How did Cameron Diaz’s new clean wine brand cause an uproar in the wine world? Where does wine fit into the wellness world? Which low alcohol and alcohol-free wines are worth trying? Should wine labels have ingredient lists?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Devin Parr, Founder and Managing Partner of Devin Parr & Associates.
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 on Wednesday, April 28th at 7 pm eastern.
You can save your spot for free right here. I’ll be jumping into the comments as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.
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?
You can also win one of two tickets to an exclusive virtual wine tasting led by Devin Parr that also includes two bottles of premium California wines that’ll be shipped directly to your home.
These tickets are priced at $135 each and enable up to 6 participants per household to participate. We’ll be giving away two tickets, one to each of two different winners.
How to Win
All you need to do is comment on one of these posts before 7 pm EDT on May 5th:
I’ll select the winner randomly from those who participate. You get a bonus entry for every wine-loving friend you tag and if you re-share this post in your stories.
- How did a wine sales call end with Devin being mistaken for an FBI agent?
- Why did an embarrassing conversation with a customer renew Devin’s interest in geography?
- Why should you be fearless when tasting and talking about wine?
- What incredible experiences did Devin have while studying wine in Italy?
- How did Bill Buford inspire Devin to move to Italy?
- What is clean wine?
- How did Cameron Diaz’s wine brand cause an uproar in the wine world?
- How has the wine industry unwittingly given marketers an advantage?
- Where does wine fit into the wellness world?
- Which low alcohol and alcohol-free wines are worth trying?
- Should wine labels have ingredient lists?
- Why is the traditional wine industry so resistant to non-expert consumer opinions?
- I enjoyed Devin’s take on clean wine, and why Cameron Diaz’s new brand caused such an uproar in the wine world. I think a definition would help, but that’s probably difficult to do given how the definitions of organic and biodynamic wines differ so greatly.
- I think wine can fit with wellness and a balanced life, without becoming a gimmicky or misguided marketing tactic that positions it as some sort of health drink.
- I’m going to search for the low alcohol and alcohol-free wines that Devin thinks are worth trying.
- I think wines should be more transparent about ingredients, using a QR code on the label that can be scanned to more details on the winery’s website so that this can change from year to year and not become so burdensome on the winery with packaging changes every vintage.
Start The Conversation: Click Below to Share These Wine Tips
I was taking a couple of wine classes on the side and I fell in love with the stories and the traditions and the sense of history and ritual. - Devin Parr Click to tweet
There is no formal definition of clean wine. I think a lot of the wine world uses it as a marketing term. - Devin Parr Click to tweet
There has traditionally been this protectiveness of the old guard of wine and I think there’s a place for that but there’s also a place for consumers who just want to drink the stuff and love the pretty label. - Devin Parr Click to tweet
Wine is alcohol at the end of the day so we don’t want to position it as healthful. But I think there is something to talk about how wine can be incorporated into a healthy or wellness-driven lifestyle. - Devin Parr Click to tweet
I think there’s a frustration from more traditional old-school wine enthusiasts like, “I’ve spent all this time learning this, why don’t you make the effort to learn it?” - Devin Parr Click to tweet
About Devin Parr
Devin Parr is the Founder and Managing Partner of Devin Parr & Associates, a PR, marketing and content agency for the beverage, travel, and tourism space. She holds a level 3 WSET certificate and in 2017, was named one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers. She’s written for Bottlenotes, WineCountry.com, NapaValley.com, Sonoma.com, The Plum, The Gourmet Insider, and others, including her own popular blog. Devin earned her B.A. in Political Science and Economics at UC San Diego and she joins us now from her home in Southern California.
- Connect with Devin Parr
- Bill Buford’s Book | Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French cooking
- Bill Buford’s book | Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
Join me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Live Video
Want to know when we go live?
Add this to your calendar:
Tag Me on Social
Tag me on social media if you enjoyed the episode:
- @nataliemaclean and @natdecants on Facebook
- @nataliemaclean on Twitter
- @nataliemacleanwine on Instagram
- @nataliemaclean on LinkedIn
- Email Me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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!)
- 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.
Devin Parr 0:00
So I was giving this tasting class, everyone was really shy. And finally one girl just says, You know what, it smells like my Grandma’s Cadillac, and we all kind of laughed. But then we dug into it. It was a red wine; it had notes of cherry, and she’s like, Oh my god, she had this gross cherry air freshener and there were leather seats, like old leather seats, so it had that leathery note. She smoked cigarettes, so there was the smoky note. It’s such a great encouragement, when we taste wines, to not get so in our heads about saying what we smell and taste and it was a reminder to just blurt it out. What do you smell here?
Natalie MacLean 0:34
Amen. I love that. I often relate the story, very similar, to someone in one of my own classes saying this smells like the Dallas airport. It’s like Riesling, jet fuel, a little bit of that petrol smell you can sometimes get on mature Rieslings,
Devin Parr 0:49
Natalie MacLean 0:57
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? Well, 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 126. How did Cameron Diaz’s new clean wine brand cause an uproar in the wine world? Where does wine fit into the wellness space? Which low alcohol wines are worth trying? And should wine labels have ingredient lists? Our guest this week has those answers for you, plus lots of great wine tasting tips and stories.
I’ve got a bonus for you in addition to this podcast. I’d love for you to join me for the première watch party of the video of this conversation that I’ll be live streaming for the very first time on Zoom, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube tonight at 7pm. Eastern. I’ll include a link where you can sign up for the Zoom tasting for free in the show notes. The video will show you the pictures and other visual elements that we discuss in the podcast. I’ll also be jumping into the comments section on all four platforms as we watch it together so I can answer your questions in real time. It’s like the Netflix version of the podcast. Plus, you can talk to me and ask me questions. You can also see what other people thought of this conversation and answers to their questions.
I want to let you know that you can win one of two tickets to an exclusive virtual wine tasting led by our guest, that also includes two bottles of premium California wines that will be shipped directly to your home. These tickets are priced at $135 each and enable up to six participants per household to participate. We’ll be giving away two tickets, one to each of two different winners. All you have to do is comment on the social media post I created about the contest. Just pick your favourite platform, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and comment on my post before 7pm May 5. In the show notes you’ll find a link to these posts, the full transcript of our conversation and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class, where you can find me on Zoom, Insta, Facebook and YouTube Live video every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at NataliemacLean.com/126.
Now on a personal note before we dive into the show, the other night I was blasting Helen Reddys’ song “I am Woman” on my bedroom Alexa. My mother’s strength during her divorce inspired me during my own. The song has since become an anthem for me as I write my memoir. However, the song kept stopping and changing to hard rock. After this happened about four times and I’d used my impatient mother’s voice with Alexa, I wandered into the living room. Miles was just around the corner laughing; he’d been telling Alexa to change the song each time. I burst out laughing because we’re always playing pranks on each other. Now I just have to think of what to pull on him next. Perhaps I should substitute his favourite Rhône Syrah with some cooking wine. Anyway, if you’ve got ideas, let me know. Okay on with the show!
Natalie MacLean 5:02
Devin Parr is the Founder and Managing Partner of Devin Parr and Associates, a PR, marketing and content agency for the beverage travel and tourism space. And she holds a level three WSET certificate and is working on her diploma. And in 2017, the Wine Enthusiast magazine named her one of the top 40 under 40 tastemakers. She’s written for all kinds of publications and websites like Bottlenotes, WineCountry.com, NapaValley.com, Gourmet Insider, and others including her own very popular blog. Devin earned her BA in political science and economics from the University of California at San Diego. And she joins us now from her home in Southern California. Hello, Devin.
Devin Parr 5:50
Hello, hello. For the record the top 40 under 40 was a while ago. So top 40 over 40 now,
Natalie MacLean 5:59
okay, well, you’re not into the top 100 over 100. So you’ve got a ways to go.
Devin Parr 6:04
The next category, right?
Natalie MacLean 6:06
Exactly! Let’s really open it up. You’ve got so many great stories, and I love the topics that you’re passionate about. They’re a passion of mine, too. We’re going to dive into those. But first, I wanted to ask you about the time when you were mistaken for an FBI agent.
Devin Parr 6:23
Oh my gosh, it’s kind of like a dream scenario for me thinks of herself as like, you know, a badass. But so I had just started my career in wine in New York City. And I was working for an Italian distributor and wholesaler; I won’t name them. But I was doing sales. And I was
Natalie MacLean 6:43
Is that because they’re now in witness protection?
Unknown Speaker 6:47
I’m not trying to out anybody.So I had just started. And if anyone has ever done wine sales, in particular, for an Italian company, in New York City, it is hardcore. And it is just very, very humbling. I think I was maybe 28, you know I’m a very petite blonde and I was learning the ropes. This was my first sales gig and first wine sales gig. And I had a manager who was very Italian.
And he was sort of training me and taking me out on all of his sales calls. And one day, he finally said to me, You know what, you’re ready, you’re going to run this sales call, it’s time for you to sort of fly on your own. And he drove a Vespa, of course, so I would ride on the back of his Vespa with him, with the big helmet on. And knowing this was happening today, you know, I dressed in like, all black, and I had big motorcycle boots on up over my knees, you know, a big black coat with military style. And so we walk into this ultra, ultra, Italian, like old school Italian restaurant in Manhattan. And I was ready, my heart was pounding. I was like, I was going to do this. So I walk in with like, all this attitude. And in my best Italian introduce myself. And, you know, say what I’m there for, say I’m taking over the account. And I walked up to basically a big table, you know, all the staff having their family meal, at like 4pm before service, and it was the owner and the manager and the wine director and they’re all very Italian. And they just looked at me and listen to my spiel and it was dead silence like they’re all looking at each other like oh my god, and I was like, did I terrify them? Do I get what I want? Finally, the owner looks at me. He goes “Shit!”. I thought she was FBI. I scared them.
Natalie MacLean 8:36
Right? So I assume you got the account. They were just going to cooperate. I love that
Devin Parr 8:40
Like no, I’m just here to sell you wine
Natalie MacLean 8:43
That’s right, relax, relax. And so you have another story. You used to work as a wine director at a Manhattan, New York City wine store, where you were referring to a French region incorrectly. How do you explain that?
Devin Parr 8:58
This is like so embarrassing.
Natalie MacLean 9:00
I love to start with embarrassing,
Devin Parr 9:03
Right? So you know, it’s like I’d studied wine in Italy for two years, like I’ve gotten certifications. And I ran a wine store in New York City. And I was always selling this one wine, it was a Vin de Savoie, just delicious, crisp, clean. Like I think of it as like the Evian of wines, just delicious. Quaffable, clean, light white wine. I mean, I sold this wine to everybody because I loved it so much personally. So every time someone was looking for like a great white wine, I was grabbing this bottle and I was trying to explain it every time. And I was like, it’s from this region in the very northern most point of France, on the border of Switzerland. And I said that to like 300 people or so, like I was always pitching this as this northern France wine, on the border of Switzerland. And then finally, one day someone looked at me like, you know, that’s not actually where Switzerland is. And I was like, Yeah, but you know, like, up there. It’s northern. It’s On the border, and I’m just sort of gesturing like, Oh my god, I looked at a map. No, Switzerland is not at the northernmost part France, it’s to the east. And so I just thought, you know, it’s still light and crisp and acidic and it’s got to be from the northern part of somewhere and embarrassing!
Natalie MacLean 10:19
Obviously something that you’d crack open when you’re in the Alps or the Andes there. Yeah, they’re all the same thing.
Devin Parr 10:25
Yes, humbling, humbling,
Natalie MacLean 10:30
Humbling and very grounded for you to admit. Yes, we like that. And then one time you were leading a wine class, and someone described a wine as smelling like her grandmother’s Cadillac.
Devin Parr 10:38
Yes. So I actually love this story. And I use it all the time when I’m coaching people on how to be fearless when tasting wine and talking about aromas. So I was giving this tasting class, everyone was really shy. And finally one girl just says, You know what, it smells like my Grandma’s Cadillac, and we all kind of laughed. But then we dug into it. It was a red wine; it had notes of cherry, and she’s like, Oh my god, she had this gross cherry air freshener and there were leather seats, like old leather seats, so it had that leathery note. She smoked cigarettes, so there was the smoky note. It’s such a great encouragement, when we taste wines, to not get so in our heads about saying what we smell and taste and it was a reminder to just blurt it out. What do you smell here? And, you know, if we dig deeper, we can actually get to the bottom of what that means in the wine.
Natalie MacLean 11:36
Amen, I love that. I often relate the story, very similar to someone in one of my own classes saying this smells like the Dallas airport. And it’s like Riesling, jet fuel, maybe a little bit of a petrol smell, you can sometimes get on mature Rieslings. Another woman said this is like my sons’ gerbil cage, it was the woodchips so you know, the oak aging.
Devin Parr 12:03
I love that, or maybe the poop, you never know
Natalie MacLean 12:05
That’s true, a bit of barnyard, gerbil barnyard, a very specific type of barnyard. Let’s get right down to it. So do you have any other memorable moments; either high or low from your wine career so far? Those are great stories. Does anything else pop up as a highlight or lowlight?
Devin Parr 12:24
Oh my gosh. So as I mentioned, yeah, I got my first wine education in Italy. I lived there for about two years in Florence after a career in video game PR. Yeah, I read a book by Bill Buford, I highly recommend it
Natalie MacLean 12:39
I love him. He’s got a new biography out; Dirt. Heat is the other one.
Devin Parr 12:42
Yeah, that’s the one I read.
Natalie MacLean 12:46
Yeah, where he’s baking, I guess in Italy, is it?
Devin Parr 12:48
Yes. So it paints this like incredible picture of a culinary life in Italy. And I was like, I want that. So I quit my job in PR and I moved to Italy, where I studied culinary arts and wine. And I started primarily in the culinary programme, at a School of Hospitality in Florence. I was taking a couple of wine classes on the side. And I fell in love with the stories and the traditions and the sense of history and the sense of ritual and it just felt more cerebral to me in a weird way.
So I switched fully over to the wine programme, but I got to do some really incredible things in wine that I feel like now, when I look back on it, like I was so incredibly lucky to go taste hundreds of Brunello, like when they’re released, in a row, and I had this amazing tasting experience at Castello di Fonterutoli in Tuscany, and they did a tasting of, I think it was like six different Sangiovese taken from the same vineyard, but like different parts of the vineyard. And they put them next to each other. And you could taste like profound differences, just in these tiny microclimate differences. It was really eye opening for me. And I think of it as like the “Ah Hah” moment of wine, like this is terroir. This is the study of wine. This is really getting granular and looking at differences just based on a tiny bit of exposure difference or a difference in soil over here. It was incredible.
Natalie MacLean 14:16
Oh, that sounds amazing.
Devin Parr 14:18
Plus, I had a million experiences of you know, choking on my wine when trying to aerate it in my mouth.
Natalie MacLean 14:24
That can be not so great, especially if it comes out of your nose.
Devin Parr 14:30
Not perfecting the spit bucket technique. It splashes back in your face.
Natalie MacLean 14:36
That’s that Sideways movie moment, but he’s deliberately, whatever, doing that with the spit bucket. But yeah, I’ve had that happen, too. But yeah, you’ll have to look for Bill Buford’s newest novel, it just came out. It’s called Dirt
Devin Parr 14:48
I’m definitely going to check it out, because I love to eat. That book changed my life. Really. It literally changed my life
Natalie MacLean 14:52
Absolutely. And I love his approach of doing what you’re writing about. So he doesn’t just observe or interview. He actually gets his hands into the dough and I think it provides richer insights that way and better writing
Devin Parr 15:06
One hundred percent! And you know his story about the restaurant in Chianti, called Solociccia. That’s Dario Cecchini’s restaurant. He’s a butcher there and Buford becomes a butcher apprentice, and I’ve been to that restaurant, it really is exactly how he paints it, an incredible experience. So yeah, he got like elbow deep in some meat carcasses.
Natalie MacLean 15:31
Awesome. So let’s dig into some of these articles you’ve written because I find the topics are just fascinating; they’re timely, they’re thought provoking. So I’m going to read a great quote from one of your articles. You said, you’d think that some White Claw drinking influencer had just come out with a Hitler themed wine brand, given the number of hate pieces published after movie star Cameron Diaz and her friend Catherine Power launched their own clean wine brand. So first of all, what is clean wine? And then let’s get to why it’s causing such an uproar, at least in the wine industry.
Devin Parr 16:07
Sure. So yes, my stories are a little; sometimes they earn me enemies. I like to kind of poke the bear a little bit. So clean wine, kind of like natural wine. It’s nebulous. Like, what does that even mean? And there is no formal definition. Clean wine; I think a lot of the wine world use it as a marketing term. But at its core, what people use it to describe is a wine that is free from unnecessary additives. So in the wine world, of course, in winemaking, you can use I think up to like there’s like seventy, sixty to seventy different ingredients that are legally allowed to be added to wine to either perfect it, change flaws, enhance it, add sweetness, add colour, acid, and many of these are naturally derived anyway, many of them are precipitated out, you know, they’re put in there to take something out and they’re removed, and they’re not in the final product. But there have been this cohort of winemakers and wine companies who’ve decided to grab on to this clean term and use it to describe their wines to say they don’t have, you know, Mega Purple in them. They’re just grapes
Natalie MacLean 17:14
What’s Mega Purple for those who might be curious?
Devin Parr 17:18
Oh my gosh, it’s like ultra concentrated grape juice that adds colour and some sort of roundness and sweetness, if I’m getting that correctly, and I’m not a winemaker.
Natalie MacLean 17:29
Okay, so it’s not a colour dye. It’s natural.
Devin Parr 17:31
It’s natural. Yeah. From like, it’s like grape juice on steroids; like super sweet and syrupy and purple. And like as it sounds. So yes, so clean wine is, in theory, a wine that’s free from all these things, and it’s just fermented grape juice. So what happened is there are these companies like, you know, Scout and Cellar, or I think it’s Dry Farm wines, or
Natalie MacLean 17:55
These all wine clubs that you can order directly from them, right?
Devin Parr 17:59
Right. And Cameron Diaz’s brand, Catherine Powers brand Avaline. So they latched on to this concept. And they launched these brands saying, Hey, we didn’t know all this stuff that was in our wines here in these wine brands. The wine world got up in arms about it saying, “There’s generations and generations of winemakers who’ve been making wine in this exact same way, with no added this and you know, organic or biodynamic, even or natural to take it a step further. So you know, this is already a thing.” And now this celebrity comes in and says, “We’re making clean wines and everybody else’s wine is dirty, I guess, by implication.” And yeah, so there was this huge uproar, and I thought, you know what, like, “This is so frustrating, because if the rest of the wine world had been producing wines in this manner, why weren’t they banging this gong?” You know, why weren’t they shouting it from the rooftops? And they’re mad that a few smart marketers decided to say it. And if this is what consumers want, give it to them.
Natalie MacLean 18:59
Exactly. And there was one article, it was called the Goopification of Wine, in the Telegraph, whatever I think in the UK, comparing it to Gwyneth Paltrow, and how many people have gone after her for taking various potions and everything else and claiming, I don’t know, maybe it’s not a great direct analogy, in terms of medical or scientific benefits, but the Goopification of Wines is a little harsh, I think. But so why don’t you think the wine industry has not told consumers this is what’s in your wine or what’s not in your wine; hasn’t beat that drum?
Devin Parr 19:37
If I had an answer to that I’d be a rich lady. Or at least like, you know, a much more influential wine personality. But I think there is this hesitation, this resistance, this stubbornness, to look at what consumers want, and to sort of give it to them. If the wine industry had come together, and I said this in my piece, and created a super smart campaign to say: “Here’s what’s in your wine, here are the ingredients that could be in your wine, and here’s why it’s okay.” Because they’re naturally derived. They’re things like, you know, bentonite clay that we put in to fine and filter, and then we remove it. So it’s not even in the wine at the end of the day. The acid we add to acidify our wines is naturally derived. If the wine industry had put together a campaign, I think it’s a missed opportunity that they didn’t. And so of course, marketers are going to seize that opportunity and give consumers what they want. There has just traditionally been this protectiveness of the old guard of wine. And I think there’s a place for that. Absolutely. There are wine enthusiasts and students of wine and scholars of wine, who truly do want to keep things very traditional. And they are very scientific about it. And that’s great. And there’s a place for that. But there’s also a place for consumers who just want to drink the stuff and love the pretty label. And you know, they’re thrilled to see a marketing message that says clean, whether they pursue that or not. Whether it’s you know, their thing, it doesn’t matter. They’re at least embracing wines and purchasing wines and supporting the industry, which to be honest, the industry needs right now.
Natalie MacLean 21:06
Yeah, exactly. As you say, you mentioned White Claw, which is the alcoholic seltzer that’s going to eat or drink wines’ lunch if the wine industry doesn’t get more innovative. But there just seems to be a particular venom for celebrity endorsed or I don’t know, is it female celebrity endorsed wines, because you’ve got Snoop Dogg out there, as you’ve mentioned, with his wines, and you’ve got other gimmicky things like polygraphs and virtual reality labels. Do you think there’s something in addition to just not wanting change? Why is there particular venom toward clean and wellness and Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow? Is there anything more to it?
Devin Parr 21:50
I don’t, I mean, yes, potentially, there is this undercurrent of, I think, sexism in a certain way without calling anybody out. I think that is always an undercurrent in the wine world. And there have been some brave women coming out and putting an end to that in many ways, and speaking up and trying to change that, which I have so much respect for. But the clean thing, I think everyone is very hesitant to relate wine to wellness directly. And that is a good thing. You know, wine is alcohol at the end of the day, so we don’t want to position it as helpful. But I think there is something to talking about how wine can be incorporated into a healthy or wellness driven lifestyle. You know, I think of myself as someone who is wellness obsessed, and I workout regularly and I try to eat well. But I still also indulge in things like greasy french fries and cheeseburgers.
Natalie MacLean 22:45
And so you’re human
Devin Parr 22:48
Yes, I have my tea and cookies every afternoon that my husband brings me and I have chocolate after dinner and when my kids get McDonald’s, I’m like shovelling the french fries into my face. But I think it’s possible then to position wine as A) like the ultimate natural beverage right and B) part of a healthy lifestyle that can be enjoyed mindfully and in moderation or as part of your dinner and yeah,
Natalie MacLean 23:14
Absolutely. So then what do you think of the movements like dry January and Sober Curious where some of the rhetoric tends to go to all alcohol is a toxin? Or I don’t know, what is your take on that?
Devin Parr 23:27
Someone once said to me, why wouldn’t you just take one day off a week, for the year instead of all of January because last I checked, 52 is more than 30, which is an excellent point. Obviously, if you are questioning your alcohol consumption, I think it’s something worth looking at; absolutely. And addiction runs in my family. So I always have an eye on what is too much. But by the same token, there has been this sort of demonization of the wine world and alcohol in general, with these Sober Curious moments, because there is this judginess about them. And if you follow any of the social media accounts, they don’t feel necessarily as inclusive; some do, but they don’t feel that inclusive, they feel very, I guess, judgmental, and exclusive. And again, my job is to support the wine world. So my job is also to communicate ways that you can enjoy wine, make it part of your lifestyle without it taking over but again, if it’s something that is yes, dry January’s probably a good thing, or you know, being Sober Curious is absolutely worth exploring.
Natalie MacLean 24:32
Yeah, I think I did a conscious uncoupling from both a long time ago, those two movements but
Devin Parr 24:37
yeah, well, there are great non alcoholic products out there right now. Like there’s a sparkling wine called Noughty. I used to work with Thomson and Scott and they’re a UK based brand, but they launched this absolutely delicious alcohol free sparkling wine and a lot of alcohol free or de-alcholized wines are pretty gross, to be honest. Like we really haven’t perfected that yet, but they seem to have done an outstanding job of making a delicious sparkling wine that tastes like the real thing but alcohol free.
Natalie MacLean 25:04
That’s amazing. I have to look for that. And I found some of the low alcohol wines that have come out lately, either they’re specifically targeted say low alcohol or they’re naturally low in alcohol, like say, a Riesling have been delicious. Like there’s New Zealand producer, The Doctors, I think it’s called, it’s got 9% and I had the Rosé last night, it was so good. I couldn’t believe they could pack that much flavour into that low of alcohol, because alcohol, as we know, is a flavour carrier. So it’s a challenge.
Devin Parr 25:34
Yes. But did they with that wine? Did they remove some alcohol?
Natalie MacLean 25:37
Did they use like a, like a centrifuge, or whatever they do to spin off the alcohol? I forget what the devices are? No, I think he was; “What is his method?” Oh, he leaves the canopy on the vine so that the grapes aren’t getting as much direct sunlight. Still, he got these ripe flavours in it. But the sun wasn’t I guess as intense; it had a lot of leafy canopy protecting the grapes. And so the sugars just didn’t rise that high in the grapes. And yet they got phenolic or flavour ripening.
Devin Parr 26:08
Wow! I personally seek out lower alcohol wines. And it’s hard with California wines because they tend to just be like 15 or 14.5 but when I’m looking for wines to drink, I mean, I drink wine every day. I’m looking for those lower alcoholic wines. 13.5 is, my sweet spot for a red or 14 maybe?
Natalie MacLean 26:27
Sure, yeah, I really notice the difference even between 13.5 and 14, maybe it’s age or just how much I’ve drank in my life. I don’t know. But I find once I get past 14, I’m asleep at seven. It’s like I can’t do this. Not that I’m drinking a lot. But anyway, before we leave clean wine because there are a few other things that I want to ask you. It just leads me to so many other things. Do you think that wine labels should have ingredients on them like an ingredient list on the bottle?
Devin Parr 26:56
I think if that’s what consumers are asking for, why not give it to them? I’m in support of it. But you know, there’s the million different questions that go with that, to the point of again, you know, if we’re adding something, but then it precipitates out, does that warrant being put on the label?
Natalie MacLean 27:12
Right, like the bentonite clay? Yeah.
Devin Parr 27:14
Right. But you know, I think it’s a topic worth exploring. And I think there is a movement in all other areas of life, for transparency, and to know what we’re putting in our bodies. And so I want to encourage the wine industry to catch up, I guess. And yeah, that’s what people are looking for in all areas. So if we’re doing it for food, why not do it for beverages?
Natalie MacLean 27:32
For beverages? Absolutely. And wine is all about where it comes from; how it was made. So you think that’d be a natural extension, an ingredient label. The only point that I see is with small producers or even with maybe mid tier, I don’t know, the ingredients can change each year. And how expensive does it get to keep changing that list? Or are there legal implications? One of the solutions that I read about somewhere; it was a hybrid model, where you say four ingredients, scan this barcode, and you go to the website that has the ingredients for that year kind of thing, for those who want that info.
Devin Parr 28:10
Yeah, which is a smart solution.
Natalie MacLean 28:12
Yeah, I think so; I think something can be done along that line. Cool. So you had a quote from; I think it was Jacqueline Coleman, who said the wine industry has an inability to accept curious consumers who aren’t experts. Again, are we just bound up in tradition in the wine industry? Is that, you know, not willing to meet wine consumers where they are.
Devin Parr 28:37
Right? And it’s, I think, because when you look at someone who’s a Master Somm, or a Master of Wine, or even just an advanced Somm, or certified Somm, the level of education that they need to achieve is quite staggering. So I think there’s a protectiveness over that body of knowledge and a frustration from more traditional old school wine enthusiasts that I’ve spent all this time learning this, why don’t you A) make the effort to learn it if you were just sort of an average consumer or a wine influencer, if you will? Why aren’t you making the effort to learn and why don’t you care? And I see both sides in many ways, but I truly believe that just the curious wine consumer, or the person who buys based on label or who likes sweet, buttery Chardonnay, I think they can peacefully coexist with the serious wine aficionados who do care about terroir and oak programmes and malolactic and yields and all that jazz. I think we can all exist and if anything, we learn from each other and we grow the wine community and we grow the wine industry.
Natalie MacLean 29:53
Devin Parr 29:54
I’m a big advocate for inclusiveness in all things, but in particular, in the wine industry,
Unknown Speaker 30:01
Yeah, yeah, that’s great.
Natalie MacLean 30:08
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed part one of my chat with Devin Parr. Here are my takeaways.
Number one, I enjoyed Devon’s take on clean wine and why Cameron Diazs’ new brand caused such an uproar in the wine world. I do think a definition would help. But that’s probably difficult to do, given how the definitions of organic and biodynamic wines differ so greatly
Two: I think wine can fit with wellness and a balanced life without becoming a gimmicky or misguided marketing tactic that positions it as some sort of health drink.
Three, I’m going to search for those low alcohol and alcohol free wines that Devin thinks are worth trying.
And Four, I think wines should be transparent about ingredients. Perhaps using a QR code on the back label that can be scanned to get more details on the wineries website so that the ingredients list can change from year to year and not become so burdensome financially on the winery with packaging changes every vintage.
Alright, just a reminder that you can win one of two tickets to an exclusive virtual wine tasting led by our guest that also includes two bottles of premium California wines that will be shipped directly to your home if you comment on the social media post I created about the contest. Just pick your favourite platform, Insta, Facebook or Twitter and comment on my post before 7pm on May 5. In the show notes, you’ll find a link to these posts, 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 video every Wednesday at 7pm. Eastern, including tonight. That’s all in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/126. You won’t want to miss next week when we continue our fascinating chat with Devin Parr.
Natalie MacLean 32:11
In the meantime, if you missed Episode 20 go back and take a listen. I talked about Malbec which just celebrated its annual World Day. This full bodied Argentine red wine is perfect for grilled meats as we start to get into the spring and summer season of dining outdoors. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Like many artists, Nicholas is fascinated with light, its luminosity, its diffusion, its interplay among the vine leaves. His scientific mind also engaged with light, studying its effect on the health benefits of red wine. Intense sunlight doesn’t mean hotter temperatures, just more intense rays. The intense ultraviolet light at higher elevations speeds photosynthesis, making it more efficient, so the plants are healthier. It also causes the grape skins to thicken in an attempt to protect themselves from the increased radiation. This accelerates the development of natural compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, that give wine its colour, tannin and flavour.
Natalie MacLean 33:34
If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the tips that Devin shared. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, whether it’s clean, or a Malbec, whatever, as long as it’s delicious and you love it.
Natalie MacLean 34:03
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!