Why are sugar and oak often the ketchup of the wine world, used to hide bad grapes or poor winemaking? How did researching my first book lead to my most embarrassing wine moment? What’s the problem with biodynamic and natural wines?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m being interviewed by Paul K on the Wine Talks with Paul K podcast.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
- How can you navigate the shelves at the wine store when every bottle has a 90+ score?
- Why do I believe the individual experience is so important when it comes to wine?
- Why do many celebrity-backed wines seem to perform poorly?
- What flavours are often used to disguise low-quality wine?
- How did researching my first book lead to my most embarrassing wine moment?
- Why is storytelling so powerful?
- What’s the problem with biodynamic and natural wines?
- Why is food and wine pairing an important part of what we do as wine professionals?
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Wine is unlike so many other products we buy. We can’t usually try it before we consume it. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
Wine is such an individual experience that, for me at least, you need to find an individual whose palate lines up with yours and trust that rather than a sort of communal consent. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
Sugar and oak are often the ketchup of the wine world, used to hide bad grapes or poor winemaking. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
There’s a big difference between oak that’s been infused into the wine through chips or staves to flavour it versus wines aged in barrels to soften it and then give it nuances. - Paul K Click to tweet
No one identifies with cold hard perfection like, I know all the vintages and everything. You’re sharing your humanity through a story but you can also embed the wine education through that. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
You can be avant-garde but that can’t be the only virtue of what you’re creating. It’s got to deliver some message, some pleasure, some something beyond I’m different. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
About Paul Kalemkiarian
Paul Kalemkiarian is the host of the podcast Wine Talks with Paul K on which he interviews wine industry royalty as well as Michelin starred chefs. He’s also the owner of America’s oldest wine club, the Original Wine of the Month Club. His expertise in the wine industry spans over 30 years. His father invented the idea of wine in the mail in 1972 and they have been serving wine enthusiasts ever since.
- Connect with Paul K
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 124: Wine Clubs, Wine Finds & Tasting Tips with Paul K – Part 1
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 125: Inflated Wine Scores, Inside Tasting Tips with Paul K – Part 2
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 144: Restaurant List Tips, Wine Courses & Buying Local Wines
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 17: Organic and Biodynamic Wine with Thomas Bachelder
- 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!)
- 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.
Natalie MacLean 0:00
I think that’s how people identify with you. No one identifies with cold hard perfection, like I know all the vintages of all the, you know, raindrops and everything. So you’re sharing your humanity through a story, but you can also embed the wine education through that. And that’s really what I love to do. My mother always put my peas in the mashed potatoes because she was hiding vegetables on me so that I love the creamy potatoes. But that’s what I’m trying to do with stories, is keep someone entertained and interested, but at the same time, teach you a lot about wine through the books or the online courses.
Natalie MacLean 0:46
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 145. Why are sugar and oak often considered the ketchup of the wine world used to hide bad grapes or poor winemaking? How did researching my first book lead to my most embarrassing wine moment? And what’s the problem with biodynamic and natural wines? You’ll get all those answers and more stories on today’s episode. And we’re turning the tables. Paul K, host of the Wine Talks podcast, is interviewing me for part two of our conversation. If you missed the first part last week, no worries, you can still listen to this one now, but go back and take a listen to it afterwards as it was lots of fun. In the show notes, you’ll find a full transcript of our conversation, links to both of my books, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class, where you can find me on Zoom, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Live video every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/145.
Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show, I’ve been thinking about embarrassing typos that I’ve made, such as forgetting the L in public relations on my resume. My interviewer had fun with that one. Some of my other favourites were those I didn’t make, including signs that read over 10 billion severed, illegally parked cars will be fine, and shoplifters will be prostituted. But my favourite of all time was in a personal ad; Manure woman seeks man of depth. Okay, on with the show.
Paul K 3:17
When I go to the wine shop, and I went not too long ago to the supermarket, my wife hates it because when I go to the supermarket I veer off to the wine section; she’s out trying to shop and I’m screwing around checking out the prices. But t the local Vons in the Beach area here, every single wine had a shelf talker, which is for the listeners, one of those tags that hangs down and it’s got the point system, and I’m looking at it, trying to pull myself back being in the industry and I know much of the wines they’ve tasted there. But how do I figure this out? I mean, I’m looking at a shelf talker. How do I know? Isn’t it confusing? All these ratings and every wine has got a rating now.
Natalie MacLean 3:53
And they’re all over 90
Paul K 3:55
And they’re all over 90. I guess you can find anyway. But is it the same in Canada? And how do we as consumers try to sort through all this?
Natalie MacLean 4:04
It is. There’s many issues associated with that. It’s a great, great question. So every wine has a rating now. And I think it’s because wine is unlike so many other products we buy, we can’t try it, usually at least legally, before we consume it. And you know, we’re going on the label most of the time, you know, you can try on a dress or a suit, you can read the first chapter of a book, but you can’t open that wine. And so then the externals start to matter a whole lot more, the label, the shelf talker, and most of us are too intimidated to talk to liquor store staff, even though they could be a great help and I suggest that as much as you would a sommelier in a restaurant. That’s what we’re down to. And so the liquor store wants to sell every wine it buys and puts out there on the shelf. So it’s going to look for the highest scores it can, from whatever source. So it loves every wine but you necessarily won’t and even if it is a 92, or a 94, you might not like that wine. So what I recommend to my students and podcast listeners and so on is find someone whose palate lines up with yours. So that you know that when that person gives it a 92, it’s something you’re going to like, because there’s a lot of grade inflation going on. I mean, just there’s crazy scores now where everything’s getting a 98 or 99, from certain sources, but you have to learn is that a trustworthy source? Or at least do I trust it? Does my palette line up with that person’s rating and score? And then beyond that, the final tip I always give is, make sure you’re looking at the words, not just the numbers, because it might be a 94 for Beaujolais, but you don’t like red wine.
Paul K 5:46
That’s a great point.
Natalie MacLean 5:48
Yeah, look at the words. Do you like light versus full body red? Well red versus white is pretty obvious. Do you like lots of mouthwatering juicy acidity or do you like something that is a bit calmer and not as juicy? You got to look at the words too, not just the numbers.
Paul K 6:04
I think that’s a really important point. If we’re trying to experiment, trusting the description of this rating system, and I think you’re right. I think if you can choose the rating system that you like, if it’s a Spectator, Enthusiast, James Suckling and now there’s some new ones out there. But I just started, frankly, with wines that I think are really good. And not every wine I think the consumers and listeners should know, is rated. I mean, it’s a conscious decision to get your wine rated, there are lots of political reasons why you would or wouldn’t do it, you might be afraid to get a bad score or a low score and you can’t publicise that. But you know, you have to send those wines to the rating system, to whoever’s rating the wines, and you have to wait for the publication to come out. And most wines are not rated; particularly small, boutique wineries, just don’t bother. So you may not see everybody with a rating.
But I think it’s important to know that there’s some consistency amongst the ratings of “Look, if you’re talking about James Suckling, he is not tasting all the wines himself. You can’t, he’s got hundreds, probably 1000s of wines to taste. And he has a panel of guys that do it for him, just as he started at the Spectator.” But I think finding a consistent source of what you like, what you trust, is an important way to do it. The way we’ve been doing at our office now, it was always been the same premise, but never publicised. And so I started calling it Tuesdays tastings. So if you see a TT around, you can be fine. It’s a very important thing. But we do score. Everything I sell has got a 90 plus rating from me, because I’m not rating it against the universe. I’m rating it against its peer. So other $20 Cabernets, this is a 98, because that one’s an 88.
Natalie MacLean 7:40
So you’re factoring price?
Paul K 7:46
Yes, factoring the price, looking at that shelf, and saying, okay, all those $20 Cabernets, that’s the 98, this is the 75. So it’s a slightly different approach. I do get customers asking, why did you give that wine a 98, I didn’t like it like. Well, amongst other $20 Cabernets, it was worth it based on what I taste, but I can’t please all the palates all the time. And it’s impossible.
Natalie MacLean 8:05
No, you can’t. But I think, Paul, that people will follow you and your individual taste, which is a good thing. Now there’s lots of tasting panels where you get a group of, I don’t know, eight to 10 people, and they come up with one score. And to me that drags wine down to an innocuous middle ground that I don’t think serves anybody, because you’re going to get the person on that panel who loves that juicy, acidic Riesling, and then the one who thinks it’s too tart or whatever. And I just think that’s why in the wine world, we know individuals more than we know panels. You know Robert Parker, he was so famous as a US wine critic. But who is the tasting panel for Wine Enthusiast magazine? I’m not sure. I mean, there are certain names that even contribute to these magazines but I think wine is such an individual experience that for me, at least, you need to find an individual whose palate lines up with your own and trust that rather than the sort of communal consent of you know, as I say, beige middle ground of everybody sort of liked it, but no one in particular,
Paul K 9:08
I think I told you the story. There was a Cabernet came by here a few months ago, and I really, really liked it and it hadn’t been rated,never been sent in. So I contacted the broker. And in America, we buy wines through wholesalers, the regular group, Southern Glazer’s Wines and Spirits, Young’s Market, RNDC (Republic National Distributing Company), whoever it is; big, thick books of wines, tons of things to choose from. And then there’s brokers that just go hustle stuff, and they bring in some really amazing things. She brought in this gorgeous Cabernet and I said, I don’t want it to have ratings, I don’t ask them to make sure there’s ratings, I don’t care if there’s a rating, I just ask if there is one just to understand what they’ve done with it. She says noe but do you want one? She’s gonna go give it to an MW and say, yeah, this got 98 from so and so. And so that kind of defeats the whole thing, right? That leads to the next conversation.
That’s a good segue to celebrity wines to these celebrity. I just read yesterday that Gordon Ramsay came out with a whole brand of, I think there’s Central Coast, Monterey based Pinots and Chardonnays.
Natalie MacLean 10:09
Well Pinot and Chardonnay, I would expect him to do something honking big, like an Amarone, or whatever and have foul language on the back of the label.
Paul K 10:17
But it’s interesting right? They’re there through Seabold; and that’s Chris Miller, the famed Master Sommelier and he has a winery himself called Seabold. So there’s a Master Somm who’s making wine and its interesting to me because there’s only a handful of these guys. It’s interesting to me because again, we go back to these acronyms. It doesn’t mean they’re any better winemakers than anybody else because they studied all this. They understand it for sure but the winemaking is science and biology and fermentation science. So does it make it that you’re good at winemaking just because you have a MW or MS? But regardless, typically over the years, celebrity endorsed wines have not worked in America. Have you seen them in Canada? And do people care?
Natalie MacLean 10:56
Well, we’ve seen lots of celebrity wines. I don’t know that they have that much staying power, because if you’re paying a premium for that brand, or that celebrity cachet, I’m not sure it’s worth it. We talked about this, I believe on my podcast, but Snoop Dogg has just launched up here in Canada, and you talked about seeing it on the shelves, like making its way down in popularity going to the low shelf. So it’ll be interesting to see how that goes up here. Oh, I do know, one of our national newspaper columnists said, it’s so sweet; it ruins the finish or whatever, he gave a really low score, like low for the price. And so I can’t imagine that’s going to go over well. But at the same time, I think there are celebrities who actually care about wine and do a good job. And often their names aren’t on the label. You think the singer Pink, her brand is Wolf something (Two Wolves). And then you’ve got, well they divorced, but Brangelina, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with Miraval, made by a very great winery in the Rhône Valley. So you do have exceptions to the rule. But I find on principle, there are exceptions, not usually celebrity wines, you know, they’re go to’s,
Paul K 12:11
Well,I have a couple of opinions on that. One is, yeah, you’re paying a premium; there’s no way Gordon Ramsay, or Snoop Dogg, or anybody else is putting their name on the label without a fee. That’s just business. And unfortunately, wine is business. The people that make wine, that grow grapes to make wine, they’re in it to make money. We’re not going to throw crops away because mildew is coming, and we’re not going to sulfite it if we’re into that no sulfite type thing. We’re going to do it because this is business, we’ve got to put it in the bottle.
I think that’s also the premise of a lot of bad wines. There are bad wines out there, they’re from bad grapes. There are good grapes that make bad wines too, from the winemakers point. So they’re bottled or they’re sold in bulk, and they’re blended with other things to soften them.
And you mentioned the sugar content of Snoop Dogg’s wine. That’s a classic way to do two things. One is to make it more approachable for the regular wine drinker. In my experience here, the wine of the Month Club is Yes; wines that have a little bit of residual sugar in them tend to do pretty well, you know, because they’re softer and easier to drink. They’re hard to drink a lot of because eventually this comes cloying and hard to drink. But the initial expression of the sugar is more approachable. That is definitely one of the things that they do to cut the bitterness, right? They put a little bit of sugar in there because the grapes aren’t so good in the first place. Is going to call it Cali red in Canada or is he going to call it something else?
Natalie MacLean 13:30
It’s got his name on it, Snoop Dogg, and they’ve got this great big metal statue of him in one of the liquor stores and he’s got corks all at his feet. I don’t know what’s going on. But you’re right, sugar, and oak, often the ketchup of the wine world, used to sort of hide bad grapes or poor winemaking. If that’s all you’re tasting, or that’s the primary sensation, you probably aren’t looking at well made wine.
Paul K 13:54
Yeah, there’s a big difference in oak that’s been infused into the wine through chips or staves to flavour it; versus wines aged in barrel to actually soften it and then give it the nuances and I think it’s important to understand. This Gordon Ramsay thing, I’m thinking, “Okay, it’s gonna sell some”. And I think most of the time, the celebrity approach is that well, I’m a really special person and so people will buy it because it’s mine. Now, the other day, I had a wine. It was from Terrell Owens, a football NFL player. I’m thinking myself, I mean, seriously, and I know who made it, I know what I could buy the juice for if I just bought it for myself, considerably less than that bottle of wine they want to charge because Terrell Owens name is on it. I’m not dissing Terrell Owens, I’m not even sure of his football career. But why would we think that a football player or a basketball player or golfer’s wine has anything to do with anything?
Natalie MacLean 14:53
Exactly. And there was even a study on this Paul, at a university here in Canada, Brock, and they did blind panel tastings with different celebrities, except they made the celebrities up. And one was a wrestler, and one was a golf pro, and one was players football, and then a hockey. And you know, the wrestler ended up at the bottom. But just as we might expect, the golfer, that genteel, lots of rolling greens, I don’t know the associations was more on brand for wine. So..
Paul K 15:20
Really? I’m gonna tell the story cuz it’s really crazy. I was in an RFP, I was in the proposal mode to be the Professional Golf Association wine club. And so you would think that there’s affinity between golf and wine, you would actually think, and I’m gonna say this out loud, that there’s an affinity between food and wine, of course there is when we drink and eat. But there really is no, marketing affinity; it is very difficult to define that for you. But we have not found over the years of pure marketing business, that foodies are necessarily any more better wine buyers as far as quantity and what they like.
But regardless, the Golf Association was looking for a club to start, and they felt that there’s this huge assimilation between golfers and wine. So I won the bid. I went through a whole presentation, they were going to start this club. At that time, there were 16 golfers that had wines, and I was invited to Pinehurst and present all the wines to a group of people that were interested in knowing. And this one couple came she was oh, we just bought a bottle of I forgot who the golfer was from the clubhouse, and they paid like 30 bucks, okay, for this bottle of wine. And I was just offered the same juice with the standard label from that winery for $3, the wholesale cost, okay? I felt so bad for them. They like what do you think? I’m like, you know, I don’t know. But none of those golfers have wine still, except for Greg Norman because he actually owns two wineries. Morgan, his daughter actually manages the wineries and manages the source of the grapes and manages what the wine tastes like. But none of the golfers have wines today. And one of them was really good. It was Fred Couples, I forgot who made the wine, but tit was a well known winery in Napa, but it was a $60, Sangiovese. If I’m a wine enthusiast, am I going to walk into the wine shop, and I know that time I could have spent $60 on an Alexander Valley Silver Oak, or Fred Couples Sangiovese? Right?
Natalie MacLean 17:13
Right. You know, it’s a marketing game. Even though if you like Fred Couples, still, it might be a gag gift or whatever, the first time. But as you know, Paul, what’s on the label sells the first time, what’s in the bottle sells the second time and people need to see the quality for the bucks they’re paying.
Paul K 17:28
So the irony of the end of the story is we never started the club. And that was because the poor soul that was the liaison, who used to work for the Golf Association, who thought this idea was going to work and brought it to the PGA, and brought me in on it was walking from the first green to the second tee, in a promotional golf tournament, with one of the presidents of like Titleist or one of these big companies, and a tree fell and killed him. Isn’t it crazy? They called me immediately because I was one of the last phone calls he had made on his cell phone to discuss this thing. And he had just gotten the contract from the PGA that morning or the morning before. And we were about to discuss the three way relationship between the PGA and Wine of the Month Club in him. And it never happened. His name is Bruce F. It’s really sad. It was just kind of a crazy, crazy end of a story really. Maybe I shouldn’t have brought that up and depressed the whole podcast. So
Natalie MacLean 18:33
Getting back to golf of course, the only thing I liked about it was going back to the clubhouse after we had fought our way through the greens and having a nice glass of wine and steak, though they weren’t branded. But yeah, that’s my only association with wine and golf. But there you go.
Paul K 18:48
That leads me to the next question. We talked about this a little bit before but worst moment in wine. Is there such a thing as that? And what might that be for you that you just said, Oh my gosh, this is really not happening.
Natalie MacLean 19:01
Oh, so many; Where to start? Um, so for my first book, Red, White and Drunk all over, I decided to do the Day in the Life approach, meaning I worked as a sommelier in a fancy French restaurant, I worked in wine stores, I worked the harvest. So in the restaurant, I thought I’d up the ante, and I’m naturally a nervous, anxious person and so I thought why not go for like a four diamond restaurant, a French for diamond restaurant here, to make myself extra nervous. So, you know, I was trying to disappear into the wallpaper, but I finally had to flap my baby wings and get out there on the floor and serve people expensive wines and Bordeaux in particular. And I remember there was this couple, two women actually and they ordered a very expensive wine and I started pouring it in my hand was shaking so much that I dribbled it on the beautiful white linen tablecloth. And so she didn’t even look at me. Her voice and her face just turned really hard. And she kept talking to her friend and then I said, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Like I was in the slow motion; I’m sorry. She refused to look at me and she said, That’ll be all. And I felt for the first time what it felt like to be dismissed, like, not service, servility. And it was just like, oh my God, I’m never gonna do this to anyone who makes a mistake in a restaurant ever again. So I just sort of slunk off and had to tell the manager and he comped, you know, an extra, I think it was either bottle or glass, but it was just so like, Oh, my gosh! I have a solution for that.
Paul K 20:36
I have a solution for that, a wine pouring disk. that’ll stop them.
Natalie MacLean 20:42
Where were you when I needed you? That’s right. I should have come up with, my I don’t know if they would have allowed them in this fancy place, but yeah, it’d be like pouring with training wheels. I got my little thing here.
Paul K 20:51
What would you think then as a wine educator? Well, no, no, not the wine educator, the chief of wind happiness? What would you consider your strongest suit? Like would it be the education aspect, your tasting skills, your your ability to describe wine, which is different for everybody? Or pairing things? Writing skills; obviously, a very high on your list?
Natalie MacLean 21:08
Thank you. Yeah, well, I think tasting I don’t know, I’ve been identified as a super taster, which doesn’t mean I’m a better taster. It just means I’m a more sensitive one, you know, more taste buds, and that, but I think really, what my passion is, is storytelling, and whether that’s through my online courses, and trying to connect with people through stories, or the writing in the books, I just love stories. Like your’re great, great interviewer, Paul, you’re bringing the stories out of me, like, you know, sitting down, getting interviewed for McKinsey, or whatever, just the one we just covered. But I think that’s how people identify with you. No one identifies with cold hard perfection, like I know all the vintages of all the you know, raindrops and everything. So you’re sharing your humanity through a story, but you can also embed the wine education through that. And that’s really what I love to do. I’ve said this before, but my mother always put my peas in the mashed potatoes because she was hiding vegetables on me so that I love the creamy potatoes. But that’s what I’m trying to do with stories is like, keep someone entertained and interested, but at the same time, teach you a lot about why whether again, through the books or the online courses,
Paul K 22:23
How do you keep that passion going? Because how do you keep yourself educated? What are you doing to keep motivated to know the next step to understand what’s coming in the thing? Wait, let’s just talk about biodynamic and organic wines for a second. Very popular, people are interested in it, they’re asking questions. What are you doing to learn about it yourself?
Natalie MacLean 22:42
Well, this may be the lazy way out, but I just line up guests on Wine Talk podcast, and ask somebody else. And that’s the way I educate myself because I just ask nosy, impertinent questions that I’d never get to ask if I were just at a dinner party with this person. So we’ll dig right into biodynamics or orange wines or whatever the latest trend is. That’s the way I learned, like being a writer gives you an excuse to nose your way into people’s lives and ask them these questions; it gives you access. And that’s the way I learned, by keeping curious and staying both neurotic and impertinent
Paul K 23:21
It’s funny. Well, I wouldn’t say impertinent but maybe a little.
Natalie MacLean 23:26
Absolutely. The questions I ask
Paul K 23:29
We talked about Tilar Mazzeo last time, the author of the Hôtel on Place Vendôme and The Widow Clicquot; but that’s exactly right. You know, I read her book because I love the stories of the war, and I love Paris and we love the Ritz. So we love the bar Hemingway. And so I read the story, I’m enamoured and I find out that she has a winery. So she’s on there. So we’re talking about wineries, well, I find out from her that she’s part of the raw movement out of London with Isabelle Legeron, and I get a chance to talk to you. So we move forward as podcasters and media like Well, that was the interesting story. I wonder I can get to the root of that part of it. And it teaches us a lot.
Natalie MacLean 24:05
Exactly; one thing branches into another and you just follow your line of curiosity.
Paul K 24:10
It teaches us a lot.This kind of goes back to keep coming up with more subjects. And we’re running out of time here. But we talked about biodynamic wines and I had a Bordeaux last night that was biodynamic. It was fabulous. And I would have only known it was biodynamic by the taste because they’re a little brighter; they’re a little fresher; they have a little bit more approachable character when they’re younger. They don’t seem to last as long, right? They don’t age well, but they sure are bright. But there are a lot of biodynamic and organic wines that taste like horse manure. I’m guessing this and maybe we’re gonna use the barnyard, right? Well, now they had the poop emoji; I gotta make a horse poop emoji and maybe we’ll start using a specific type of poop. I don’t know if this generation and my daughter who’s the baker, New York loves orange wines, and she actually taught me about that when they first came out, I had never even heard of them.
I’m thinking this generation is stomaching these wines and a lot of them are just not that good, it takes a long time, as you’ve probably learned with your podcasting and your reading experience for a winery, let’s say the three years minimum to become certified organic or the three years minimum to become certified, biodynamic doesn’t mean you make good wine from it, it just means that you’re processing the grapes, and you’re processing in the winery to the standards that that certification allows you. But it takes a long time to understand, when you’ve converted a winery from conventional to organic or biodynamic, what those grapes are going to do, what they’re gonna taste like, how are we going to make the best wine from those new grapes that are different from the ones that we grew before? Have you tasted some of these things and found them just to be really hard to stomach? Swallow?
Natalie MacLean 25:52
Yeah, exactly. Sure, there have been some real ugly babies in the glass. And you know, whether it’s natural, raw, orange, I mean, there’s just some weird stuff out there. But I recognise, you know, there’s a whole world of taste and diversity and drinkers as there is in glasses of wine. What I don’t agree with is funkiness or weirdness for the sake of it. A wine should still be well made without faults, you know, it should be tried to be typical of where it’s from. It’s like anything in music, books, and so on. You can be avant garde, but that can’t be the only virtue of what you’re creating. It’s got to deliver some message, some pleasure, some something beyond I’m just different.
Paul K 26:39
A great way to put it. Particularly, because who has not been to the natural food market, and bought carrots or turnips or something, and they kind of just don’t taste that good. You know, they’re just not that great, just because they’re on trend. Just because they’re organic, it doesn’t matter.
You were talking about pairing guides. It’s an important part of what we do, because I’ll go back to a conversation I had with Jonathan Waxman, the famed chef around here. And we’ll close with this thought. It’s not that long ago, that my aha moment, and I’ve been doing this for 30 years. But the aha moment of, and I’m going to move in the direction of what I do when I get home used to be, Honey, what are we having? Or what can I make? Then I’d open the wine. And now when I get home, it’s like, what do I feel like drinking? Do I feel like this Canary Islands red? Or do I feel like a fine Burgundy and spend $300 on the bottle? Or do I feel like my regular Bordeaux, you know, from the Bordeaux club? What do I feel like drinking? In other words; how do I want to feel after I drink this? And then I worry about what’s for dinner. And Jonathan Waxman said, yeah, that’s what we do. I open up what I want to drink. And then I open the fridge and see what’s going on in there, see if anything works. Is that happening in your house?
Natalie MacLean 27:49
Absolutely. I’m an earrings first kind of gal. And then I choose the outfit. So wine is always first. Not that wine is just an accessory. Thank you very much. I lead with wine. And then I figure out what could fit with this, the food, the people, the place. Definitely, I’m about wine first.
Paul K 28:05
I think it’s a fun approach. And I encourage listeners to start thinking that way and having a variety of wines on their shelf at different price ranges depending on how they feel, to experience the character. Natalie it’s been a huge pleasure having you on the show. I hope we get to do it again sometime.
Natalie MacLean 28:21
Absolutely. Paul, I would love to. I loved the chat we had on Unreserved Wine Talk podcast and this one. I just think we could talk for hours. I know we could.
Paul K 28:31
Cheers. And thanks again and hope to see you soon. All right.
Natalie MacLean 28:36
Thanks, Paul. Cheers to you, too.
Paul K 28:44
Thank you for listening to Wine Talks with Paul Kalemkarian. D’on’t forget to subscribe because there’s more great interviews on their way. And of course, all these podcasts are sponsored by the original Wine of the Month Club, over 48 years in business. Don’t forget to visit our website WineoftheMonthClub.com. Folks, have a great time out there in the wine world. Cheers.
Natalie MacLean 29:14
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Paul K. In the show notes you’ll find a transcript of our conversation, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class, links to both of my books, and where you can find me on Zoom, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Live video every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/145.
You won’t want to miss next week when we chat with Kate Dingwall who writes about food and drink for Forbes, Toronto Life, the Toronto Star, Wine Enthusiast and many other publications. She’s also the sommelier at Dreyfus, one of Canada’s top restaurants. In the meantime, if you missed Episode 17 go back and take a listen. I chat about organic and biodynamic wine with rockstar winemaker Thomas Bachelder. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Thomas Bachelder 30:15
Organics and biodynamics are the same from an organic viticulture point of view and from winemaking point of view. It’s non intervention. You can use mine minerals like sulphur and copper, put them into water and spray and they help protect. Any rainfall, they get washed right out. Now, whether you’re in organics or biodynamics, the copper is a metal, it’s a heavy metal, and you can eventually get toxicity in your soil. So even with organics and biodynamics, we’re watching copper like a hawk. We have virgin soils over here compared to Burgundy. I learned from the Burgundians. They actually look at the load they’re putting on a vineyard every year and they try to get treatments. Imagine that you’re organic, using organic materials and you’re trying to get treatments. It’s like not taking your full antibiotic dose when you’ve been sick. But we do that to try to always use the least intervention on wine we can.
Natalie MacLean 31:19
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 I shared. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a wine that has only a kiss of oak..
Natalie MacLean 31:43
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full bodied 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.