Food & Wine Pairing Without Intimidation with the Interpreting Wine Podcast’s Lawrence Francis



How can you learn more about food and wine without the intimidation factor? Why does exploring outside of your arena often drive inspiration and innovation? Why is writing a memoir like living your life twice?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m being interviewed by Lawrence Francis, host of the Interpreting Wine podcast.

You can find the wines we discussed here.


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  • Why do wine podcasts attract an international audience?
  • Why do I focus mostly on wine in my content?
  • How did I get started with TV appearances, and how has that evolved?
  • What trends and strategies have been used in wine communication since the start of the pandemic?
  • What kind of feedback have I gotten on my courses from beginners and industry professionals?
  • How have I incorporated elements into my online courses to help students feel more comfortable in an environment that can often be intimidating?
  • Which podcasts are currently on my list of favourites?
  • Why does exploring outside of your arena often drive inspiration and innovation?
  • Why did I write a memoir after publishing two very different books?
  • What can you expect from my upcoming third book?


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About Lawrence Francis

Lawrence Francis spent 10 years as a Psychologist and Coach before entering the wine industry. He’s been the host of the Interpreting Wine podcast since 2017; helping winemakers with underpriced, undersold or unknown wines address these challenges with compelling storytelling that engages wine consumers. Four years later, he’s now published more than 430 episodes, with more than 300,000 downloads in 150 countries.




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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, and other country-specific Amazon sites;, and other country-specific iTunes sites; and



Natalie MacLean 0:00
They say writing a memoir is like living your life twice. I had to shift my mindset from being a reporter as I was in the first two books to actually being a character in my own book. You really, really have to dig down. It felt like emotional fracking. It was like, Oh my God, I have to go there. It’s very much about the wine industry, about the misogyny that is still going on in the wine industry. And that one year my professional personal life kind of exploded. But writing this memoir has helped me put it all together again in what I think is a really powerful story for other people, not just women, but people in the industry and outside of it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done because it’s so personal. Putting a wine book out there versus a wine memoir is kind of the difference between going on an interview versus going on a date.

Natalie MacLean 1:00
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 220. How can you learn more about food and wine without the intimidation factor? Why does exploring outside your area of comfort often drive inspiration and innovation? And why is writing a memoir like living your life twice? You’ll hear those tips and stories in Part Two of my chat with Lawrence Francis, host of the Interpreting Wine podcast. You don’t have to have listened to Part One from last week first. But I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after we finished this one. Lawrence is actually interviewing me and I have lots of juicy stories and tips to share with you.

Now a quick update on my upcoming memoir Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much. Every time a beta reader emails me and says I’m so brave for exposing myself so publicly in my memoir, I get really nervous. I know they mean well. But I wonder did I go too far? I write about my issues with drinking too much wine during my divorce and career meltdown. I also talk about being hyper competitive and a perfectionist. Perhaps putting that all on the page is was a way of holding myself to public accountability because anyone who reads the book now will know all my flaws. And I’ll know they know. And there’s no more slipping up in private.That’s the downside of being so open. The upside is the amazing connection I feel with readers, when they send me comments about the book, especially when they tell me they feel they’re not alone in their struggles. And now, so do I.

Here’s a review from Tom Lutz, a beta reader in Iowa. “Wine Witch on Fire is a deeply personal, yet artfully entertaining introspective that doesn’t just tell Natalie MacLean’s story, but invites you into it. I’m always particularly intrigued by books that make me really stop and think. And I found myself doing just that multiple times throughout this book. Five star”. Thank you, Tom.

I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book launch in the show notes at This is also where I share more behind the scenes stories of the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at [email protected] Okay, on with the show.

Lawrence Francis 4:33
The thing that probably surprised me the most was being based in London I assumed that the UK would always be my biggest audience and it was that way to begin with. But even in the first year, it was 40% UK 25% US. And last year and now through into this year, the US has now overtaken the UK. So I think you know we can definitely say that some of the other stats out there around, I think the US has a thirst for wine and a thirst for wine education.

Natalie MacLean


Lawrence Francis

I think all of these other trends are great to kind of have out there and kind of tried to triangulate. And I think that’s definitely coming through in podcasts, which is already a channel but they’ve embraced and they’ve embraced certainly a higher rate than we have in the UK. But we’re catching up.

Natalie MacLean 5:23
Yes, absolutely. And yeah, it’s such a bigger market. It’s 10 times that of Canada. And even though our percentage of podcast listeners is greater per capita, the US is so much larger. And so yeah, we get lots of US, UK as well, Australia, and of course Canadian.

Lawrence Francis 5:40
Yeah, this is all this sort of yeah  English speaking markets. And I think the thing that’s always been interesting for me as well has been that countries like Spain and Italy and Portugal, a lot of them have the approach and the strategy to export their wines. And I think that they seem to like targeting those markets because I think you do have a drinker and certainly a trade that is educating itself and is essentially equipping themselves with the knowledge to be able to share that producer story and that regional story and to really, you know, create compelling written and audio content based on that.

Natalie MacLean 6:19
Absolutely. And you know for Canada especially, but also to a certain extent the US, we don’t have a long tradition of winemaking as you do in Europe. And we’re not the centre of wine trade as you were in London are. So I mean it was beer and whiskey if you go way back in history. And so North America is thirsty to learn from many wine cultures and learn about many wine types. We’re not as you know –  I’m just imagining here –  if you’re born in Bordeaux, you probably grew up drinking Bordeaux. And that’s kind of what the main thing is. I know people are all branching out these days, but it’s so diverse in North America, the thirst to learn and the thirst for wines from different countries.

Lawrence Francis 6:58
Fascinating. And yeah possibly my last direct question about the podcast. I always do this, I always get a yeah when I hear an interesting answer, another question will always come up. But just noticing that you’ve mentioned beer and whiskey a couple of times. And I’m curious, have you always kept your topics focused on wine and people related to wine? Have you ever been tempted to broaden out if that’s not the case?

Natalie MacLean 7:25
Well, my podcast is called Unreserved Wine Talk, but I could add maybe a tagline PS whiskey too or beer too. I haven’t focused on beer and whiskey or spirits on the podcast. It’s something I consider. Again it would be based on the storytelling and I think there’s plenty of stories in beer and whiskey. Now some of my, especially the writers I’ve interviewed, also write about other drinks. So Mallory O’Meara, the book I just mentioned, she writes about bourbon and so on. So we do touch on those topics as well. So it’s something to consider. I want to make sure that I’m still focused as I don’t know brand positioning if you will that, you know, you’ve come to me to learn about wine, to hear wine stories. But you know, I also talk about wine and spirits on television here in Canada quite frequently. And spirits are usually part of that mix as well. So I do do probably more spirits and beer on the TV work that I do then the podcast.

Lawrence Francis 8:24
Okay. And this is perfect alignment because my next question was actually going to be around wine communication but really broadening it out into those different channels. And I’m just aware that we haven’t spoken about the work that you do with television in Canada. So I wonder if  you just sort of painted that picture of again how did that come to be a thing? And what does that currently look like?

Unknown Speaker 8:49
Sure. So on my first book tour, Random House was amazing and they took me across the country and down to the States and booked me on radio and TV shows. I had no idea like how this happened. Like I would never be able to do that myself at the first time. But they had a publicist dedicated. Was the good old days when writers actually did do book tours. And so I made a lot of contacts with various hosts and TV, radio producers. And a number of them said, okay, this is fun. We’ve had a great chat. Why don’t you come back and just talk about wine, not necessarily your book. But let’s talk about wines for the holidays, wines for chocolate pairing at Valentine’s Day wines for whatever. And so I returned to those places and they would introduce me via my book, which was great for the book, but we talked mostly about other topics wine related.

Same thing happened with Unquenchable, my second book. So I’ve been doing TV longer, much longer than podcasts. But what’s happened especially with COVID is that I’m doing remotes now. Like you and I. We’re talking right now. The TV stations all had to pivot to that. And so what that did was enabled me from my office where I am now to go on shows across the country. So it’s never been crazy or busier than right now because everyone wants to talk about holiday wines. But you know like this week, I’ve spoken about holiday wines on 12 different television shows. But I can do it because it’s right here. It’s so easy. And I don’t have to fly to Saskatchewan or down to Halifax. So my focus has been largely on Canada. It’d be great for the sake of book three to branch out to the States. But yeah, that’s kind of how it’s really changed. I like it a lot. And being a natural hermit introvert, I love being able to just you know get a nice blouse on, wear my shorts, which is what I’m doing now – probably too much information – and just do the

Lawrence Francis 10:51
Get the heating on I guess

Natalie MacLean


Lawrence Francis

And well insulated homes in Canada.

Natalie MacLean 10:55
Exactly. It’s just so easy and it’s opened up a new world of reaching far more wine lovers, consumers, readers, podcast listeners than I could have ever pre COVID.

Lawrence Francis 11:07
Is there a sense that that is going to be sort of staying around as we go into 2022? I mean, I’ve certainly seen in the UK you know a programme here, Saturday Kitchen, where they have you know the regular drinks expo on and they were always previously in studio, they then went to being on the screen, and then they’re back in the studio as far as I can remember. But I’m just curious, is there a sense of you will kind of never go back to being there in person? Or is that still up in the air?

Natalie MacLean 11:38
Well as an introvert, I hope I never have to go back to a studio. Thank you. And it’s just so time consuming. But anyway, First World problems. So I live in Ottawa, Toronto is an hour flight away. And so if I’m on a morning show in Toronto and have to be there physically, usually I’m staying overnight the night before. And I’m happy to do that. But so far, no one’s asked me to travel. And so for shows that are even further away, it’s probably not practical cost wise or time wise because some of these shows that I’m doing coast to coast are four and five hours away. But we’ve had such a good experience doing it and the host keep asking me back. I’m hoping it will stay either like that or at least hybrid where perhaps I go physically to the stations that are closest to me. But for those further away, I’m hoping that continues. It looks like it’s going to because it’s easy for them as well. But we’ll see.

Lawrence Francis 12:34
Fascinating. And yeah I think that that gives us a really interesting window into wider wine communication. And I think yeah fascinating that there are so many opportunities. I would say it sounds as though so right the way across Canada, right the way across the States, looking back maybe you know broadening it out potentially as well.

What do you think has been you know some other major developments in terms of wind communication really since COVID, over the last sort of 18 months? Are there themes and strategies maybe that you see particular regions, or particular wine styles, or  magazines using to keep the audience more engaged?

Unknown Speaker 13:17
Well, I think the one that jumps out. It’s probably not going to be surprising. Is just the plethora of online wine tastings and then consumer acceptance of not just tastings but online courses. Because I know during COVID, and it continues to this day, my own online courses have exploded in terms of the number of people registering for them, which is awesome because not only can I earn a living, but this but the people are connecting with each other around the world. And I think that is really important. Whether during a pandemic or not that connection, that feeling like I have a group that I belong to who shares my passion you know. A lot of somms and even WSET 3s and winemakers, take my food and wine pairing classes because a lot of the other designations official designations don’t dive into that quite as deeply as I do. That’s my passion. Is it’s all about food and wine pairing my courses, and it’s just so much fun that you have these professionals, somms, and so on taking it but you also have beginners, because food is so universally accessible. You know we don’t worry about the vintage of the roast chicken. We’re not trying to figure out all of that.

But so if you take people into the world of wine through food, just wine it’s so much more well as I say accessible. But it also brings together that spectrum again of both the experts and the beginners. And we can talk on one level without anybody feeling embarrassed or bored about food and wine pairing. So you know we take the deep dive into you know shellfish or you know takeout food. It’s a lot of fun and you know but still applying the principles of what’s happening here too chemically in your mouth, you know, that sort of thing. So that’s really changed the whole consumer acceptance of online learning.

And the delivery mechanisms. I came from the world of high tech so I had this setup fortunately before COVID. Like I had all the systems and you know we do live interaction. There’s pre-recorded stuff, so if they’re on the go or they missed the live session, they always get the videos. They know they have lifetime access to everything, which is very different from a one and done kind of in person course.

Lawrence Francis 15:32
Amazing. And I’m so interested in that dynamic that you’re describing, Natalie, because I think it’s something that I have touched on various points through my journey. And just that idea of, I don’t know exactly why, but we are in wine we you know people – again huge generalization – but people will be more reserved to give an opinion about a wine and then they will be about a chocolate or a beer or just I think just about any other kind of liquid or substance out there. And I’m just curious, did you kind of in a sense bake that interaction and that openness into the courses and into the structure? Maybe give us a little bit of a peek behind the curtain in terms of how you draw people out in what can be quite a bit of a scary subject, or certainly for people coming into it for the first time.

Natalie MacLean 16:27
Sure. So leading with food helped. So my flagship course is called the Wine Smart Course: A Full Bodied Framework to Taste, Buy, and Pair Wine like a Pro. And so that captures as I say both those who are new to wine, but also the somms and WSETs and so on, who feel that’s missing from what they’ve been able to study online or in person. And the engagement, again it’s not as socially stigmatized. There’s not as much tension because we’re talking about roast chicken first or whatever. It’s far more granular than that food wise, but people will venture an opinion more about food as the entry point.

And then of course online you’re not sitting in a physical class afraid to raise your hand and look stupid. You can with an online class, even if it’s live, you don’t even have to have your camera on. So I get lots of people easing into it who just are not comfortable. And then eventually, as the course goes on or even as an evening goes on, I see them flip on their cameras. They don’t have to but people warm up once they know it’s okay. And no one’s going to be made a fool. And that all questions are welcome. And it sparks the discussion. And people say I felt that way, too, I mean I think that’s what books and memoirs are about. But classes can be that kind of warmer learning environment that gradually gets people from where they are to where they want to be in their confidence.

Lawrence Francis 17:58
I love it. Yeah I think just again making connections to the various events that I’ve attended. And yeah, I don’t know that there’s any that have ever started with food. Thinking back now, most start with geography. And you would say there’s a logical route there to talking about geography and potentially some of the features or the characteristics of the wine that that then informs. But that being said, geography is geography you know. It’s kind of you don’t really have an opinion on geography. It kind of just is. But I really think you’re onto something there. And I think that your results are really showing that in terms of the food being that thing that the people feel already naturally able to talk about. Unable to kind of have an opinion on that sounds as though it’s. Yeah, it’s something that my listeners who are you know, a lot of them are in the trade and are communicators, I think that that is going to be a really strong takeaway points for them.

Natalie MacLean 18:55
Oh, that’s great, Lawrence. And you know I do think there’s a parallel with starting a book with your hook. Your feet first. Starting a course with the food, the food will draw them in. That’s the hook and then we can back out and say okay these wines would go with the food. So let’s tantalize and de-stigmatize or get them relaxed with the food. Let’s talk about, just pull it out of the examples. But roast chicken okay everybody’s relaxed. We’re talking about roast chicken. And then you know what seasonings. If we had thyme with it, if we had this, if we had that and people are contributing and like how could this be done? And then, let’s back out and talk about wine styles that go with that. Why? Well, why takes you right to geography. Your geography is you backstory, but you have to earn their attention first. You have to make them relax first. And I think food will do that.

Lawrence Francis 19:43
Yeah, absolutely. And maybe you don’t want them to hungry though. I guess if you’re talking about food and they’re hungry then their mind will probably end up in the stomach rather than on the content.

Natalie MacLean 19:55
Absolutely. I invite people though to snack while we’re doing our courses. Often they actually bring a little bit or sometimes dinner with them so that we can be doing the pairing. So it’s okay if they get hungry as long as they stay thirsty.

Lawrence Francis 20:09
I love it. I love it. Yeah, the two go together. I’m delighted that you’ve mentioned Laura Belgray already, who is somebody who I discovered this summer actually from her various podcasts appearances. And you know, she’s a fabulous copywriter and runs copywriting courses. And just really I think there’s just so much there to learn from in a communication sense. And she is not and I don’t think has ever written directly about wine.

Natalie MacLean

No she hasn’t.

Lawrence Francis

She was very, I think, pleased to see me tagging her in an interview that I did in which I mentioned her as an influencer for me. And she had a good laugh about that.

Natalie MacLean 20:49
Yeah, she’s great. I’ve taken her Coursera course and some others with her. She’s just fabulous. As you know, she writes these fantastic emails. I have to tag her again.  And talking about the most mundane thing but the details are specific. So she might be talking about losing her car keys in the parking lot. She has good wit, good humour. But what happens is the details paint a picture, they resonate, and then you as a reader of what she’s saying you say okay I’ve been in that situation or something like it where I had the same feelings, and then you follow her down. And then as she gets further down her email, she often has a pitch for what she’s selling. But first, you have to get their attention before you sell.

Lawrence Francis 21:32
Amazing. Let us in a little bit too I guess who is on your podcast player or who was in your inbox. And I think you know I’d like to ask it through that lens of in terms of maybe the listeners haven’t come across in terms of communication is out there doing things and putting out content that you think actually you know more people in wine could actually benefit from engaging with this.

Natalie MacLean 21:59
So Lawrence, I think I heard you mentioned this on one of your previous podcasts. I listened to your podcast, of course, to determine that I wanted to invite you on to mine. But I think you too aren’t a big listener of wine podcasts.

Lawrence Francis 22:11
Yeah, just to keep it kind of pure…

Natalie MacLean


Lawrence Francis

And not influenced, so I don’t end up sounding like  you know a Gary Vaynerchuk knockoff or something.

Natalie MacLean 22:20
Exactly. So I will listen to wine podcasts only when I’m sort of searching for my next guest. So I will listen to a bunch of the guest’s episodes as background research. But for my personal enjoyment podcast listening, I have several veins. I love tech podcast because I used to be in high tech but also I find, I want to keep up on the tech trends that can help me with what I do in wine communication. So there’s a podcast called Prof. G. And it’s Scott Galloway and he has his own podcast, but he also has a podcast with Kara Swisher of The New York Times. And they’ll talk mostly about high tech trends, whether it’s companies or new programmes or technologies. So I’ve always got my ear to hear what they’re saying about tech. I’m just interested even if it doesn’t apply to my business specifically.

Then the other vein I have is book podcasts. So I’m really binge listening to book podcast right now for how to market a book. So I also love book podcasts that review books, but right now I’m on to marketing books, which I think is a lot like marketing wine. It’s that long tail experience of there’s thousands, hundreds, millions, I don’t know of books. Same with wine. And wine is even more trickier because it changes every year whereas a book usually stays the same once it’s published. I’m very interested in book marketing podcasts like Reading Glasses by Mallory O’Meara, the S H I T  No One Tells You About Books. So they’re always going over all of these techniques and so on. And then beyond that, I love great interviewers no matter what they do. Tim Ferriss because I’m listening for how he interviews people, his techniques. He’s one. But I’m sure you have some. Lawrence who will be your favourite podcast?

Lawrence Francis 24:14
Yeah I mean you’ve mentioned a couple of them already. I don’t think I’ve really mentioned Tim Ferriss too much but he’s definitely. I always remember reading an article about his podcast and his format and the fact that I think he was doing three hour episodes before Joe Rogan was around for example. So I think you know Tim is a bit of a yeah OG podcast guy. I tend to listen to more as I say to Rogan more on the clips. I actually tend to more look at his video so it actually yeah, back to your earlier point around the audience’s being different. I haven’t gotten drawn into listening to Joe Rogan on my podcast. I’ll tend to be a little bit more people who I can learn something from and really I am just thinking back right the way to how I even got to Laura Belgray. It was actually one of her I guess colleagues and friends, a lady called Tarzan Kay, who I think is actually Canadian.

Natalie MacLean

Yes, I’ve taken courses with Tarzan. I love her.

Lawrence Francis

So to introduce Canadians as well as. And she was a guest on the Futur podcast. It’s spelt  F U T U R. And it’s yeah headed up by this guy called Chris Do. D O . And he for many years led a really successful design studio called Blind and they were doing you know these fantastic videos and graphics and you know all the cool stuff. But he’s now changed his direction and now runs this business called The Futur, which does online courses for creatives. So their mission is to keep creatives doing what they love doing and to not have to go and get a job. With them, I’ll dip into their YouTube, I’ll dip into just about everything really right the way across the board, but the way that they use technology. And I think he was the first person I saw at the site of COVID to be giving a class as I sort of waved my hands has stood in front of all of these different screens in front of him to almost try to get that I’m in an auditorium feel. So yeah, definitely worth checking out.

Natalie MacLean

I’m going to have to look for him.

Lawrence Francis

Yeah. And you know Tarzan’s appearance on that was had me hooked as soon as I heard her speaking. And then she mentioned Laura Belgray. So it all everyone’s sort of yeah one degree of separation away from one another.

Natalie MacLean 26:34
It is uncanny. I was in a mastermind with Tarzan. She is amazing. So she’s also aces at copywriting. And yeah, really good. We’ll have to tag her.

Lawrence Francis 26:43
Yeah. fantastic. Yeah. So I think yeah I think as well I think there’s something to be said you know, maybe don’t have to overtake the point, but just around keeping your influences open. You know it’s my impression that I think often wine regions will look to other wine regions for their inspiration. And that may be that there’s a lot of sort of fast following going on and a lot of essentially sort of, you know, trying to copy the success that others have had, which is of course totally understandable. But I think also you know kind of one of the wonderful things around our current state of communication is that you’ve got lots of different channels to try out. And even within those different channels, you can be running experiments and you can be making content for a particular demographic over here in that region and for somebody quite different over there. And actually I think something you said which really resonates you know. What it does it opens a conversation. It actually lets you again break the fourth wall and actually have that direct contact with people, which is I think so valuable. And I think still something that I think wineries and wine regions I think can certainly learn from.

Natalie MacLean 27:55
Yeah, absolutely. And what you’re saying reminds me.  So that conversation happens because people will email you far more based on a podcast or a personal newsletter than anything. I really don’t get emails from Facebook, video watchers, that sort of thing. But just speaking about technology, I’ve been using some new software for beta readers of my new memoir. And it was incredible, because as they were reading the text, they were doing comments and emojis and all the rest of it. I felt we were in conversation because they’d say oh yeah I relate to this and that. And so you know I think when you get into the long form and the two that stand out – again to say it again – podcasts and long form books.  That is where the conversations happen, not just a little tweet or Instagram post. I know everybody’s hep up on Instagram. I don’t see sales coming from Instagram. I do from podcasts and books.

Lawrence Francis 28:56
This is the thing and I talk about this more on on my Instagram feed and at Interpreting Wine. And I just bring it up simply because it’s something that I mentioned a few weeks ago. And actually again I you know I do have a lot of empathy around the reasoning behind this. But I do see a lot of wine regions literally putting up 10 second videos on YouTube. And if the view count is kind of all that you care about, maybe that’s the way to go. Because you get somebody there. And I think the view counts after sort of three seconds. But I just always asked myself you know how much value can you actually. That’d be a pretty amazing 10 seconds. You know if you’re going to tell a story, if you’re going to pack in even a little bit of value there, if you’re going to engage and make something that’s quite memorable, it’d better be a pretty phenomenal 10 seconds.

Natalie MacLean 29:47
Exactly. Because it’s not about just hooking the person to buy your wine the first time. It’s about ongoing loyalty and that requires a story. You know if you want purchase and repurchase and going deeper and going up your more expensive points or whatever it is, that requires a relationship and storytelling.

Lawrence Francis 30:04
Yeah, absolutely. I mean maybe that’s the sort of yeah the influence of Tik Tok coming through and influencing YouTube. But again I think there’s something to be learned that you know the people who are creating those Tik Toks that do draw people in, they are telling a story but they can tell it in five seconds or they can tell it in three seconds. But that is obviously quite a relatively new skill. But again, I think something that will be increasingly important as we move forward and as our attention gets pulled in so many more directions.

Natalie MacLean


Lawrence Francis

I want to just close off and I think give you the chance to take us a little deeper into your memoir, something that I’m happy that you’ve hinted at. And you know maybe you’re using your own techniques there, sort of opening those loops about the memoir. Right from the start.

Natalie MacLean

You noticed that. So what if I did.

Lawrence Francis

It’s worked on me as well. So I’m now yeah super curious to hear more about this book. And yeah it sounds like fascinating development process. And yeah take us into that process of really how that came to be off the back of two quite different books.

Natalie MacLean 31:12
Well thank you for asking, Lawrence. Yeah, this one is quite different from the first two. So the first two were kind of like wine adventures. My inspiration for them was Kermit Lynch Adventures On The Wine Route. So he would go to different places and talk to wacky winemakers you know who had a story to tell. I’m sounding like a broken record. But that’s what I did in Red, White and Drunk All Over  and Unquenchable. I found the most interesting winemakers in the world. And I went to visit them and did things with them like whether it was shark diving off the coast of South Africa or milking goats and pairing cheese or whatever. So it was first person but it wasn’t really a memoir.

And this one is. So this one. They say writing a memoir is like living your life twice, which can be good or bad depending on what part you’re writing about. But in this memoir, I’m writing about the worst vintage of my life. My writing life both personally and professionally. It was the year I got divorced. But also I experienced a blow up on social media back in the heyday, 2012, when Twitter was even worse than it is today. But I won’t go into all the details because I do want people to actually buy this memoir. I’m very excited that it’s going to have a home and be published in 2023.

It’s been a real journey. I had to shift my mindset almost like from being a reporter, as I was in the first two books, to actually being a character in my own book. Because memoir really does more than anything else in nonfiction take the techniques of fiction. So there’s character development, there’s plot development, there’s like the narrative arc, and so on. And you really, really have to dig down. It felt like emotional fracking. It was like Oh my God do I have to go there? And so but I had some great editors that I worked with through my agent.

So to get into these techniques, so it’s very much about the wine industry, about the misogyny that is still going on in the wine industry, and other issues and what it’s like being a woman in the industry. But it’s really the structure or the framework is that one year because it coincided. My professional personal life kind of exploded. But now, writing this memoir has helped me put it all together again in what I think is a really powerful story for other people, not just women, but people in the industry. And outside of it I hope

Of course, I have hopes for that but you know it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because it’s so personal. Putting a wine book out there versus a wine memoir is kind of the difference between going on an interview for a job you want for the first one versus going on a date. You know the fit is quite different from job interview versus a date, and it’s just hits more personally. So that’s kind of the overview of what this is about. And on my podcast, I’m going to take people through the journey of publishing that book. So I’ll still have interviews with other folks but I’ll always start off the podcast now with what’s happening with the book so they can follow the journey right from the time it’s bought by a publisher to publication. So I want to share that story, too.

Lawrence Francis 34:30
I love it. Yeah. I alluded to earlier around that idea of breaking the fourth wall you know and actually seeing behind you and you know getting an insight into your life. And yeah, I am again sort of taken back to an inspiration of mine, Gary Vaynerchuk, which is that you know that sort of document don’t create and I think that that will be a phenomenal journey (a) for the existing podcast audience. But I think I imagine it also makes good business as well because I think it will give you that content that your existing audience can kind of hook somebody else with and say you’re writing a book or you’re interested in book writing process or you know you just want to learn deeper and communicate better. It feels as though all of those things will be coming through on that journey. And I think it sounds like you know an absolutely brilliant decision to to go ahead and do that.

Natalie MacLean 35:27
It’s something, just to draw the parallel, a winemaker could do or a sommelier studying for the master of wine. Take people on the journey with you because there’ll be more invested. First of all, I think it will make a good story. But second of all, they’ll be more invested. So in the case of a winemaker, maybe it’s like you know weekly report. I’m here in the fields and there’s you know the blight is on this vine. I don’t know, financially we’re having trouble or whatever. But take them on that whole roller coaster ride and they will be more invested at the end in your success and your product. So I am hoping it is a business strategy that people will be more invested in the book and actually buy it pre-order it. Pre-orders are important people

Lawrence Francis 36:13
I remember reading that once, hardback pre orders as well or any pre orders.

Unknown Speaker 36:18
Pre-orders. Yes, depending on if it’s published first as a hardback or paperback. Memoirs tend to come out in paperback unless you’re Michelle Obama or somebody like that. But the pre-orders matter because it signals to bookstores to Amazon to the world, print more and this is going to be a successful book. And that momentum becomes a virtuous cycle. But that’s the first harbinger, the first telltale sign that the book might have legs. So pre-orders are really important. Please do.

Lawrence Francis 36:51
Okay, I love it. I’m so happy withour conversation. And we’ve covered so many different interesting areas.

Natalie MacLean 36:59
Absolutely fascinating. And I know we could geek out all day on podcasts. I just know we could keep going.

Lawrence Francis 37:04
I feel as though I’ve been a little bit restrained and balanced. But that being said, I would really like your voice to be the last one on the episode. And really for you to talk about where people can find you online and presumably where they can sign up for your podcast and hear the journey of your upcoming memoir over the coming year or so.

Natalie MacLean 37:26
You are a dream interviewer, Lawrence. Thank you. So people can find me online at my website, So there’s no h.  N A T A L I E  M A C L E A N You can find the podcast if you’re already a podcast listener with Lawrence’s podcast here. So just search in your podcast app for Unreserved Wine Talk or my name again that’ll find it too.

And then for your listeners, especially Lawrence, I’d like to offer them my free wine pairing guide at So I welcome everybody to join me there. Or just email me [email protected] You can find me all the ways on all the social channels as well.

Natalie MacLean 38:17
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoy my chat with Francis. In the show notes, you’ll find my email contact, the full transcript of my conversation with Lawrence, links to his website and podcast, and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm.

You’ll also find a link to my free Ultimate Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. That’s all in the show notes at Email me if you have a sip, tip, question or you’d like to be a beta reader of my new memoir at [email protected] If you missed episode nine, go back and take a listen. I chat about whether vegan and vegetarian wines are better for you with Ezra Cipes, the winemaker at Summerhill Winery in BC. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Ezra Cipes 39:11
Our vineyard in Kelowna is certified by Demeter as a biodynamic vineyard. It has extra rules above and beyond organic. So organic is sort of the baseline, which means that there’s no synthetics being used basically. And then there’s guidance on things they want to see about soil preservation and biodiversity and things like that. But really codifies that you have to have at least 10% of your farm given over to nature habitat. And we have I think like 20 or 25% of our farms that’s wetland. We have a dry land. We have metal habitat. And then you really view the farm as an ecosystem. You integrate animals and animal manures and you really focus on making your own fertilizers from things you grow on the farm. We make a horsetail tea for mildew control. We make large amounts of compost. And we add these herbal preparations to the compost to aid professors of decomposition. We spray basically a bacterial broth all over the farm that aids the life force if you will in the soil, but basically the soil food web.

Natalie MacLean 40:16
If you liked this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines, tips, and stories we shared. You won’t want to miss next week, but I chat with Adam McHugh, author of Blood from a Stone: A  Memoir of How Wine Brought Me Back from the Dead. He has a great story to tell and some fascinating history between wine and religion. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a wine that’s outside your comfort zone.

Natalie MacLean 40:58
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 Meet me here next week. Cheers.