of what you're drinking must be relevant, too. (No matter what music is playing and how fancy a bottle a liquid comes out of, you likely won't mix up the tastes of wine and orange juice, for example.)

"But the perception and enjoyment we experience is clearly a construct of the mind that engages the senses and links to our memories," Spence explains.

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Does that mean that wine tasting is good for my brain?

This is where the discussion gets tricky. Wine tasting as an activity may engage the brain more than other activities. (And that activation is how we learn things and sharpen our cognitive skills, Shepherd says.)

But that doesn't mean that the alcohol you're putting in your body isn't causing other problems. A large, global analysis published in August of more than 700 studies that looked at alcohol consumption and disease burden found that it actually may be that any amount of drinking heightens disease risk.

"It's hard to argue against the neuroscience [Shepherd] presents," says David A. Merrill, MD, PhD, a clinical research scientist and psychiatrist at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at University of California-Los Angeles. "It is entertaining to think of how many neural systems are activated from a process that looks so simple on the surface."

But there's also pretty convincing evidence that alcohol consumption can do it's share of damage, too. For any patients with early-stage memory loss, depression, anxiety, insomnia and fall risk, drinking alcohol can worsen these problems. And there's the concerning findings in that new study on the global disease burden of alcohol, he says.

The bottom line, he says: "Wine is a double-edged sword."

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