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Downward Dog Goes Bottoms Up at Yoga Class Wine Tasting

By Emily Frost | February 13, 2013 7:06am

UPPER EAST SIDE — For Stefani Jackenthal, a wine expert and sports junkie, yoga and wine go together like peanut butter and jelly, or spandex and downward dog.

Jackenthal, who owns her own wine-tasting company, NTS Wine Tasting, LLC, often teaches private parties or corporate groups about how to pair chocolate with wine. But when she got hooked on yoga recently, she had a revelation and decided the two activities were the perfect combination.

Now, she's offering private "Vino & Vinyasa" classes for about $35 to $45, calling upon her network of yoga instructors to join her at people's homes.

"People love the idea," she said. "We can bring a yoga instructor to someone’s home and then drink wine." 

And Jackenthal has also paired up with Pure Yoga to offer tastings for students — either before or after they've said their "ohms" for the day.

In the first few events, at the Upper East Side location and Wednesday on the Upper West Side from 6:30 to 8 p.m., the yoga studio is extending the invitation to enjoy Jackenthal's tastings as a free benefit only to members and their friends. 

"Wine is a yogi's best friend," proclaimed Francesca Valarezo as she sipped some of Jackenthal's pinot noir after a vinyasa class. "It's healthy. It's a holistic medicine for the body."

Jared Weintraub, a self-proclaimed "wino" from Riverdale and an Upper East Side yoga practitioner who said his last name literally translates to "bunch of grapes" echoed the message of health.

"There's nothing wrong with [wine]," Weintraub said. "It comes from the ground. It's natural."

Jackenthal said she expects to be back at Pure in the future, offering tastings aimed at a wider audience, including those who are trying yoga at the studio for the first time. 

Though some see yoga as a process of detoxification with post-class imbibing cancelling out the benefits of the practice, Jackenthal said she's never heard that point of view expressed. 

Instead, she said, "for the most part people are pretty psyched when they come out of the class."

After all, she remarked, "We’re not chugging."

Jackenthal sees drinking wine after yoga as a way of extending the calm, Zen feeling of yoga for a little longer, before it's time to face the hustle and bustle of the world.

"I can get really strung out," Jackenthal admitted. "Yoga makes me stop and listen."

And after she's found focus and calm, she said, "All I want to do is relax with some wine and great conversation." 

At the Pure Yoga tastings, Jackenthal said she'll have wine from India for a little something different and also organic and local wine.

Jackenthal's motto is "wine tasting without the attitude" and she believes yogis are more open to expressing themselves about wine and trying new things after they've attended a class. 

"A lot of people get nervous around wine. They think there’s a right and wrong answer," she said. "After a yoga class, their barriers are down — they’re not as critical of themselves."