I interviewed Natalie MacLean, author of the bestselling book: Red, White and Drunk All Over, when she was in St. John’s on tour for her second book: Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines. MacLean was named the World’s Best Wine Writer at the World Food Media Awards for the wine picks and pairings she posts on Canada’s largest wine site and mobile smartphone apps at www.nataliemaclean.com. Here are some of the questions I asked and her responses.
Andrew: Where is home for you these days?
Natalie: Wherever there’s a good stash of wine, which fortunately happens to be Ottawa where I live now. However, my heart remains in Nova Scotia where I grew up.
Andrew: Where has your chosen profession enabled you to visit over the years?
Natalie: I’m so glad I don’t write about plumbing parts and have to tour dusty old factories in cold climates. My work requires me to visit gorgeous vineyards, mostly in warm regions, partake of glorious meals and meet welcoming people. It’s all research and part of the job. I’ve been across North and South America, Europe and South Africa. I loved visiting St. John’s recently: the people I met redefined hospitality for me.
Andrew: In your opinion, what’s the most underrated wine region?
Natalie: Our own Canadian wine regions are still underrated, even though our wines win medals in international competitions. Perhaps it’s the Celine Dion-Shania Twain syndrome: you need to get approval abroad before you’re accepted at home. That’s changing though as more and more of us taste just how good our wines can be, from dry reds and whites to our spectacular icewines and bubblies.
Andrew: Do you have a favourite food and wine pairing?
Natalie: I love to pair Pinot Noir with more Pinot Noir, but if food is required then just about any dish will work since this wine is so versatile. I love its silky texture that’s packed with berry flavour, but never tastes heavy. My favourite matches for Pinot Noir would be planked salmon, mushroom risotto and roast duck.
Andrew: What is the most popular question that people ask you about your job?
Natalie: How do I get your job? The second one is: Can you take me in your suitcase when you travel? People love the idea of making their passion for wine a full-time job. I say, why not? Following your bliss is the key to happiness in life. You don’t have to be a wine writer as there are lots of wine-related jobs, including sommelier, liquor store product consultant, importer, class instructor, tour guide, winemaker, winery owner and events organizer. If you’re not ready to make the leap full-time, start with a blog, your own thoughts about wine and tasting notes.
Andrew: If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?
Natalie: Buy a few cases of Domaine Romanee-Conti, the coveted Pinot Noir from Burgundy.
Andrew: If you could speak to anyone, who would it be and what would you ask?
Natalie: Sir Winston Churchill. I would ask: How did you manage to run a country and put away a pint of beer before breakfast?
Andrew: What five words of wine advice would you pass on to anyone reading this article?
Natalie: Feel, sense, taste, touch, savour.
Andrew: It was a real pleasure meeting Ms. MacLean. She was more knowledgable and personable than most people can imagine, and I’m now left eagerly awaiting our next rendezvous – I hope that this one doesn’t take as long to materialize as the first one. I highly recommend both of her books and have high expectations for the third, which I’ve been led to believe will focus exclusively on the Canadian wine industry. Bravo Natalie! Please keep up the very good work!
You can read more reviews of my new wine book Unquenchable here.