What is it about wine that makes it part of many TV shows and movies? How does approaching wine through food make it so much more accessible? What adventures did I go on as a part of writing my books? Why are origin stories so important when it comes to wine? What’s one rule of thumb you can use to find great value wines that taste expensive?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m sharing my interview on the All About Wine podcast with Ron Hunt.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
- What is it about wine that makes it so popular in the media and pop culture?
- Why does Ron say my mobile wine app is a must-have for your phone?
- How did Unreserved Wine Talk end up on a list of top podcasts of 2020?
- How do I select guests for Unreserved Wine Talk?
- Why are origin stories so important?
- Why does approaching wine through food make it so much more accessible?
- How can you benefit from online wine classes?
- What do wine lovers want more of as we go through this pandemic?
- Why should you experiment with wine?
- What type of journey can you share through reading Red, White, and Drunk All Over?
- How did I approach writing Unquenchable to help readers with the process of buying wine?
- What’s one rule of thumb you can use to find value wines that taste expensive?
- Why did I start my book’s adventures at Domaine Romanée-Conti?
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Wine connects art, literature, commerce and agriculture. It’s in everything. You can make wine the centre of your universe. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
That’s why I often have a lot of writers… because they’re great storytellers and I think that’s how we learn. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
Bringing in people through the world of food makes wine so much more accessible. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
In my classes, I love those worldwide connections. We all sort of meet at this virtual kitchen table and talk about wine. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
Everybody who’s into wine is always looking for that wine that you say I only paid this much for this, but it tastes like it’s that much. - Ron Hunt Click to tweet
About All About Wine and Ron Hunt
All About Wine is a weekly call-in talk show dedicated to the wine industry that’s been on the air since 2009. Host Ron Hunt brings his experience and knowledge as a winemaker, cellar master, and vineyardist and tasting expert to the airwaves with special guests from around the world. Always informative and entertaining…it’s All About Wine.
- Connect with Ron Hunt and All About Wine
- Michael Browne’s Book | Pinot Rocks: A Winding Journey through Intense Elegance
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 122: Wine, the White House & Presidential Pours with Washington Post Publisher, Fred Ryan Part 1
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 123: Wine, Politics and Diplomatic Entertaining with Washington Post Publisher, Fred Ryan – Part 2
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 80: What’s the Rosé Lifestyle? Wine Writer Jill Barth on Why You’d Enjoy It
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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- You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
- The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.
Ron Hunt 0:00
How does the class come together?
Natalie Maclean 0:02
The course is called the Wine Smart Course; A Full-Bodied Framework to Taste, Pair and Buy Wine like a Pro. The people who take my course range from beginners to those who’ve taken professional courses because they really want to bone up on the food and wine pairing aspect, which is not often a part of the professional designations; they tend to focus on regions and geography and history, and we definitely touch on that. But our big focus is on the pairings, which I think is so much more fun. The course itself is a mix of live online tastings; but they’re all recorded, so you can always watch them later. There’s workbooks and little quizzes, but you can go to your own pace, and I give everyone lifetime access to the course.
Ron Hunt 0:54
Natalie MacLean 0:56
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? That’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here! Now pass me that bottle please and let’s get started.
Welcome to Episode 128. What is it about wine that makes it part of so many television shows and movies? Or maybe I’m just selectively noticing that? How does approaching wine through food make it so much more accessible? What adventures did I go on in writing my books? Why are origin stories so important when it comes to wine? And what’s one rule of thumb you can use to find great value wines that taste twice as expensive as they cost? Well, I have answers for you in this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. We’re turning the tables and Ron Hunt, host of the terrific All About Wine podcast is interviewing me. Ron is a winemaker, cellarmaster vineyardist and tasting expert and I loved chatting with him about my experiences in the wine industry. In the show notes you’ll find a full transcript of our conversation, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find me on Zoom, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Live video every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/128.
Now on a personal note before we dive into the show, I have a confession to make. I love Yacht Rock Radio. It’s the Sirius XM channel dedicated to soft rock music from the 1980s. You know them all; Michael Bolton, Christopher Cross, Hall and Oates. And I can’t help but laugh every time I hear the overly cool dude describe the channel as featuring men with feathered hair who play smooth sailing tunes that won’t rock the boat.
Natalie MacLean 3:37
I just want that dude to pass me a joint, even though I don’t smoke, as we stretch out on the dock on a sunny afternoon. The music and the dude make me chillax. Some wines do that for me as well, especially Pinot Noir. It’s so smooth and medium bodied. Could Pinot Noir be the Yacht Rock of wine? Or is that an insult to a wine that I find as complex as classical Baroque? I guess I really shouldn’t worry about this and just chill. Okay on with the show.
Unknown Speaker 4:17
Blog Talk Radio..
Mike Becker 4:24
This is All About Wine, the talk show dedicated to the wine industry since 2009 featuring winemaker, cellarmaster, vineyardist and tasting expert, Ron.
Unknown Speaker 4:37
Basically what we’re trying to do in this programme is just trying to educate people on trying to make wine less confusing and more friendly, from coast to coast and around the world. You know, we really have had some big people on the programme; I love that. Post your questions and comments during the live show on our Facebook firstname.lastname@example.org/allaboutwinebtr. Again that’s www.facebook.com/allaboutwinebtr. And now All About Wine is on. Here’s Ron.
Ron Hunt 5:20
Here we are; another exciting week on All About Wine. Welcome to the show. It is Thursday; Feb 28. You’re right. And welcome to the show. Mike and I were just talking, we have to talk about this for a little bit because it’s the only place in the country that is this warm right now, it is up to 85 degrees today here. And so AC time and we can take off our parkas and all that finally, but speaking of parkas, we’re just talking about how cold it is from where our guest is and oh my gosh, you know it’s 17 degrees there now, so yeah, Fahrenheit. So Brr, Brr. Speaking of guests; she’s been patiently waiting; she’s called Natalie MacLean. Let me read you all this about her. Let me tell you; this woman has really got quite a resumé here. I was quite impressed when I first saw the New York Times selected her podcast and she has a podcast, Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, and New York Times selected it as one of the seven best drinks podcast in 2020.
Ron Hunt 6:45
Apple featured it as one of the best listens of 2019. This podcast is available on Apple Podcasts formerly iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM, iHeartRadio, Google podcast, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Audible and other podcast apps on iPhone and Android devices. Almost like All About Wine; we’re available on quite a bit of stuff too. But we just don’t know it. We don’t know we’re on some of those; they just take and put us on those but we are. And her guests have included writers for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Forbes, Globe and Mail, San Francisco Chronicle and other publications, including Karen McNeil, Esther Mobley, Bianca Bosker, I believe Pete Hellman, Marnie Old, Mark Oldman, and others, actually, you might not as listeners recognise a lot of those names, but those are people in the wine business. These are writers and people in the wine business, I recognise all of them I, you know, quoted them to you and some of the things I’ve talked about over the years and stuff like that. So these are quite a lot of the Who’s Who of wine writing and wine blogs and stuff. And so they’ve all been guests, and Natalie herself, has the largest wine review site based in Canada with over 3.2 million visitors a year, and a wine newsletter with 270,000 subscribers, largest network of writers and bloggers in Canada, the only national mobile apps with real time store stock inventory, barcode reader and optical front label scanner. Now, Natalie, that’s a question; we need to find out if that’s available throughout North America or just in Canada, and about Natalie herself. Natalie MacLean, her first book; Red, White and Drunk all Over : A Wine Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass, and her second book, Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines, were both selected as one of Amazon’s best books of the year. She’s the wine expert on CTV, that’s Canadian TV, the Social, Canada’s largest daytime television show, CTV News and Global Televisions Morning Show. She was named the world’s best drinks writer at the World Food Media Awards and has won four, not one, not two, not three, but four James Beard Foundation journalism awards. She is the only person to have won both the M.F.K. Fisher distinguished writing award from the James Beard Foundation and the M.F.K. Fisher award for excellence in culinary writing from, now I’m going to destroy this name, Les Dames d’Escoffier International. Natalie also studied the Romantic Poets at Oxford University with Jonathan Wordsworth, she graduated with honours from the Masters of Business Administration at University of Western Ontario. Before joining the wine world, she worked at Procter and Gamble in brand management and then at the supercomputer company, SGI in Mountain View, California; now the headquarters of Google. And with all those great accolades and everything, she is humble enough to come on All About Wine and talk with us. Welcome to the show.
Unknown Speaker 10:36
Hey, Ron, it’s great to be here with you.
Ron Hunt 10:41
I’m glad you took out the time tonight to visit with us. I was really looking forward.
Natalie MacLean 10:45
Absolutely. I’ve been listening to your show too. And I just love to talk radio nuance to it. I think you do a great job. Well,
Ron Hunt 10:52
Well, thank you very much. We enjoy it. Mike and I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now. And it’s something we’ve really, really enjoyed doing; look forward to every week, although we do have our glitches, like anything with electronics, but it’s something we do enjoy. So thank you. Thank you for listening to it. So, quite a resume there; you’ve been busy since, what? You were about three years old doing all this stuff?.
Natalie MacLean 11:17
I started drinking early.
Ron Hunt 11:20
Natalie MacLean 11:22
I actually came to wine quite late in life, well, relatively speaking I guess. I came from a good Scottish family on the East Coast, Nova Scotia. And it was beer and whiskey on the table, not wine. And so it wasn’t actually until my late 20s that I got into wine but boy, did I make up for lost time, with the drinking. I mean,
Ron Hunt 11:38
Yeah, it’s funny, because we’ve talked to some of our guests over the last three or four months. And a lot of them seem to be getting into wine later in life. I don’t know what it is. But I started back when I was in my mid 20s, early 20s. But a lot of the people are starting later. And it seems to be something that once you start later in life, it just grabs you. And you just say, Wow, how did I miss this this long. So
Natalie MacLean 12:06
Absolutely, it really woke me up to just how much wine is connected to everything. I mean, you and I and a lot of us here are biased towards that. But I just think you know, it connects art and literature and commerce and agriculture. I mean, it’s just everything you can make wine the centre of your universe.
Ron Hunt 12:22
And they do I mean, guilty pleasure. I’m right now, I am going through the entire library of the Game of Thrones. And if there is one underlying theme, it’s wine. I mean, that’s all they’re doing, is drinking wine in the whole thing. But it’s just another aspect of it, just using TV shows and stuff like that a lot, too. It’s acceptable. And I think that’s one of the reasons why they do it on TV shows more than anything, except for Mad Men of course, then its cocktails.
Natalie Maclean 12:59
Those were the whisky days I guess, the hard drinking days. But I watch a lot of shows like The Good Wife and others. I mean, wine is just a necessary prop it seems forr every nighttime scene going.
Ron Hunt 13:10
It seems to be you know, and it’s so successful. What did I tell you, I wanted to ask you about when we were going through stuff here.
Natalie Maclean 13:14
Oh the mobile app.
Ron Hunt 13:18
Yes, is it national, just in Canada, or is that North America or
Natalie MacLean 13:23
You can go download it wherever you are. The mobile apps for Android and iPhone, iPad, are available wherever you live around the world. You can access my scores and tasting notes and you know, you can keep a virtual cellar in there. And the unique thing about it is that it has a front label reader but it also will read back barcodes. They’re two different scanners, two different technologies that work together. So it’s a better chance of finding the wine that you’re looking for.
Ron Hunt 13:54
Fantastic. Oh, that’s one of those apps that is almost a necessity to have on your phone. Hear that people? Get that loaded onto your phone. That is a great way to go out and do stuff. With the app, can you make notes with it and ..
Natalie MacLean 14:09
It has like a virtual cellar so you can make notes and you can just scan the label or scan the barcode and add it like with a click to your virtual cellars you’re not typing in the whole wine name and all of that. And then if I’ve reviewed it, my tasting notes will be part of your cellar entries so that you know, you have more information, and food pairing, so it sort of all works together.
Ron Hunt 14:31
And if you find one you like you can do it that way and refer back to it? Fantastic There you go. If everyone out there listening to this does not download that, then you know you’re missing. Definitely missing out on something on that. What is it called the app store?
Natalie MacClean 14:47
It’s under my name. So folks search on Natalie MacLean. So if you search on that, that’s my website too. So you can find it that way through my website, or you can just search on the app stores
Unknown Speaker 15:05
Or Nataliemaclean.com/mobileapp. And that’s right, that’ll do it right there for you. It really does cover all the bases on that. And then your website has reviews too of wine. And now those are just wine reviews that is listed on there.
Unknown Speaker 15:24
Yes. So I mean, I’ve been writing about wine and tasting and reviewing for almost 20 years now. So, there are a lot of reviews. And I invite others to post their reviews of wines as well. I have a team of bloggers who contribute. So there are a lot of professional and consumer reviews on it so that you get multiple opinions.
Ron Hunt 15:43
Well, over a period of years as probably quite a library there of different information.
Natalie MacLean 15:50
There’s more than 300,000 reviews, wine reviews. Yeah.
Ron Hunt 15:57
It’s more than just an easy weekend reading. I’ll tell you that. Oh, okay. Oh, there’s just so much. I have so many questions here. And I have to share with people out there, Natalie knew I didn’t get a chance to read her books. And so she sent me a list of questions on it, which is really great. I will be using some of those, by the way, if I don’t cover it otherwise. But there’s a lot of other stuff I want to talk about here. And that is the New York Times has named you one of the seven best drinks podcast for 2020. Does that include wine, or spirits and beer or…
Natalie MacLean 16:39
Right, they do a regular feature on the seven best podcasts in a variety of categories, whether it’s movies, or books, or whatever. So for drinks, I had three wine podcasts, and then the other four were like cocktails, spirits, beer, mixed drinks, that sort of thing. And surprised the heck out of me. I just was like one day woke up, there was a Google Alert in my inbox because of course I set up alerts. And it was like, Holy smokes. I didn’t even know they were looking at it or whatever. It was just it was made my year actually
Ron Hunt 17:14
Yeah well, I have to brag a little bit here too. All About Wine was named one of the top six in Wine Spectator magazine in 2020, for wine podcasts to listen to
Natalie MacLean 17:26
Congratulations, very prestigious, absolutely, well deserved!
Ron Hunt 17:30
Well, thank you, we were as shocked as you just said you were. It was like, Oh my gosh, you know. And then there was another list that was composed of the 25 best ones to listen to, wasn’t composed by Wine Spectator, I don’t know who it was that put it together. But we were number 12 on that list. You know, it’s, it’s always nice to be recognised. I mean, you know, and I’m sure you, you agree with that. It’s always nice to know that people out there reading you and you’re getting recognised by,
Natalie MacLean 18:04
Honestly, because I think if we do podcasts, I mean, I know with Unreserved Wine Talk, my desire is to help and communicate. And so well, these you know, the lists, and the recognition is nice, what gets me so excited is that I think, Oh God, I get to connect with more people, because they’ll find out about it now. Discovery is kind of challenging, you know, unless you get recommended by a friend, you know, your podcast, or in one of these lists. But I just get excited from that perspective.
Ron Hunt 18:32
Exactly. As do I. I think that being on those lists to get people say, Oh, look, maybe you know, and then I’ve been contacted by some people, I’m sure because of those lists, which is a good thing. Speaking of being in contact with people, how do you get your guests? For a while I was calling wineries and stuff and getting wineries as guests; that’s always a fall back. I can always get a hold of wineries because wineries love to talk about their wines and what they do and all that. But you’ve talked to a lot of people here that, when like I said before the show, in the business, writers and bloggers and all that. How do you get your guests? Call them up? Say hey, I’m having a show? You going to be on with me?
Natalie MacLean 19:17
Yeah, mostly it’s cold calling or cold emailing. But first and foremost, Ron, I’m looking for great storytellers. Which is why I’ve invited you to be on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast as well, as you know. But that is what I’m looking for, because that’s what people want. You know, I agree with you, winemakers love to talk about their wine, but unless they can tell a great story, and we can learn from it, I don’t care about how tight the weave of the oak is, or you know, when you pick between the raindrops. I want to be taken someplace in my mind, I want you to paint me a picture, and tell me a story. And that’s why I often have a lot of writers, you know, who’ve just published books, or have a great column, or who have a great show like you do because you’re great storytellers and I think that’s how we learn.
Ron Hunt 20:02
I really fully understand and agree with that too. Because whenever I talk to wineries, always ask them about how they start and stuff like that. They love to tell the beginnings, the how it all came about, to where they are now. And that’s really one of my favourite parts of it. I do ask about them about other things of note to add colour, but that humble beginnings is always a fun part, in any of those stories,
Natalie MacLean 20:28
And because people can identify that, we all came from somewhere, we all had humble beginnings and we all had to start from scratch. And there are a lot of people as you know, Ron, who probably imagine or dream of a career in wine, whether it’s making wine or writing about it, or whatever. And so it’s sort of this sort of aspirational thing that because a lot of people have a passion or it’s a hobby, wine is a hobby, they think, what if I got paid to do this full time? How cool would that be? So I’m sure they love the origin stories
Ron Hunt 20:55
Yes, yeah. Origin stories are always always interesting, too. Before I forget, you sent me an email that said that you would like to offer all the listeners your Ultimate Guide to Food and Wine Pairing. And, well, I’ll let you tell them about it instead of me doing it. So
Natalie MacLean 21:18
Oh, sure. So yeah, it’s a handy sort of guide template to the major categories of food, the major categories of wine. And it’s sort of a reference for when you’re looking for great pairings. You know, you know what you’re having for dinner, food wise, but you’re thinking, What am I going to do with wine? Or conversely, mostly, the way I start, I’ve got the wine now, what am I going to eat. And so I put together this guide for your listeners, and they can get it, download it for free at Nataliemaclean.com/allaboutwine. So Nataliemaclean.com/allaboutwine
Ron Hunt 21:55
Simple as that people, there you go, you got yourself, your own personal guide for food and wine pairings. That’s pretty cool. Thank you. Thank you for offering that to listeners. I appreciate that. We’ve had some authors that have been on the show lately, doing some simple books and stuff like that. And I like the simplicity of that stuff, too. Because most people out there, as you probably discovered, most people aren’t as learned in the whole field of wine as just a handful are. So the simplicity of information, I think is a key. And everyone I’ve talked to on this show has agreed that that is really the only approach
Natalie MacLean 22:39
It is. And I think we’re far less intimidated by food. Like you look at a roast chicken, and you don’t worry that you know, you haven’t consulted that chickens vintage chart. But we’re uptight when it comes to wine, you know, because there’s so many more choices, and we can’t try before you buy, usually at least not legally. So I think bringing in people through the world of food, it makes it so much more accessible. And that’s why I really, really focus on food and wine pairing like with this guide, and with the online courses I teach, I just think it can connect with people so much more easily.
Ron Hunt 23:13
Yeah, and it’s a very good approach to it. You’re absolutely right. Speaking of online courses, you do online courses, would you tell us about that?
Natalie MacLean 23:24
Sure. So I come from a long line of English teachers, so teachings in my blood, and I taught Highland dancing for years to little kids. And that’s how I got through university. But teaching now, online, these wine and food pairing courses, is just I think I’ve arrived home in that I just love it. I love the connection. And I love what technology has been able to do for us with reaching new people and bringing them together this way. And I think, you know, I mean, there’s not been a lot of great things related to COVID. But one positive is that people have gotten over the mental block that you can’t take a wine course online, what are you going to do, like, text me the wine, but you can. There are so many advantages to it, like, you can be in your pyjamas. And you don’t have to get a babysitter for the kids. You don’t have to driv,e you don’t have to commit even to a certain day, because a lot of the classes can be recorded if you miss one. And so I love that. And that in my classes I have lots of people from the US and Canada mainly. But you know, there’s someone from the Netherlands, there’s someone taking the class over breakfast in Sydney, Australia. And I just love those, those worldwide connections. Then we all sort of meet at this virtual kitchen table and talk about wine.
Ron Hunt 24:47
And you do like pairings? Do you cook while you’re doing it and explain to people or how does the class come together? What is the basis of it?
Unknown Speaker 24:58
Sure. So the course name, the main course, is called The Wine Smart course; A Full Body Framework to Taste, Pair and Buy Wine like a Pro. And that’s on my website at Nataliemaclean.com. And so we sort of go from step to step, we want to first learn how to taste wine. But we really focus in on the pairing. So the people who take my course, they range from beginners to those actually who know a lot about wine, even those who’ve taken other professional courses, because they really want to bone up on the food and wine pairing aspect, which is not often a large part of some of the professional designations; they tend to focus on regions and geography and history. And we definitely touch on that. But our big focus is on the pairings, which I just think is so much more fun. So the course itself is a mix of live online tastings. But they’re all recorded. So you can always watch them later. And then there’s pre- recorded videos, there’s workbooks and little quizzes, and you can go at your own pace, and I give everyone lifetime access to the course.
Ron Hunt 26:07
Wow, fantastic. Yeah. You say during COVID, has COVID changed your? Well, obviously, it has, but I mean, has it changed your approach to your writing?
Natalie MacLean 26:20
Yeah, I’m trying to respond to what people want to learn now. And I think a lot of folks who have not been able to go to restaurants, or to travel to wine regions, are looking to really elevate their wine and food experience at home. So a lot of what I’m writing about is how to have like a little informal wine tasting, maybe just you and your partner. So you know, it’s not fancy, or, you know, pairing wine with comfort food, or unusual pairings, or you know, even pairing wines with your latest Netflix binge show. But it’s a lot of home based kind of what can you do at home with wine that would be fun and get you out of maybe if you feel you’re in a rut, wine wise, or that sort of thing? Yeah, that’s kind of my focus lately.
Ron Hunt 27:07
Yeah, it’s not to say COVID has changed. But well, the tasting world and all that stuff has changed. But I think with the virtual tastings, which I love, it’s just a wonderful approach of virtual tasting. I think people can still enjoy just as much as before. I have to come to the food. This is something and my listeners know, I’ve mentioned food, how great wine can enhance food and how great food can enhance wine. And I think it’s always been a question in the back of people’s minds and even mine, you know, there’s just timeframes. And what’s fun to go with this. And you start thinking of the possibilities, but a lot of times and I don’t know if you agree with me or not, but a lot of times what can go with it is limited to the individual’s history of tasting the wines that they’ve tasted. And if you open it up to Walmart, your site there, you’re saying, Okay, try this and this with it. It could enhance that food even more so than what you might imagine. So, to be able to get other people’s perspective, and again, even your perspective is limited to what you’ve experienced.
Natalie MacLean 28:27
Exactly, a good example for me was learning that okay, if you’ve got a steak and it’s been nicely caramelized on the outside, why don’t you try a buttery oak aged Chardonnay? You would think Cabernet, got to go to Cabernet, but caramelization and the steak and the oak ageing in the Chardonnay just tasted divine together; it was like Wow! and they both have equal weight. It was full bodied, the wine was full bodied, so is the steak obviously. But yeah, getting out of those comfort zones and just experimenting. That’s the fun of it.
Ron Hunt 29:01
Yeah, without question that is, and I’m constantly telling people you know, food and wine, those are the great things; get yourself different pairings, experiment with different ones if nothing else. You know, try something new. That’s a great idea. Good oaky Chardonnay with a nice caramelized sirloin or something that’s very good. So again, if you are interested in we’ll have Natalie give it to you again or you can just go to her website, everything’s on her website; nataliemaclean.com. Now, your books, you have two books out; your first book is Red, White and Drunk all Over; was subtitled A Wine Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. Okay, is this from the beginning? This is what a grape looks like on the grapevine to Ooh, do you taste that aftertaste? Is that basically what this is?
Natalie MacLean 30:00
That’s sort of, but that would be a metaphor for the life experience, because it’s unusual, because I took the day in the life approach. George Plimpton did it, who played football and wrote about it. It’s kind of the New School of Journalism where you did the thing, to have a better and deeper experience in order to write about it, not from the outside, but from the inside. And so that’s what I did in Red, White and Drunk all Over. So I actually helped work at the harvest. That was with Randall Grahm in California. Crazy genius. And I worked as a sommelier. I worked in a wine stores. So it was like, each chapter was a different aspect of wine where I did the thing I wrote about,
Ron Hunt 30:44
Oh, well, that sounds like a good book. You said you worked as a sommelier; Do you have your sommelier certification?
Natalie Maclean 30:53
Yeah, I do. I took a diploma programme here in Canada. But it was just for kicks at night. I wasn’t even thinking, Oh, I’ll write about this. It just drew me in, as you said at near the beginning of our conversation, just once like I glommed on to wine I was like, I need to learn everything I can about this. And so I went through that. And yeah, of course, working as a sommelier is a quite a different thing, like being out on the floor, and I chose to turn up the burner underneath my feet. And we’re at a four diamond restaurant. And it was like, Oh, my gosh, I was just mostly trying to look like a shrub that no one would notice in the corner. But
Ron Hunt 31:34
Where’s the sommelier? Where is she? Really? So the book, basically each chapter of it, is a different aspect of it until,
Unknown Speaker 31:47
Yes, exactly. So we start off with how is wine made, but instead of sort of dictionary definition, I go and help them with their harvest with, you know, Randall Grahm and I talked about you know what it’s like, but through those stories, you learn about wine. It’s like when my mother used to put the peas in the mashed potatoes, loved those mashed potatoes. And she’d sneak in those vegetables. So the learning is snuck in there through the storytelling, and you still come out the other end having learned but it was a tasty adventure along the way.
Ron Hunt 32:19
It sounds like, sounds like a fun book. And then you enjoyed writing that so much. You wrote your second book, Unquenchable; Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain wines.
Ron Hunt 32:33
A completely different approach than the first one; sounds like it anyway.
Natalie MacLean 32:42
Yeah, this one was travel based. So I would go to a different wine region where I thought there would be great wine values. So Argentina for Malbec and Australia for Shiraz. And it was still adventure based in that I did some sort of crazy things to bring out the learning in the stories about what is value and how do we get smarter about wine. Like in South Africa, I was shark diving and doing all sorts of milking goats, all kinds of crazy things. But there was a purpose to it always. And you would come away with you know, some more tips in terms of what am I looking for in the liquor store? When I don’t have a specific bottle recommendation? How can I be smarter about buying wine? Because ultimately, that book is about finding wines that taste twice as expensive as they cost.
Unknown Speaker 33:31
Yeah, if you can find it, it’s a great deal. And I think that’s the search for everybody who’s into wine, is always looking for that. Wine as you say, I only paid this much for this but it tastes like
Natalie MacLean 33:41
Yes, it’s like the hunt. It’s like why those designer outlet stores are so popular. It’s just easy money; dumb money can buy Versace at full price but if you can get that designer jacket at 10% of its original price, well then you’re a smart shopper and I think there’s this thrill of the hunt is there in wine. And one tip I’ll just share with you because I think a lot of people like this one in particular; Go South. So a lot of badge cachet regions in wine countries are North so you think Bordeaux, Burgundy expensive, so go south to the Languedoc or Provence or even the Rhône Valley, is going to be less expensive. Napa Valley, Sonoma pricier than Paso Robles on average Tuscany, Piedmont; go south to Sicily, Apulia, you’re going to get some great deals that way. So go South and that’s very true.
Unknown Speaker 34:40
And that’s very true, I mean, if you think of the big names and all of them are north and it doesn’t mean that you can’t find bargains, it’s just a little bit harder to do it and you can find bargains immediately going south on there. Your book, you started out with Domaine Romanée-Conti. Why start there? Was that the first stop in your adventures? Or is there a reason for starting there?
Natalie Maclean 35:07
Yeah, that was part of the first book. And it was a terrific experience because Burgundy often is the holy grail for Pinot Noir lovers. The self described pathological optimists who make Pinot Noir. Like you’re crazy because it’s so difficult to work with the heartbreak grape as you know. So, but I visited Aubert de Villaine, who makes Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which you know, can go for hundreds of dollars or often 1000s of dollars per bottle. Like especially if you’re trying to chase down something at auction. I wanted to start with the benchmark and find out what is the gold standard when it comes to this coveted wine. It was an extraordinary experience going around with him. It was in the winter. And you know, he’s doing cane pruning to get ready for spring. But he was just so open and generous with his time. He doesn’t have a tasting room that’s open to the public. So I really felt honoured and we went down to his library cellar and he made me turn around and he pulled out a bottle and then he made me guess the vintage; It was like we’re here with a corkscrew. You know, when people say, Wow, how did you get into see Aubert de Villaine and these other people? And I always say, you know what, it’s not me. It’s who I bring with me. And those are the readers. It’s who I represent. Who were the listeners on the podcast to the readers of the book or the visitors the website? That’s the real power the who’s who are the people who are coming with me virtually.
Ron Hunt 36:48
Which answers a good question. How do you get all these different people to interview and all that and my mind was going out and thinking of, you know, how we get guests and stuff like that. And it’s usually not a problem of finding guests. You know, you say, I do this, I do that? Would you like to be on the show? And like we said at the beginning, people in the wine industry love to talk about wine.
Natalie MacLean 37:15
Yeah, if someone has a new book to promote, they’re usually quite keen. And that’s a great time to interview them because the book is still fresh in their mind. And they have some great stories to tell. So I’m usually monitoring who’s got a new book out, you know, just published a book. That is a great source for getting guests.
Unknown Speaker 37:34
Well, in fact, we had a guest on about a month ago now whose book was being released that week. In fact, he surprised us. We didn’t know it was being released just within the next few days. And he mentioned it during the show that it was coming out in a few days. Michael Browne and Pinot Rocks.
Natalie Maclean 37:58
Yeah, he makes Pinot Noir, he’s a winemaker, right.
Ron Hunt 38:01
Yeah. His book, Pinot Rocks was just coming out a few days after we interviewed, which was really cool, because he said that it was on audio books and William Shatner actually read his book.
Natalie Maclean 38:12
Yeah; that is amazing. I am such a William Shatner fan
Ron Hunt 38:20
Oh my gosh! William Shatner!
Natalie MacLean 38:24
I think William Shatner had this sort of brown bag wine tasting thing on YouTube or somewhere where he drives people and get them to taste wine. So he’s a wine guy. I saw that somewhere. It’s a while back, but I just thought, Oh my gosh, there’s Captain Kirk.
Ron Hunt 38:40
Really, that’s perfect. I never I never knew that. The Tampa Bay Rays manager, now he’s out in California now for the Angels. Oh, I could kick myself, I just I can’t remember his name. But he was really into wine a lot. And I contacted the Rays office and all that and, you know, told him, you know, he wouldn’t be interested. And I got so mad at them. I yell at them; so how do you know he’s not gonna be interested He’s into wine. You know, but they never connected us.It just irritated me so much that they didn’t give him a chance.
Natalie MacLean 39:19
I get it. Yeah. Well, you know, here’s a guest that I’m going to have in a couple of weeks time. And he’s the publisher of The Washington Post. And oh, why the heck would he want to even talk to me? Because he just came out with a book called Wine and the White House. We’re going to talk about the politics and wine. When someone has a book to promote
Ron Hunt 39:39
There you go. The politics of wine. I mean, all sorts of taxes and levies and fees and all that, that’s being kicked around and everything now that should be a very timely interview there. So
Natalie MacLean 39:52
yeah, and he’s got all kinds of stories about past presidents and the things they did you know, in serving wine at diplomatic dinners. So again, I’m just looking for those stories that are colourful
Oh yeah, that should be very interesting; give people something else that tune in and to listen to.
Natalie MacLean 40:14
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Ron Hunt. In the shownotes you’ll find a link to the full transcript of our conversation, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find me on Zoom, Insta, Facebook and YouTube live on video every Wednesday at 7pm including this evening. That’s all in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/128. You won’t want to miss next week when I’ll continue my conversation with Ron Hunt. In the meantime, if you missed Episode 80 go back and take a listen. We’re heading into prime Rosé wine season and I chat with Jill Barth about what is the allure of wines from Provence. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Jill Barth 41:05
There is a preference for pale Rosé. I think that that’s the consumers idea that it embodies freshness and lightness. There also seems to be misconception that it’s going to be sweeter if it’s darker. And that’s not true at all. I’ve heard people I’m sharing wine with and they’ll see a dark rose and they’ll think oh I don’t like sweet wines. But it’s to do with the varieties of the grape and how long that juice has any amount of skin contact
Natalie MacLean 41:32
That makes total sense.
Jill Barth 41:34
People just seem to like the light ones these days for I think reasons of aesthetics, not necessarily that influences the flavour as much as you might think.
Natalie MacLean 41:41
Sure. And is there anything to the fact that if it’s a darker Rosé it’s going to be more full body? Did it get more skin contact, therefore more flavour? Or is that to a generalisation that doesn’t always play out.
Jill Barth 41:54
It probably doesn’t always play out, but it would hold true that darker skinned grapes that experience more skin contact during the winemaking are going to impart more of that colour.
Natalie MacLean 42:09
If you like this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the tips that I shared. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a crisp, refreshing Rosé as you sit back and listen to your Yacht radio. Alright.
Natalie MacLean 42:41
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Nataliemaclean.com/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.