What do fortune-telling and wine writing have in common? How does wine culture change when women are part of its founding? Should you believe the health claims about clean wines? Are they really better for you? What are the fairy tales we tell about wine?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with wine writer, Felicity Carter who is the Executive Editor at Pix.wine, a global wine discovery platform based in California.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
Join me for the debut Watch Party of the video of this conversation that I’ll be live-streaming for the very first time on Zoom with Part 1 on Wednesday, November 3rd at 7 pm eastern and Part 2 on Wednesday, November 10th at 7 pm eastern.
I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion of what we’re discussing? What takeaways or tips do you love most from this chat? What questions do you have that we didn’t answer?
- How did Felicity’s journey from fortune teller to skeptic show up in her wine career?
- What was the most important lesson Felicity learned in her time as an astrologer?
- How can Pix help to simplify your wine buying process?
- What makes Pix different from other review sites?
- Why was it important to Felicity for Pix and The Drop to be completely independent?
- Which experience first gave Felicity confidence in her ability as a wine writer?
- How did Felicity get exposed by Gordon Ramsay?
- What gruelling assignment did Felicity have to complete for a food magazine?
- What’s Felicity’s involvement in the German Wine Queen competition?
- When did Felicity first feel the power of the press?
- What was it like being editor-in-chief of the prestigious Meiningers magazine for over 12 years?
- Why are wines marketed as gluten-free problematic?
- Are there health benefits offered by dry-farmed wines?
- Should you be concerned about the “goopification” of wine?
- Why are false advertising and fear-mongering in wine marketing so dangerous?
- What’s the problem with the gendered marketing of wine?
- What can wine retailers learn from the adult toy industry?
- Which terms, tropes and tales do we overuse as wine writers?
- Why is Felicity excited about audio for the future of wine communication?
- Is Amazon going to become a big player in the wine world?
- Why do so few women own and operate wineries?
- Why doesn’t the fast-food metaphor work for wine?
- What’s Felicity’s unpopular opinion about sulphur?
- Which grown-up wine would Felicity pair with her favourite dish from childhood?
- What was the weirdest wine pairing Felicity had?
- Who would Felicity love to share a bottle of wine with?
- If Felicity had a billboard in downtown San Francisco, what would it say?
- Which wine does Felicity feel a personal connection with?
- Why would Felicity want bad wine to be served at her funeral?
- The wine industry is long overdue for a shake-up in how we market wine to women, from treating them like cash cows who only enjoy cheap, mommy juice to a diverse group of people who have a range of tastes.
- Wine culture develops in a profoundly different way when women are part of its founding. My hope is that we can plant those seeds in other pockets of the industry, whether that’s new types of wines or ways to appreciate it.
- Felicity hits hard against the marketers who make spurious health claims about clean wines. She’s right that if the wine industry itself doesn’t clean up its act, the government will do it for them, the way they did with big tobacco. It’s a clarion call not to be ignored.
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Going into the digital world was something that I really wanted to explore. - Felicity Carter Click to tweet
The only reason that you would say you’ve got a gluten-free wine is that you’re trying to suggest that everybody else has gluten in their wine. - Felicity Carter Click to tweet
If sections of the wine industry continue to push wine into the wellness space, I think that the industry is going to be called out for it in a very nasty way one day. - Felicity Carter Click to tweet
Whenever you see a section of the wine world treating women really well, it’s often because women were there at the founding. - Felicity Carter Click to tweet
About Felicity Carter
Felicity Carter is the Executive Editor at Pix.wine, a global wine discovery platform. She was previously Editor-in-Chief of Meininger’s Wine Business International magazine. Her work has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Guardian and Decanter, among others. Felicity has a delightfully wide range, having also written about astrology, oil and gas, the funeral industry, and skateboarding for boys. As a romance novel editor, her main editorial note was “this is not physically possible.” Before becoming a journalist, Felicity worked as an advertising copywriter in blue-chip agencies, doing creative work for clients such as Qantas, Adobe, MasterCard and more.
- Connect with Felicity Carter
- The Drop
- Felicity Carter’s Article in The Guardian | I was an astrologer – here’s how it really works, and why I had to stop
- Meiningers Wine Business International
- The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society
- Online Tasting Experiences
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 5: Wine & Health: Benefits, Risks and Surprises with Dr. Edward Miller
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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Thirsty for more?
- Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
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- 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.
Felicity Carter 0:00
I think anywhere that you see a section of the wine world, which is treating women really well, it’s often because women were there at the founding. And so when you look at the popularisation of natural wine, you’re really looking at two women, Alice firing and Isabel as Ron who really helped bring the whole community together, they established it as something where women were welcome. The same thing has happened in Hong Kong with fine wine to women there, Jeannie Cho Lee and Deborah meiburg. were sort of there at the start of the big wine market. And so they established it as a place for women. And in fact, now collectors in Hong Kong are about 50% women, which is not something that you see elsewhere.
Natalie MacLean 0:35
That’s true, because as we know, women buy the majority of wine and other household goods, but it doesn’t mean we only want to drink supermarket wines. There’s a whole range of taste out there, but it does seem to get missed.
Natalie MacLean 0:54
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine, the 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 150. fortune telling and wine writing have in common? How does wine culture change when women are part of its founding? Should you believe the health claims about clean wines? Are they really better for you? And what are the fairy tales we tell ourselves about wine. You’ll get those answers and more wine tips in my chat with Felicity Carter, who is the executive editor at pix wine, a global wine startup based in California. I’d like to get sensitive readers a heads up that today’s episode briefly discusses what wine marketers can learn from the adult toy category. in the show notes, you’ll find a full transcript of our conversation, links to both of my books. Or 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 Natalie maclean.com forward slash 150. Now on a personal note before we dive into the show, just thinking about my first glass of wine in the evening makes me feel better. That’s not surprising. About 10% of our brains receptors are dedicated to liking something such as wine, food and other pleasures 10 times more receptors are dedicated to wanting those things. We’re wired for desire, not satiation. That’s why the pleasure hormone dopamine is released at the thought of having a glass of wine. And not actually while we’re drinking it. That mechanism served us well in the cave days when we always had to be hunting for food to survive. It’s not so great when you’re polishing off that bottle of rosae. The Law of Diminishing Returns is strong with food and drink. That first bite or sip is best. The second it’s almost as good, but we’re already accommodating to the flavours so they don’t light up our dendrites as much as they did on that first taste. Ultimately, I think we’re thirsting for something much more than relief from alcohol. For me, the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection. The connection we formed with those sitting around the table with us we’re sharing that glass of wine. Okay, on with the show.
Natalie MacLean 4:03
Felicity Carter is the executive editor at pics wine, a global wine discovery platform. She was previously editor in chief and minoccurs wine business international magazine for 12 years and Her work has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, the age, The Guardian and decanter, among others, Felicity has I discovered a delightfully wide range of interests. She’s also written about astrology, oil and gas, the funeral industry and skateboarding for boys. As a romance novel editor, her main editorial note was this is not physically possible. I just love that. So good to have you here. Felicity welcome.
Felicity Carter 4:44
It’s great to be here. Natalie. I’m really pleased.
Natalie MacLean 4:47
Terrific. And you’re joining us from Germany. Is that correct?
Felicity Carter 4:50
That’s correct. A little town called noise. undermine Strasser in southwest Germany
Natalie MacLean 4:55
and it sounds wine related to buying something anyway.
Felicity Carter 4:58
It’s the one capital of the Rhineland fault theories region which is known for its reasoning, so we’re right in the heart of one country
Natalie MacLean 5:06
as you should be given what you do. But before we dive into that, I am so fascinated. Tell us about your experience as an astrologer. What did you do for your clients who came to see you?
Felicity Carter 5:17
When I was a teenager, I got very into the new age and I had a flatmate whose father stepfather was a very important astrologer in Australia. So I went off and did astrology courses. And then when I was at university, I saw a job ad for fortune teller. So I took the job. So for some years, every Sunday, I would climb the stairs of a historic house in the rocks in Sydney, and I would print out charts for people. And I would tell them what the astrology said. I left it all behind years and years ago, but in 2019, I wrote a story for The Guardian about being an astrologer and why I gave it up and not believing in it. And I got I did you
Natalie MacLean 5:53
give it up? Just I have to ask, Why did you give that up? There’s a lot
Felicity Carter 5:57
of reasons but I sort of grew out of it. And I got very disillusioned, I was trying very hard to make it work. And the more I tried to make it work for more, it didn’t work. But I was in Hong Kong when the article came out. And the next thing that happened so I went to China The next morning, and there’s a firewall in China, you can’t read your messages. But every so often I would walk into a Western hotel for a tasting and I would get onto the internet, what I was discovering is my phone was melting with abuse from angry astrologers from around the world. Who were who were writing mean things, and completely rejecting everything and saying, I didn’t know anything about astrology, which I have to say I was really miffed by because I knew quite a lot about astrology. So when we started to pick that I was talking with my colleague, Erica about what we can do. I said, Why don’t we do wine horoscopes, it was a long, long range revenge plan, because what I was hoping is that one of the astrologers would finally see the name behind it, and they’d go, here’s this awful person who doesn’t know anything about it, and then I would whip out the charts and go, No, it’s all done properly. But that hasn’t happened. Oh, wow,
Natalie MacLean 6:57
you still need your volume or whatever, you still keep at it. So yeah, I love that on pics. I saw that article. So I’m a Libra. Do you have any predictions for me? Or maybe that’s not even the word to use? I’m not sure. But most importantly, what should I be drinking,
Felicity Carter 7:12
I can tell you with a lot of confidence, Natalie, that in September, and October, things are going to happen. People will come into your life, people will go out of your life, there will be unexpected things. There’ll be things you don’t like very much. And they will be some lovely surprises. That’s what your future holds. And I think you should drink something really nice. And whatever you drink, it will be lovely.
Natalie MacLean 7:32
It’s so definitive. I don’t know how you’re, it’s like you’re reading my mind.
Felicity Carter 7:35
I know it’s a gift, it’s a gift.
Natalie MacLean 7:39
Your time as an astrologer Do you think in any way it helped you improve as a communicator or interpersonal skills, that sort of thing.
Felicity Carter 7:47
It actually taught me one really important thing, which is that we all think that our problems are unique, and nobody will understand them. But the range of human problems in a normal sort of Western environment I’m talking about, but the range of human problems is actually quite narrow. And what I’ve learned from that is that whatever problem you face, dozens of other people have had that same problem. So go and find out how they solved the problem. And your problem will also be solved. And I’ve used that principle in business in publishing and all sorts of things. And it actually works, don’t make your own mistakes, go and find out how somebody else solves the problem.
Natalie MacLean 8:19
Right? That’s so practical. And so you’ve mentioned kicks Now tell us what that is, and what you’re doing with it.
Felicity Carter 8:27
So picks is really exciting kicks is an online platform. And the idea is it’s going to be sort of booking.com of wine. So at the moment, if you’re in the United States, which is where it started, if you want to find a wine, you’ve got something in mind, it’s actually very difficult to find somewhere, you know, how much is it going to cost? People do a whole lot of research about wine, they’ll go to one site to find out where the wine comes from, they’ll get another one to find out the scores or the Critical reaction to it. Or, if they’re very engaged, they’ll go to forums to find out more. And so this is actually just putting it all together in one place. So you can do one search, and you can find out who’s got it, how much it will cost, whether they can ship it to you. And if they can’t, what’s a good substitute?
Natalie MacLean 9:07
And how is that different from some of these sites that have a lot of reviews, some of which do have both crowd sourced or consumer reviews and professional reviews? And some of them have articles too. What do you think differentiates picks?
Felicity Carter 9:21
as bold as this, I’ll say it’s the financial model. So mostly with many other platforms, if you want to participate, either as a user or as a retailer, you have to pay with our platform, there’s no money involved, you can just list and people can search it. And as a consumer, you can use it and it’s not going to cost you anything.
Natalie MacLean 9:38
Wow. So how are you going to make money? Oh,
Felicity Carter 9:41
that’s a there’s a long now chemical process that goes on within the bowels of the business that I’m not completely across. But I’m assured that we’re all going to be extremely rich off the back of this. So
Natalie MacLean 9:53
it sounds like another one of your predictions
Felicity Carter 9:55
is a prediction I’m predicting
Natalie MacLean 9:59
Alright, so The Secret business formula, I don’t know, maybe it has to do with advertising or something, something’s in there, you’re going to make money. So it’s pics like pi x dot wine if people want to find the website, right?
Felicity Carter 10:10
That’s right. And so what we’ve got is we’ve got a magazine attached tortures, the drop, which I’m the Executive Editor of. And actually, it’s an independent publication. So the idea is to get people really interested in wine and wine culture, and that and from that do lots of wine recommendations, which ultimately, they’ll be able to click through, and we’ll go through the search engine, but it’s all completely independent. So nobody, we don’t take any advertising, we don’t take any sponsored posts, and nobody who is using the search engine as a retailer can influence what we do. So everything that we do is actually reliable.
Natalie MacLean 10:40
Well, maybe my imagination is limited, but I will be curious to see where you squeeze money out of that machine.
Felicity Carter 10:47
It’s gonna be huge. It’s gonna be huge, huge,
Natalie MacLean 10:50
okay, great. And you’re going to be drinking really good stuff as a result. So let’s go back to a few more personal stories before we continue along your professional journey here. Tell me about your first professional wine tasting.
Felicity Carter 11:03
Oh, well, so I had started to write for the Melbourne age, and nobody knew who I was. So in Australia, the wine writing fraternity was extremely competitive. And it was quite brutal. Back in those days, it was very male dominated. And a PR Rebecca Hopkins, who’s now a very good friend of mine was working for a South Australian company. And she saw some of my articles. And so she rang up and she said, Look, we’re having a big event. And I think you’re somebody we should get to know. So do you want to come? And I did. And I walked in, and there were only a couple of women in the room and nobody knew who I was. And it was all very intimidating. So the next day, we had this big tasting, and I just decided to stay quiet. So I didn’t say something stupid. But there came a point where not saying anything was making me look stupid. So I thought I better say something that taints the winemaking style at a particular interval. And I said, Oh, you can really taste the chocolate in these wines. And it was one of those horrible, horrible moments, you know, where the person goes through this sell on door and the sound or swings, everyone turns towards the person and you know, and I was like, Oh, I have to say something more. Because otherwise, I mean, so So I said, I think the core of chocolate holds true across all of the winemaking and everyone went, that’s true. Yes. I thought, wow, I can do this. I can be a wine writer. This is great.
Natalie MacLean 12:17
Wow, just say it with conviction and you got buy in much. That’s great. I love it. I’ve been there in there. Felicity, I know what you’re talking about. And then you’ve got to interview Gordon Ramsay How did that come about?
Felicity Carter 12:31
Oh, by then I’ve been doing quite a bit of work for the age. And there’s this mistaken belief that if you know about wine, you must know about food, which I knew nothing about food. But anyway, so I accepted the challenge. And so I rang him from my flat and put him on speakerphone. It was very funny. He’s got a media persona. And he goes into it. And he was extremely funny. But he started talking about his current thing was 30 something women that didn’t have any food in their pantries or fridges that didn’t treat food seriously. And all they had, you know, open up their fridge and all they would have would be a bottle of 70 a block or a bottle of champagne or something. There was nothing else maybe packet of nuts. And that was my fridge more or less. And so my boyfriend was in the room listening to this. He just nearly died laughing He had to roll onto the sofa and stuff a blanket into his mouth and he nearly choked from it because other than the finger is terrible. It’s terrible. Women like that. Just the I agree with you.
Natalie MacLean 13:20
Oh, that’s hilarious. I love that story. It reminds me a little bit of when I interviewed Lu B’s Lacroix and she and I sat there thinking about how terrible wine writers are. All they do is describe wine as fruit salad and we’re both shaking our heads. You know, what can we do about why writers? Nothing, I guess it’s like, anyway, very stern woman. So did Gordon Ramsay let loose with you like he’s known for his colourful language. Oh, he
Felicity Carter 13:46
was very funny. I got the impression that some of it was, you know, at the start of the conversation. He was very polite and very normal. And he sort of basically got into persona a little bit, I think, but also, he’s very passionate about things. And he was very funny. It was one of the best conversations I’ve had. It was great.
Natalie MacLean 14:02
As terrific. Wow. You were writing for a lovely food magazine. What was the assignment, the gruelling assignment.
Felicity Carter 14:10
So my editor from the age went and became editor in chief of a magazine called delicious, which is a very, very significant magazine. And I had moved to Europe. So she said, could I go and do some city guides for them, which sounded fantastic. And so my first one was a Leon, which is very famous for its food. But it was punishing. It was all set up by the magazine. I had to go to 32 restaurants in four days. I mean, I did a lot of research before I went but I’d go into these restaurants I say look, can I just have a little tasting plate or something? And because it was an important magazine, they’d go, Oh, no, no, no. We have prepared to dig a station maybe free. And so I had these eight course meals. And then finally I rang her and distress and I just said I’m really sorry, but this is terrible. I’m gonna have to come back. I can’t do this for four days and she was really unsympathetic. She said, Well, Matt, who’s a very famous critic, she said he can eat six meals a day. So you I had to go back into it. And the other thing is the staff would have it like when you’re from and they know you’re from a big media outlet. If you stop eating from it, they worry that they’re going to get it back, right? So there was one moment where I snapped and I went downstairs and I went to the bathroom and I even remember what it was it was a pigeon breast in a truffle sauce. I was done and I leaned into the bathroom mirror, I said, you can do this, you can do this. So give yourself like an Olympic athlete, like jumped up and down a few times to make the food go down. Voltage, voltage, I went upstairs, I just fell on the bye week later, I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes.
Natalie MacLean 15:42
How we sacrifice for readers.
Felicity Carter 15:45
Then my editor said I’ve got the next city for years. I want that Vienna. Because that’s not like food.
Natalie MacLean 15:54
Oh my gosh, wow. You’re a trooper. Tell us about the German wine Queen, your involvement with her.
Felicity Carter 16:01
So the German wine queen is a very significant event on the wine calendar. In Germany. Whoever is voted the wine Queen will spend a year travelling around the world representing German wine. And it started as a beauty competition. But they’ve made it a lot more serious. It is televised, and whoever it is, is put through a paces. She’s got to do games where she demonstrates she knows about wine and she can speak in public and stuff. And I really wanted to see it so I had been in Germany for a couple of months. And I didn’t have many clothes because I then he arrived with a suitcase. and I both heard that I wanted to go so he gave me his ticket. So I turned up and I went in and I was the only person in jeans everybody else was in like really serious European evening gown. And my seat was down the front and it had this electronic device on it. So I sat down and it turned out that my boss was actually one of the judges of the competition. And by default, I was now judging this really important German won competition. And of course the organisers were absolutely furious and I raced over, and then they discovered I didn’t even speak German, so I wasn’t going to be very good judge. I did my best I did my absolute best. But the people I voted for didn’t get anywhere. So obviously I wasn’t very good. The worst of it was because it was televised is that the camera kept panning over the front few rows. So there was me looking like hideous. Some years went by, and then I got a phone call one day from the German wine Institute. And they said to me, do you know about the German wine Queen, and I thought, oh my god, they finally looked at the reel. And they know it was me that ruins the thing. I was like, What? We’d like to invite you to be the international judge, I’m not in trouble.
Natalie MacLean 17:33
Wow. And what did you wear for that occasion?
Felicity Carter 17:36
points at the hairdresser. I waited about three times to the hairdresser for one event.
Natalie MacLean 17:40
And you got into something, some gown or something, I guess. And then I
Felicity Carter 17:44
went to the makeup department and I’d really made an effort. And the woman said to me, that makeup does not suit you at all. It’s all coming off. And I was like, Okay, what about my hair? My hair? Oh,
Natalie MacLean 17:55
wow. What a transformation? Can you remember the moment that you knew you want it to be a writer whether it was about wine or another area?
Felicity Carter 18:04
Do you know I don’t because I always was even when I was a kid. I mean, your newspapers in Australia, this is money Herald used to have this section for kids. And you could write in and see if you could get a story published. And so from my very earliest memories are trying to write in and get my stories done. And there was a Penguin Books had a magazine that I used to send stories and things too. So there was never a moment where I thought I’m going to be a writer. Well, that’s pretty disappointing answer, isn’t it? But
Natalie MacLean 18:29
it actually is a great answer. It’s from childhood, you were born with the desire to write it sounds like that’s pretty amazing. Do you have any career highlights? writing or wine wise?
Felicity Carter 18:42
Well, I think that the biggest thing that ever happened in my life was so I went and studied postgraduate journalism when I was around the turn of the century. And I was still sort of sending off stories everywhere and never got anywhere. And then I went to do a summer school at Oxford. And I wrote that story. And I sent it to the Sydney Morning Herald and the editor of the travellers who wrote me off and he said, This story is great. And then he said, Do you have any pictures that will go with it, we want to run the story. And so that was like to be a journalism student. And getting to the Sydney Morning Herald was unbelievable. And the great thing was that Oxford found out about it. And so they got a copy of the newspaper, and I pinned it up at Christ Church, which is where Harry Potter was filmed. And they took a picture and they sent it to me and a whole lot of people that year actually signed up for the course because they’d read that Sydney Morning Herald article. And so feeling the power of the press of what you can actually achieve. And then Oxford used to invite me to things which I could never go to because I was in Australia, but that was a really exciting moment. That
Natalie MacLean 19:37
is fantastic. Now you’ve already been very open and vulnerable with these other career moments. Is there. Is there anything else that tops the list in terms of worst career moment or have we covered them all?
Felicity Carter 19:48
I forgot the number of failures. If I was to tell you that number of spectacular failures, we would be here all night. The number of failures is Legion. Things that I was over ambitious about now I couldn’t deliver and you mentioned the funeral in When I was a student, I’d read the book the American way of death by Jessica Mitford, which was very funny, but it was an insight into an industry that was ripping off the grieving. So I thought, Ah, I’m going to go and see if this is true in Australia. And I did the typical thing that students do, which is interview too many people, I think I went to, like 20 funeral homes and learn everything about funerals that there is to learn. And what I learned was that Australian funeral directors are the world’s funniest people. They have this really black gallows humour, their whole brilliant interview, but they weren’t the rip off merchants that I was looking for. But anyway, I’d sold a story to a very prestigious magazine about the funeral industry, and then I couldn’t deliver it because what I was discovering was too different to what I pitched. And so finally, I did lots of rewrites. And finally I got that rewrite done. And I sent it in and the magazine went into receivership, which I hope had nothing to do with my art. But that was taught me a lot.
Natalie MacLean 20:51
Oh my goodness. So now you were telling me if I’m mispronouncing this man angers wine business and mining is mining or mining it? Okay, there we go, which is a really prestigious international wine business magazine for 12 years wasn’t something like that.
Felicity Carter 21:07
Yeah, so it was only meant to be a one year contract. I had always wanted to be a foreign correspondent, and they didn’t think anyone from Britain was. So there’s a there’s a whole thing in Europe going on at the time, about 1214 years ago, where the Europeans understood that globalisation meant pushing into the English speaking world. So there were a whole lot of European films that came out that were hilariously bad with European actors who clearly didn’t understand the English scripts that they were saying, and there was some terrible magazines. But what mining is understood is they understood they needed a native speaker. And so they advertised internationally and I saw it and I was like, Yeah, I work visa to go and live in Europe. That’d be great. Thanks very much. So talk to my boyfriend and was one year anyway. But the next year, they said, Would you like to be editor in chief? And so I was like, Well, yeah, I can stay for another year. And you know, a year turns into another year. And it was interesting, it was really, really interesting. And suddenly, 12 years as fast.
Natalie MacLean 21:57
You described it somewhere as intellectually exciting. Did you compare it to the economist of wine? Like, was it sort of that worldview thing?
Felicity Carter 22:05
Yeah, so I was looking at global markets. And then I ended up visiting for the magazine 22 different markets, which I could never have done as a foreign correspondent. And what I learned, by the way, is don’t parachute into a foreign place and think you’ll understand it. But you know, I remember going to Brussels to interview the EU minister of culture, and really seriously interesting things, as well as the sort of more lighthearted trends, stories, and so on. So it was it was wonderful. Sounds like a great
Natalie MacLean 22:29
mix. So why did you leave and go to pics? Aside from all the money you’re going to make? stuff?
Felicity Carter 22:35
I should not be mysterious about it. The answer is keyword advertising to your question. Okay, gotcha. Well, I knew I knew Paul mabrie, who’s founded it, who I like very much, great guy. Yeah, Eric EGC. He’s the Chief Content Officer is somebody I have a lot of respect for. And you know, it was time for a change. And going into the digital world was something that I really wanted to explore. And so ultimately, the goal is to roll it out to different markets. And that’s why I have some expertise. So hopefully, I can be of some help to them.
Natalie MacLean 23:01
terrific, terrific. The question I do have is, that’s a gargantuan task of trying to be the world’s repository for wine. Because it’s always been a huge problem in the industry, dirty data, if you will, like wrong prices, wrong product availability. I mean, we’ll use sometimes up here in Canada, an American app, and I’ll tell you over 3000 miles to West Virginia to find the line, it’s all over the place. So how are you going to do that? I mean, are you going to have a legion of people entering all this data.
Felicity Carter 23:31
So I have to be really clear that I’m on the magazine side. And we do have a big wall between us in the business. So it all of those things that you’re talking about absolutely true. In fact, when I was at mining, as I reported on that the fact that that’s a terrible problem, because there’s no unique identifier for a bottle of wine. And so that means if you’re going to put your wine into a competition, or to send it to an export market, you’ve got to fill out loads and loads of forms. Every time the world really needs a unique identifiers so that you could just upload the same data, and it would work everywhere. As far as I know, that has been a limiting factor. But I go into the Slack channel. And sometimes through my eyes, I do see what they’re talking about about some of these issues. And it looks like they’re on top of it. So great.
Natalie MacLean 24:08
That would be great. Maybe some non fungible tokens or something, something digital would be great because even barcodes like we have all wines in Canada have to be bar coded. But that still doesn’t differentiate enough from vintage to vintage because usually the barcode will stay the same. So anyway, okay,
Felicity Carter 24:24
that’s right. You actually need two numbers live x and London does this so you need to identify for the wine and then you need an identifier for the vintage.
Natalie MacLean 24:31
Alright. Yeah, I could go down a whole rabbit hole, but I won’t on the data stuff way too geeky. But let’s now turn to some of these other topics you’ve written about which are absolutely fascinating. What is the problem? If any, with marketing wine is gluten free and having health benefits as a result?
Felicity Carter 24:50
Well, the problem is it’s completely bald. That’s the main problem. Why is gluten free The only reason that you would say we’ve got a gluten free wine is because you are trying to do so. They call disparagement marketing, which is you’re trying to suggest that everybody else has gluten in their wine. It’s basically like calling a wine plutonium free. Is that correct? Is your wine plutonium free? Yes. But what you are doing is you are suggesting that other people have plutonium in their wine, which is not correct,
Natalie MacLean 25:15
right? So all wine is gluten free. There’s no impact from barrels or anything that could add gluten like it’s made from grapes. So there you go.
Felicity Carter 25:25
Well, you know, there’s been a question for us about whether the fact that there’s a tiny, tiny, tiny amount of flour paste used at the head of the barrel to seal whether it would be possible for there be gluten in the barrel from that. And I looked at all of the evidence. So the legal limit for gluten is 20 parts per million. And the possibility of a gluten protein getting from that into the barrel would be something like under one part per million. So in theory, you could have gluten in the barrel, but nobody’s detected it.
Natalie MacLean 25:53
Right? Okay. And it probably wouldn’t be, I’m assuming a health risk even to those with no celiac disease, or whatever. Yeah. Okay.
Felicity Carter 26:01
I spoke to one of the world’s experts on celiac disease about this and what it takes to trigger it, and there’s nothing in wine that would do that. Nothing in wine that is conventionally made, there might be some weird person out there that’s busy adding gluten to wine, who knows, you can never predict what strange people will do. But
Natalie MacLean 26:18
you know, that you can we can predict?
Felicity Carter 26:21
Well, I’m on prediction, because there’s no limits towards the weirdness that’s possible in the world. So you could never say there’s no gluten. Why, cuz who knows who’s out there, but you’re pretty safe.
Natalie MacLean 26:31
Sure. Okay. Another one that’s marketed or used in marketing is dry farmed wines, meaning there’s no drip irrigation or irrigation at all. What is problematic about dry farmed wines as a marketing statement, or health benefit?
Felicity Carter 26:45
Well, there’s no health benefit to it. I think the point that they’re making is that if there’s been no irrigation that terroir speaks more strongly than it would be if you’re watering it down. I think that’s something that you can say, and it could have arguments about how much water and so on, but there’s certainly no health benefit to irrigation or no irrigation.
Natalie MacLean 27:03
Okay. Do you see any sort of issue with I think there’s even a company that markets dry farmed wines, I hear about them all the time on different podcasts. Do you see any issues with positioning or using that as a marketing angle? joyful wines
Felicity Carter 27:19
have sometimes made claims that I have had problems with which I’ve written about so they’ve said things like there are GMO ingredients in wine, which is not true.
Natalie MacLean 27:29
Genetically modified GMO yeasts? Yes. Okay.
Felicity Carter 27:33
There were there were there were some on the market some years ago, but there aren’t any more. So even if you wanted to use them, you couldn’t claims like that, or people advertising, not just them, but other people advertising glasses of wine that have cubes of sugar in them and suggesting that there are winemakers who who pour white sugar into wine, which of course is not true. Things like that. Things like that. I find annoying.
Natalie MacLean 27:55
Okay, well, to top the annoying list. Let’s talk about what you call it. I love this term, the goop ification of wine when especially when it comes to clean wines, Cameron Diaz launched a clean wine. There’s others, I’m sure but what’s going on there.
Felicity Carter 28:09
I think this is one of the most disturbing trends that I have seen in all the time that I have been reporting on wine. First of all, you’ve got people who often enter this space who don’t really know very much about winemaking. So they’re making claims which are flat out not true. There’s one company that will give lists of all of the additives that are supposedly in wine without understanding. It’s very easy to to scare people, if you use the chemical names for things. If you weren’t in wine, and you heard the name, polyphenol for the first time you think, oh, scary chemical now, but we’re around it enough that we know it’s actually a great chemical name. And it’s the same with a lot of other things as well. There are things that if you put them by their chemical name, they sound really terrible. And so there’s a lot of people using fear mongering to sell their wines or they’re being flat out wrong. They’re saying that wines have got flavours added to them, or they’ve got dyes, additives and things which are not true, or things which are half truths, which then becomes difficult to explain why it’s a half truth. But why I think this is so dangerous is governments around the world at the moment is quite serious. So the World Health Organisation in particular is becoming very, very anti alcohol. And governments are looking for anything they can do to save money on health. So they’re pushing their populations to healthier behaviours. And one of the easiest pushes is to stop people drinking. And so I think that if sections of the wine industry continue to push wine into the wellness space, I think that the industry is going to be called out for it in a very nasty way one day,
Natalie MacLean 29:35
like big tobacco ones.
Felicity Carter 29:36
That’s right. I mean, one of the things about big tobacco is they weren’t in trouble because it was a toxic poisonous product. They got into trouble because they lied about it. Now I don’t in any way want to compare wine to tobacco, but I can see the day coming when one day the alcohol industry is in front of Congress and they’re saying you did deceptive marketing practices and all they would have to do is pull up some of this wine and wellness stuff, unfortunately to be corrected is a deceptive marketing practice. There are winds now which are being sold as in line with it fits lifestyle. And I see on Instagram people who are doing yoga and wine tastings, and that’s become really popular or they’re putting glasses of wine on their peloton bike or something. And this isn’t healthy in any way, shape, or form to mix these ideas up.
Natalie MacLean 30:22
Yeah. And it’s almost like wine as a means of self care, which is really batty.
Felicity Carter 30:27
Yeah, wine being sold to women as an empowerment rather than as a cultural product to be enjoyed. But as a sort of your life is so lousy that here’s something that will shout out the lousy and that’s a terrible message to send about one, you know why it shouldn’t be about that one should have, it’s great, that you’re not that it has these sort of nice surprising effects.
Natalie MacLean 30:48
Well, then you get into the whole mabi, juice, wine moms, you know, all that sort of thing, which is just a whole lot of Yeah, it has some really strong negative impacts. And I think as you pointed out, the clean wine or the health benefits, I mean, alcohol is a toxin. In moderation, it’s great, but it can’t avoid it. It’s there and the clean or healthy kinds of claims are dangerous. All right. So let’s talk about why marketing to women. You mentioned that, are there other things that you see that are problematic when it comes to marketing wine to women, other than, you know, you deserve it after a day with the kids, the job, the errands, the whatever? Are there other things that you see they’re problematic? I think what
Felicity Carter 31:35
I find so offensive about a lot of agenda marketing is that it’s really bad products, which are being pushed to women, a lot of wine companies, particularly the big commercial companies see women as this kind of cash cow. And instead of taking them seriously as consumers, and I find it astonishing, because if you look at other sectors, particularly cars, which for a long time ignored and patronised women, they have recognised the wealth that professional women are generating, and they’re taking them very, very seriously. But in wine, I’m sorry to say sometimes it’s women marketers doing this as well, sort of treating women as people that you can sell lots and lots of Okay, products to, but there’s not very much opening the door to sort of artisan or interesting products, the natural wine world does that very well, the natural wine or does it extremely well. But in conventional wine less so which I think is a pity.
Natalie MacLean 32:21
Yeah, it is. And just for those who may not be aware of natural lines, I mean, I know there doesn’t seem to be a lot of definition around them, but basically just trying to be low intervention. And I mean, how would you define a natural line, just so we know,
Felicity Carter 32:35
as far as definition is probably the best one, which is nothing added nothing taken away. So just you know, the grapes using the wild yeast that exists ambiently and using that for fermentation? And then sort of what you get at the other end is what you drink?
Natalie MacLean 32:49
Sure. And why do you think natural wines have embraced women or treated them as intelligent consumers? Is it because there are a lot of women writing about it or making these wines are why is that category different?
Felicity Carter 33:02
I think it’s a lot of things. So I think anywhere that you see a section of the wine world, which is treating women really well, it’s often because women were there at the founding. And so when you look at the popularisation of natural wine, you’re really looking at two women, Alice firing and Isabel as Ron who really helped bring the whole community together. And so they established it as something where women were welcome. The same thing has happened in Hong Kong with fine wine to women there, Jeannie Cho Lee and Deborah meiburg, were sort of there at the start of the big wine market. And so they established it as a place for women. And in fact, now collectors in Hong Kong are about 50% women, which is not something that you see elsewhere. How you start is often how you go on.
Natalie MacLean 33:43
That’s true, because as we know, women buy the majority of wine and other household goods, but it doesn’t mean we only want to drink supermarket wines or whatever. I mean, there’s a whole range of taste out there. But yeah, it does seem to get missed.
Felicity Carter 33:56
Well, there’s a woman in Australia called Jane Thompson, who started an event company. It’s called the fabulous ladies wine society, which is a very girly name. But what she did was she aimed at women who were professionals, so women who were lawyers, doctors, bankers, and so on. And she could see that they weren’t being served. So she just had dinners where people that come and in the early days when she’d invite winemakers, they’d bring along Moscato and Rosie and she was like, No, no, no, no, I want you to bring your best wines. And what the winemakers who followed up on that discovered is that women really want high quality products. And they sold and sold and sold when they went to those dinners. And so up until COVID, I think she was booked out from winemakers wanting to participate in those dinners for a very long time. So the opportunity is huge.
Natalie MacLean 34:37
It is it is. Here’s an interesting one, because you’ve written about this, but it just really intrigued me. Still in the marketing realm, but moving a little bit on what can wine learn from the sex toy industry when it comes to retailing? Why
Felicity Carter 34:52
not that much? To be honest, the reason that I wrote that article was because I was introduced to this fantastic person called Sabrina Earnshaw, who works for a company Called Love honey, which is a sex toys company in Britain. And I was dying to find out about how it all works. So she also works in the evening, she loves wine. So she works at a wine retailer. And so I thought, I’ll put a wine spin on this, and I’ll find out how they do things. She’s very articulate. And she did say a couple of interesting things was that in stores that sell those kinds of products, there’s very high levels of kind of fear and anxiety around them. So what the train learned to do was to employ nice middle aged ladies, it lowers the threat level, because nobody’s intimidated. They feel like they can talk about anything. And the other thing that they do is obviously you can’t test the products in store for legal and hygiene reasons. So they have very tactile things, they have a lot of things that you can touch and you can play with. And I didn’t think that would work for wine retail, if you had sort of the shore you you had a carven to play with. Or you had different ways that you could open a quote from bottle, if you could get involved in a tactile way, while you were in the store, it could actually be something that people should think about.
Natalie MacLean 35:55
Wow, that sounds great. Definitely. Because wine is also one of those products you can’t try unless someone’s doing a little sample station. But then it’s probably only a couple of wines from the store. So that’d be innovative.
Felicity Carter 36:06
The big thing that I really wanted to know, how did you test the products that you make? I mean, I always like to start have to test them, is this something that comes up at your performance reviews?
Natalie MacLean 36:16
Everything’s a double loaded term.
Felicity Carter 36:18
Oh, my goodness. These things are tested. And then she said they had a database of people, they send them out to
Natalie MacLean 36:27
volunteer. I could just see off some product pairings now. But anyway, maybe that’s another article for pics or not. So what do you think are the overuse trucks when it does come to writing about wine? Some of them involve women I think you’ve mentioned but really, what are your pet peeves when it comes to those?
Felicity Carter 36:46
I think we tell a lot of fairy tales about wine, the one that annoys me the most and I see it all the time is somebody will go to visit a winemaker in Italy. And some woman who’s never named she doesn’t have a personality she doesn’t exist will bring out pastor to feed people. She’s often a Nonna. Now, it has been pointed out to me that there are in fact pastor bearing nonnas out there. And I know that for a fact I myself have had some pastor prepare by an honour. But what bothers me is that these just cyphers in the story to signify the Italian way of life and family and they never never exist as people in the stories. I think the women in the background of wineries can really get shortchanged. Look, I have a list of things that annoys me. The other thing that annoys me is this is something that whenever I say people get really cross soil in stories, and I strike this out whenever somebody gives me a story, and it says, and it was grown on granitic soil. I was like, what does that mean? Tell me what that means for the wine. And more and more writers go? It’s just important. Why is it important? Tell me why I should care that something’s on clay, soil organic soil, will this make a distant difference to my tasting experience? And if it doesn’t take it out those details which are placed in stories to signal that the writer knows about wine, rather than they advance the story, those things really annoy me, which is to say, I understand that soil is indeed very, very important. It’s just the way it’s talked about in wine stories, obviously, why is it there? What does that do to advance the story? So many things to get across?
Natalie MacLean 38:12
What would you like to see if someone was saying granitic soils that will translate this way into the taste of the wine? Is that what you want to see the connection? Yes, except
Felicity Carter 38:21
it’s actually very hard to make that connection. I think what I would rather is if you’re going to talk about this, there’s a couple of different ways so a radical Adam Nash me once wrote a story for us on I think was Galicia and he talked about the stony soils but the soil actually was a character in the drama because the soil kept people impoverished for a very long time because you couldn’t grow things. And then once people learnt new methods of sort of viticulture, it turned out that these soils were actually sleeping treasure. When they switch from other crops to grapes, they discovered that they could make absolutely fantastic grapes. So this thing which has been sort of a burden and made their lives into a drudgery actually turned out to be treasure and that was a good story about soil. I appreciated that. I’ve done some storytelling workshops and I always say Don’t tell me why you’re passionate about something. Tell me what it means to you. Why do you love this thing? And somebody wants said, Well, actually, I love the dirt because the smell of it reminds me of going out with my grandfather when I was a little boy. Okay, so now Now I understand why the soil is important. But if you just say well, it’s granitic soil. Okay, cool.
Natalie MacLean 39:22
I love that I love that the character and the memories coming back that whatever pristine moment, it’s just that whole emotion smell thing. I mean, that makes a whole lot of sense. Any other tropes? I mean, personally, I see a lot of white verandas, white linens I don’t know it’s just a Ghazi world but in terms of the grime writing tropes, any others that come to mind or have you covered the major ones. The one I see
Felicity Carter 39:47
all the time is the by dynamic trope and it’s the Cinderella trope it always goes like this. I’ve never seen a biodynamic story that doesn’t do this. He goes, somebody inherited a winery or they bought it or that came into their possession and it was dead. It was absolutely dead. There was nothing alive. Have any more the birds didn’t sing, there were no insects, no soil had no worms, it was dead. And then they went biodynamic. And it completely transformed it. And now the place is just singing with life. And I’m sure that’s true. I’m sure there are lots of places that have been rehabilitated. But I’d like a different story. Now, I’d like someone to give me a biodynamic story that maybe gives a nod towards that has some other way into the story, because I’ve read that particular story so much. To be clear, I’m not complaining about people rehabilitating the land, I wish to make that extremely clear. It’s just like, when I start reading the story, I know exactly what’s going to happen. I know that a rehabilitation is going to happen, and the birds are going to seem like to be surprised,
Natalie MacLean 40:38
right? Perfect. We’re on a podcast Now, why are you excited about audio for the future of wind communication.
Felicity Carter 40:46
So several years ago, I was on a media tour. And they were talking about how we’re actually moving back into being an oral culture away from being a literary culture, with the rise of voice. So you know, with Alexa and with Echo, and all of these sorts of things, that more and more things are going to be voice activated. And they also pointed out the rise of the podcast was because of the commute, that you could sit there for 20 minutes, and you could shut everything out. And I think we are rediscovering this very ancient art of oral storytelling, which is actually really exciting. still learning how to do it. This afternoon, I happened to be looking at podcasting research. And the question was now that nobody’s commuting, that they’re all stuck at home, is this still a thing? And what’s happening is yes, podcasts are absolutely growing, except now people listening to the downtime in the afternoon rather than during the commute. So they’re a very powerful way of speaking directly to people. And I think it’s a fantastic medium. It is it’s so intimate. That’s right. And I think because you’re talking directly to somebody and do you think in mind, there’s still lots lots of opportunity. There’s lots and lots of space for people to explore?
Natalie MacLean 41:53
Absolutely. I just think you know, for me, I listened to books, I don’t read them physically. I just love the way it evokes the theatre of the mind. And you have to kind of envision it with the narrator. And the other thing that comes through on a podcast is the narrator’s voice and emotion, which I can’t get off the written word. So I think there’s so many advantages. So with the power of smart speakers like Madame a, I don’t want to activate her here now in the background. But do you think that Amazon could ultimately dominate wine retail, I mean, everyone’s done a madam a in their house somewhere, Not a chance.
Felicity Carter 42:28
I’ve argued about this for a long time, Amazon does a really, really poor job of selling wine, because Amazon’s basically a big warehouse in cyberspace. And so you enter that warehouse, because you’ve got some idea of what you would like you’d like to buy a horse blanket or a wrench or something. And then Amazon comes up with the best selling wrench and or the best time horse blanket and makes a couple of other recommendations, which is paid to do and you buy it. But that’s not how people buy wine. If you go into Amazon, and he says, I’m not really sure what I like I’d like a cabinet 70 on, it’s going to offer you the most mass market Cabernet Sauvignon, because that’s what its algorithms are telling you. It has no ability to allow you to discover something that’s not that the other thing is what we were talking about earlier, which is the way that data is managed, you know, if you put wine keywords into Amazon, you’ll get wine, but you’ll get a hold of other stuff as well. It’s simply not a very good system for discoverability, which is what you need. So I’m sure that they will probably sell lots of mass market wine. But I don’t have any faith long term in Amazon. And people tell me I’m wrong all the time. And yet, people have told me about this for 10 years, and Amazon still haven’t managed to become a big player in wine.
Natalie MacLean 43:37
And that is surprising because they do have a tendency to hone in wherever there is a great business case like insurance or health care or whatever. And they’re great at the long tail. But you’re right, I think mine is still going to be a hand sell.
Felicity Carter 43:50
You also need somebody internally who really knows a lot about wine in order to make it. So they’ve tried private label, they’ve tried bottling their own wines. But you’ve got to have a wine expert to do that. And you’ve got to have a whole supply chain. And then in the end, the margins are really, really low compared to a lot of other things that Amazon is selling. And also people don’t buy wine by just going in and typing. So this is going back to picks. It’s not just that you can type something in find it it’s that picks will actually say well try this and you can join in a whole ecosystem of what wine is about Amazon doesn’t offer you that. And I’m not saying that just because it picks I’m saying that because I’ve been saying it about Amazon for years and years.
Natalie MacLean 44:25
Sure. Yeah, that totally makes sense. And it’s not very scalable to have those personal recommendations. Amazon like scalability, that’s kind of their business model with the mass merge, and they like profits. Yes, they do. Apparently, pics does, too. But anyway, so we
Felicity Carter 44:41
love profit, we’re gonna make a lot of it.
Natalie MacLean 44:45
So apart from centuries of tradition, why do so few women own and operate wineries, even those that are newly founded the ones that keep popping up because there’s so much growth in wineries at least certainly in North America, but I’m sure in a lot of other regions as well, but why do so few women on them? Well, I think it’s because
Felicity Carter 45:04
of something that happens a long time before they get interested in wine, which is what industries do they go into in the first place. So not everybody. This is a generalisation. But in general who goes off and buys a winery, later on in life, it’s people who’ve earned a lot of money in tech or in finance, or sometimes in law or telco and things like that. And those have not traditionally been industries that have been very welcoming for women, women of the generation that would now go out and buy wineries. So that may change in the future. And there’s certainly a lot of couples who jointly own wineries, but land ownership is still very low among women. And it will take a long time for that to change.
Natalie MacLean 45:39
Hmm. And you know, one of the changes that is happening is that the baby boomers are retiring. And for the first time they’re passing on their winery’s to their daughters, not necessarily their sons, what change is that going to make, I guess, you know, there’ll be more feminine perspective. But
Felicity Carter 45:57
it’s a really an extraordinary phenomenon that I don’t see discussed. And this isn’t just happening in wine, by the way across Europe. So France, Italy, and Germany, anywhere from 80% to 98% of people are employed in family businesses in the big economies of this continent. And all of those businesses are being passed on now. And many of them are being passed to daughters. So we’re going to see a very female dominated at the top economy in the near future. Now, what does that mean? This is a very interesting question. I’ve read a lot of research about female management style, and so on, which always seems terribly sexist to me, but typically been based on North American CEOs and how you behave when you’re an employee may have nothing to do with how you behave when you actually own it. So I can’t make any predictions about what is going to happen. It’s a very interesting phenomenon.
Natalie MacLean 46:43
Yeah, it is, it will be interesting to see what happens there. And yet, at the same time, I think you’ve cautioned that just because all of these women are inheriting their wineries, that’s not a cause for celebration.
Felicity Carter 46:56
So somebody having rich parents that’s left them land is not in and of itself a cause for celebration. You know, one of the things in wine is we can be over dazzled by sort of rich people quite often, or people who’ve just inherited something. And so we’ve already seen some evidence, especially in Italy, of women who’ve inherited wineries who do really fantastic things with them. In those cases, I think those are women to be celebrated. But the fact of somebody inheriting something is not in and of itself, something to be celebrated. It’s what they do with it once they’ve got it. Yeah, which I think will be very interesting. I was talking to a woman here in Germany, and she studied in geisenheim in the 90s. And her uncle said to her, a woman will be in my winery Over my dead body. And you know what? He died and she got the winery. So right.
Natalie MacLean 47:43
There’s poetic justice or whatever, long term,
Felicity Carter 47:46
and she’s a really good winemaker. She’s a fantastic wine maker.
Natalie MacLean 47:49
That is fantastic. Oh, wow. One more that I thought was really interesting. Why don’t you think the fast foods metaphor works when it comes to wine? So Michael Pollan has written Omnivore’s Dilemma among other books, talks about, you know, going to the source and following through and why fast food is ruining food? Uh, why doesn’t that work for wine? Do you think? Oh, so
Felicity Carter 48:11
a lot of people like to use this metaphor of artisinal wine. And then there’s like junk wine is there’s being mass market wine stuff. And I find this files as a metaphor for the simple reason that the wine industry is not structured the same way as the food industry. So if you look at and again, it’s a very North American perspective, because the food industry in Europe is not structured this way either. But what Michael Pollan specifically was talking about was these very, very sort of big agriculture, these very big conglomerates and very big corporations that have vast fields of corn and soy and are using the excess to sort of spin into very strange and unhealthy products. And then contrasting that you have these very small farmers that are sort of making heritage things and vegetables and so on. Now, that model doesn’t work for wine, because although you do have big companies in wine, you have some really big companies, but some of the biggest companies are actually family owned companies. We have very few shareholder driven corporations. And most of those, the ones that we did have in the last 20 years have failed, folded whatever. That model doesn’t work very well for wine, but as well as the small artisanal and the big family companies. We have a whole other range of things. We have medium size things we have negotiate winemaking, we’ve got cooperative winemaking we’ve got all different sizes and models. So it just simply doesn’t fit into that food model.
Natalie MacLean 49:27
And sounds like a good thing then more diversity and different sizes of businesses.
Felicity Carter 49:31
Also, you often find sort of hybrid winemaking where you might find somebody that is making a big cash cow product that might be a mass market product. And then they’re using the money from that to make a really high end artisanal handmade product as well. So wine is actually a very, very, very diverse area. And I think sometimes that diversity doesn’t get the full recognition it deserves.
Natalie MacLean 49:53
That’s great. All right. So quick answers lightning round. I love this conversation, but I want to hear your answers to these rather than cut this off even though it’s been a terrific discussion, what is something that you believe about wine which some people might strongly disagree? We’ve covered some of that, but is there anything else?
Felicity Carter 50:11
I think sulfus Okay, I think sofas okay by me,
Natalie MacLean 50:15
right? And why do you think that and what do people say? Why would they disagree with you?
Felicity Carter 50:21
Well, as you know, some people think that sulphur is the devil Stein, which actually, you know, historically it was considered, I guess, but that sulphur completely kills off the expression of the grape and it’s just a terrible thing and you should get rid of it. And it’s like the grapes speak for itself. Whereas I think a certain amount of preservation and judicious use of sulphur to keep bacteria and things at bay is definitely fine by me. I’m happy to drink wine, it’s had sulphur added to it or have sulphur treatment.
Natalie MacLean 50:45
So it preserves stabilises the bottle from spoilage or whatever. Okay, cool. What is a favourite childhood food you’ve had and what would you pair with it now as an adult?
Felicity Carter 50:56
What my mum when she was younger, used to live in Penang in Malaysia, and so she had this beef curry recipe that she would make which was my favourite and it took me a long time I grew up to realise it wasn’t very Malaysian what she was making. But that was my favourite thing. And I would just drink it with a nice white wine. Probably a shibley or something.
Natalie MacLean 51:12
beef curry with a Shipley. That’s interesting. Well, I’m talking about my
Felicity Carter 51:15
mom’s beef curry. So it would go very well with the actual beef. Malaysian curry wouldn’t but my mom’s would.
Natalie MacLean 51:25
Okay, cool. It Have you ever had a very weird wine and food pairing?
Felicity Carter 51:30
Yes, we just won we did a lot. 20 years ago, which was in a hot Australian sunshine out the back with a salad was something you’d have is really big alcoholic tanning. Sure. As I look back at that, and I think why, why did we do that? But we did that quite a lot. I don’t recommend it. Don’t
Natalie MacLean 51:45
do it. No. It’s terrible hearing about it. What’s the most useful wine gadget you’ve ever come across? This one? You’ve got it? Oh, the corkscrew? That classic corkscrew. Alright, I should have known I should have ruled that out? Yes. Okay. It is very the waiters corkscrew. Yeah. And if you could share a bottle of wine with anybody in the world living or dead? Who would that be?
Felicity Carter 52:09
Christopher Hitchens. I would talk about Afghanistan, Iraq. And I would say how do you feel about this? Can I call you Chris? And then after we got those, so how do you feel about this? Chris? How do you feel about this? Now? I think that would be a very interesting conversation. Oh, wow.
Natalie MacLean 52:21
What bottle would you open? Oh, God. Well,
Felicity Carter 52:25
depends who’s paying? am I paying? Or is this being provided? Or is this being provided by whoever puts us together at dinner? This is a key question. That’s right.
Natalie MacLean 52:34
If yes, okay, well, you’re both in a war torn country. So maybe it’s whatever’s at the bar, I guess. I don’t know what else. And if you could put a billboard in downtown San Francisco, what would it say?
Felicity Carter 52:47
It’s gonna say you’re probably Okay, stop worrying.
Natalie MacLean 52:51
Have a glass of wine maybe.
Felicity Carter 52:54
That’s always to say to people, when I was being an astrologer, I said, Look, it’s going to be fine. It’s going to be okay. Like, I really, Can you promise that? I can’t promise it, but it will probably be okay. It’s great.
Natalie MacLean 53:05
If you could be aligned, which one would it be? Well, the one that I’m really
Felicity Carter 53:08
really in love with at the moment is I’m really in love with German sparkling wine. So I would be the aldinger Brut nathula, which is not exported, but it is extremely wonderful, sparkling wine, and I would be it because it’s rare, and people would talk about it.
Natalie MacLean 53:25
And which one would be served at your funeral?
Felicity Carter 53:28
The worst possible one so that everyone would miss me a lot and say she would never have served as the wine like that. It’s whatever’s hideous. That’s what’s gonna be so don’t want to enrol. So they miss me.
Natalie MacLean 53:38
I love that. I love that. Oh, I must change my will. What’s the most interesting question you’ve been asked?
Felicity Carter 53:46
Oh, so many questions. I tell you what am I tell you the most embarrassing question I’ve been asked? How about that? I was at a big conference and I was talking about storytelling and crafting and stuff like that, and I was kind of pontificating, like I do and handing out advice. And then somebody said to me, what’s the best story that you’ve ever been told? And you know what? I couldn’t think of a single one I said on stage being films going.
Natalie MacLean 54:11
Storytelling conference. Yeah, that’s really yeah, that’s cool. There you go. And is there anything we haven’t covered Felicity that you’d like to mention?
Felicity Carter 54:25
No. I think we’ve covered it all. I think she’d go me Inside Out you’ve stripped my soul You know my
Natalie MacLean 54:32
wonderful I love how you’ve as I said been so open with us and how can people get in touch with you online?
Felicity Carter 54:38
twitter twitter is good just DM me or you can write to me at Felicity at pics dot wine there you
Natalie MacLean 54:44
go and the website of course is pics dot line pics dot wine. That’s right. This has been wonderful Felicity absolute delight, my favourite interview yet, honestly, and I don’t say that every time so there you go. So thank you so much
Felicity Carter 54:58
for the recording. That’s got to go in there. Recording, right? No cutting that out.
Natalie MacLean 55:03
No, no, that’s staying in. We’re still recording. But thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
Felicity Carter 55:09
It’s been fantastic to talk to you. And by the way, just get in touch with me if anyone’s got a great story to tell or a great pitch, just get in touch.
Natalie MacLean 55:17
Great at Felicity at pics dot wine. There you go. All right, let’s see, I look forward to when we can get together and have a glass or three perhaps in person. Great. All right. Bye for now.
Natalie MacLean 55:35
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our chat with Felicity Carter. Here are my takeaways. Number one, the wine industry is long overdue for a shake up on how we market wine to women from treating them like cash cows who only enjoy cheap mommy juice to a diverse group of people who have a range of tastes to wine culture develops in a profoundly different way when women are part of its founding. My hope is that we can plant those seeds in other pockets of the industry, whether it’s with new types of wines, or the ways in which we appreciate it. And three, Felicity hits hard against marketers who may experience health claims about clean wines. She’s right, that if the wine industry doesn’t clean up its Act, the government will do it for them the way they did with big tobacco. It’s a clarion call, not to be ignored. In the shownotes, you’ll find a full transcript of our conversation, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class. Links to the books and where you can find me on zoom, Insta, Facebook and YouTube Live video every Wednesday at seven. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie maclean.com forward slash one by zero. You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Rachel cygnar, a wine writer originally from Virginia now living in South Australia. She’s written for numerous publications including the Guardian, Vogue and eater. She’s also the publisher and founder of keep that magazine an independent publication about natural wines sold in over 20 countries. She makes natural wines with her husband in the Adelaide Hills under the labels Lucy M. And per Stephanie wines. The Fabulous memoir You had me at pet that has just been published by Hachette books. And she joins us from our home in Australia. In the meantime, if you missed Episode Five, go back and take a listen. I chat with Dr. Edward Miller about wine and health benefits, the risks and the surprises. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Unknown Speaker 57:40
We’ve suspected the relationship between alcohol and breast cancer for quite a while and then kind of the big study came out in the British Medical Journal that said, even an Alcohol Beverage a day increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer. So there was understandably a lot of concern going on. There were concerns about that study, though, because the same group had previously reported that alcohol consumption adds years to people’s lives reduces cardiovascular disease. And more legit and more interesting thing to your audience is one they didn’t break it down by type of alcohol in the study at all until they said please go back and do that. And when they did this same study show that when people drank three or more spirit beverages a day, the women had a 26% increase in their risk of breast cancer. And when they had three lines or more a day, there was no increased risk of breast cancer.
Natalie MacLean 58:42
If you like this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who be interested in the issues we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I have something great it’s in your class this week. Perhaps a wine that you like, naturally.
Natalie MacLean 59:06
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 Natalie MacLean comm forward slash subscribe. You’ll be here next week. Cheers