The book, Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines, chronicles MacLean’s lively forays into wine regions and interviews with some of the world’s top winemakers, both familiar (Australia’s Wolf Blass) to less-known but equally influential (Italy’s Andrea Franchetti); the book is already on bestseller lists across Canada.
Her award-winning first book, “Red, White and Drunk All Over,” was also a bestseller. It was published in 2006 in seven countries and several languages.
In addition to writing books, MacLean publishes Nat Decants, a popular wine website and e-newsletter, which has more than 127,000 subscribers.
The mother of a 13-year-old boy, Rian, MacLean is also the wine columnist for Homemakers magazine and a contributor to Ottawa Magazine.
Currently on a national book launch tour, MacLean will be in Calgary at Pages Books on Nov. 19, in Vancouver at the Fairmont Pacific Rim on Nov. 21, Niagara’s Casablanca Winery Inn on Nov. 22, Toronto’s Grano Restaurant on Nov. 23, and Halifax’s Atlantica Hotel on Nov. 27. (For more tour dates and information, go to nataliemaclean.com.)
Here, MacLean shares with Wine Access eight fun facts about how she approaches writing, and a couple of the people she encountered along the way to her latest bestseller:
On what her readers want:
“Travel! They say, ‘Take me, as an armchair traveler, somewhere that I may or may not be able to travel to by myself,” she says.
On her definition of a bargain wine:
“A bargain isn’t just cheap. It’s something that’s priced lower than you think it should be. It’s when something overdelivers, to use a cliché.”
On bestselling author Frances Mayes (“Under the Tuscan Sun”), who is quoted on the cover of MacLean’s book:
“I haven’t met her, but she’s a wonderful woman on email. She even sent me a bottle of olive oil,” says MacLean. “I met her via someone I met on Twitter. A friend in California on Twitter, we were always exchanging wine tips and having fun; she mentioned she was going to visit with Frances Mayes, and I said, ‘Oh, you know her?’ She made the connection for me.”
On why MacLean decided to write a second book:
“It’s that connection to readers. It’s impossible to resist. “I get these notes from people, one woman who was at the base camp for Mount Everest, saw the poster for my book on the wall. Another guy was at sea in a submarine for three months; he read my book while he was there. Someone else decided to become a sommelier after reading my first book. That’s why I couldn’t resist writing another one.”
On what she set out to accomplish with the new book:
“Wine’s my excuse to be nosy. I looked for the most interesting people to talk to,” she says. “But people want to be entertained before they want to be educated. I always keep that in mind.”
Her secrets for finding time to be a mom, maintain her popular website and write books:
“I’m a really early riser. Incredibly early, 4:30 or 5 a.m. every day. I’ve always been a morning person. Never had an alarm clock in my life. “I’ll work a couple of hours before Ryan gets up, and then again when I get back from driving him to school. I’ll work till 12:30; then I’ll have lunch and work out to clear my brain. Then I’ll rev up again from 3:30 to 6 p.m., and that’s it for the day.”
On interviewing the legendary Wolf Blass, one of the most entertaining profiles in a very entertaining book:
“He makes for a great interview because of his colourful personality. But it’s not just that. It’s his passion. That really shines through,” she says. “He really loves what he does and he’s not going to stop, even though he’s in his 70s. “And he cares. He may be one of the best marketers I’ve ever met, but he cares about the quality of his wine, too.”
On her own secrets for quality, good grammar and accuracy:
“I have this giant editorial board with the e-newsletter that I send out. I call them Wine Lovers for Better Grammar; they remind me of every missing comma or dangling participle.”
Good Quotes from “Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines”
•“Some critics pride themselves on their ‘objectivity,’ and don’t use first-person narrative. Not me. I’m neurotically personal, prone to tangential digressions and Bridget Jones-like overreactions. I fall in love too easily with people, places and wines.”
•“The most famous fan of rosados was Ernest Hemingway, who reportedly gulped down two bottles a day during those sultry afternoons spent watching the bullfights in Pamplona, Navarra’s capital. He also filled wineskins to take with him when he went off to write in the mountains during the country’s civil war. Who says pink can’t be manly?”
•“Canada needs cult wines that are famous outside of Canada. We think of Italy’s Sassicaia, France’s Chateau Margaux and Petrus, Australia’s Penfolds Grange. They’re the $10,000 haute couture dresses on the runway. Few of us can afford them, but we still try to buy a piece of their mystique with overpriced perfume, scarves and handbags. Le Clos Jordanne is positioned to do just that with pinot noir.”
You can read more reviews of my new wine book Unquenchable here.