What makes high tech a great complement to wine? How does humour help when you’re learning about wine? Why is the personal aspect of wine becoming so important?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Bridget Albert and Julie Milroy on their excellent podcast called Served Up.
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- How did I wind up in the non-traditional career of wine writing?
- Which behind-the-schenes stories of the wine world can you explore in my first book, Red, White & Drunk All Over?
- Has the pandemic changed the wine world and the hospitality industry at large?
- What makes high tech a perfect complement to wine?
- Why is messaging and storytelling so important in the world of wine?
- How are stories becoming more powerful than brand names?
- How can you elevate your home dining experience with wine?
- Why does the sensory experience of wine help us to connect and make memories?
- How can you build your confidence with wine when you’re just starting out?
- How does my wine and food pairing course help you to build your wine skills while you’re having fun?
- Why have I doubled down on food and wine pairing?
- How can you have fun with wine on special occasions?
- Which shocking snack and wine pairing do I especially enjoy?
- How does humour help when you’re learning about wine?
Start The Conversation: Click Below to Share These Wine Tips
Smart use of technology can really help wine lovers, as well as the trade. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
We’ve moved beyond blasting everybody with a message about a huge brand. No one wants that impersonal aspect anymore. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
About Served Up
Served Up, hosted by Bridget Albert and Julie Milroy, is a podcast for beverage professionals to advance their skills, customer experiences, and work environments.
Bridget Albert is Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits National Director of Education Beam Suntory and an advocate for upbeat education that makes an impact. She has designed beverage programs and produced trainings for top national accounts that include the Hilton Worldwide Resorts Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Crystal Cruise Line. Bridget is also the co-author of “Market Fresh Mixology” and “Life, Love, Happiness & Cocktails.”
Julie Milroy is Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Vice President of On-Premise and an innovative change leader, sales & marketing executive, career coach, educator and podcast co-host. She has over 15 years of experience in the beverage alcohol industry, spanning various roles in Sales, Human Resources, Marketing, and Commercial Strategy. Julie uses her diverse experiential background to create impact and results that are customer centric and collaborative. As a proud Korean American, Julie is passionate about supporting the AAPI & marginalized communities and empowering women in their career journey.
- Connect with Served Up
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
- My Books:
- My Mobile Wine Apps
- My Wine and Food Matcher
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 85: Sideways Wine Book and Movie: Pinot Noir, Rex Pickett and Yes Merlot
- 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 find so many parallels between books and bottles. I look at some brands and I remember them because of the story behind the wine. It’s as important for me as the wine itself. The wine itself, of course has to be good; but I think every bottle has a story, every book has a story. I’m writing a memoir now and we read books to find ourselves in books. We read a book that’s about losing and finding love again, because we think what’s part of me that’s in that book, and so I think, what’s part of me that’s in that wine. Okay, so you found this bottle on a trip to Italy. How does that tie into my story? Oh, yeah. My parents came from Italy or I know a woman who struggled and professionally rose through the ranks. That’s what’s happening now with the wines and the books that we seek out.
Natalie MacLean 0:52
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 166. What makes high tech a great complement to wine? How does humour help when you’re learning about wine? And why is the personal aspect of wine becoming so important these days? You’ll hear those stories and more during my chat with Bridget Albert and Julie Milroy on their excellent podcast called Served Up. I share stories about my journey as a writer, and drinker.
Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show with the continuing story of publishing my new memoir, can we talk money? When others sign a publishing deal, they are usually paid in advance a certain amount of cash to write the book. If you’re Michelle Obama or JK Rowling, that’s millions of dollars. But for most authors, including me, for the memoir I’m writing right now, we’re lucky if it’s a couple of thousand dollars. This money is not only for the time we’ve already spent writing the book, in my case, a decade, but also for the time we’ll spend editing it before publication, and the time we’ll put into marketing it when it’s published. A couple thousand dollars doesn’t begin to cover time or expenses. The advance is usually paid out in three parts; a third when you sign the deal, a third when the editor says the book is ready for publication, and a third when it’s actually published. The hope is that the book sells well and the author earns royalties, or a percentage on each book sold. That’s usually about 10% of cover price. Most books launch as paperbacks rather than hard covers, which again tends to be reserved for those big names. The average book sells less than one thousand copies. So that’s an average of $1,500 in royalties for a $15 paperback. But before authors collect any royalties, they must first pay the advance back to their publisher. So a $2,000 advance would still be in the hole $500 for sales of 1000 copies. If the book sells, let’s say 2000 copies, then the author would net $1,000. Selling enough copies to pay back your advance to the publisher means you’ve earned out your advance.
If you don’t sell enough copies to earn out your advance, you don’t need to return the money to the publisher. But almost certainly that publisher won’t work with you again. Nor will most publishers in the industry because your book sales numbers are available to all publishers through a software programme called BookScan. So publishing is a tough business financially, unless of course, you’re one of the big names. So for a little fish like me, it’s not about the money, it’s about the message. This book, this memoir I’m writing, has a message in it that I hope gets to as many people as possible, who want or need to hear it.
What do you do in your life that’s not about the money? Let me know. You’ll find a link to the blog post called Diary of a Book Launch where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/166. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know that you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at Natalie, at Nataliemaclean.com.
In the show notes you’ll find my email contact, a link to the post Diary of a Book Launch, the full transcript of my conversation with Julie and Bridget and links to their podcast and website, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find a live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/166. Okay, on with the show
Julie Milroy 5:35
You’re listening to the Served Up show, a podcast that features inspiring beverage professionals and topic experts that share their passions through meaningful content. Your hostesses Bridget Albert is best known as the market fresh mixologist, an industry mentor with over 25 years of experience. And I’m Julie Milroy best known for my passion for leading change, and helping others grow in their careers. Grab a cocktail and sit back, let’s learn how we can make a positive impact in our industry.
Bridget Albert 6:12
It’s Bridget here Julie and I had the pleasure of talking with a talented and celebrated wine pro, the Chief of Wine Happiness, Natalie MacLean. Natalie is an award winning author, the host of the podcast Unreserved Wine Talk and host of an online wine and food pairing video class as well. Now she’s shared with us her journey with wine, some great tips on how to enjoy it, and many of her world travels. Natalie is a bold woman and an inspiration to us all. So fill your glass with some amazing bubbles. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Julie and I are really excited to have you on our show today.
Natalie MacLean 6:55
Oh, I’m excited to be here Bridget, Julie. I wish we were in person, but that will come soon.
Julie Milroy 7:01
Yes, it will,
Bridget Albert 7:02
It will. Can you tell our listeners how did you get your start? Where are you from? And tell us a bit about your background?
Natalie MacLean 7:10
Sure. Well, I think like a lot of people, I didn’t land a career in wine. It wasn’t something that when we went around the classroom at seven, astronaut, Doctor, I’m gonna write about wine. So I pursued a career in marketing and public relations. First, I did an MBA. I was raised by a single mother who told me the importance about being financially independent as a woman. And then I got into high tech. I was based in Canada, which is where I’m from. But I worked for a supercomputer company in Mountain View, California that’s now the headquarters of Google. And I absolutely loved that; it was a very exciting time, the Internet was breaking out. I actually did panel discussions about the power of the internet, you know, back in the Palaeolithic age, that was a headline. But then I had a boy, I was married, I met my husband at MBA school. And we had our son, and I went off on maternity leave. Being a type A, I had taken no vacation and so I wanted to keep my brain alive. Just before maternity leave, I’d taken a sommelier course just for fun, no aspirations to write about it. But I thought, hey, I’ll pitch a local magazine on wine on the internet, and they went for it. And that became a regular column. And so that by the time my maternity leave was over, I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to stay home with my son, but also I love this whole world of wine, and writing.
Julie Milroy 8:27
That is such a wonderful story. And this was all in Canada as you started writing about wine. I do want to let our listeners know, in full disclosure, I found you on the internet. And I was like, oh, that’s Natalie MacLean. And my first wine book when I started kind of exploring wine as a profession was Red, White, and Drunk all Over.
Natalie MacLean 8:50
Yay, thank you. I just had to do that.
Julie Milroy 8:55
And it was such a great first book, because we all know how complicated wine is and how some might say it could be a little pretentious. It’s got like its own vocabulary. And I really appreciated your book, because I was such a new person kind of getting into wine. This is even before I got a job in wine. I think I was like, just serving and just really starting to discover wine. And I just loved how it was just very light and fun. And you know, I’ll never forget how you were kind of showing up at different Châteaux and sipping, and you’re like, I think I’m drunk, but I’m going to keep doing this. You know, I mean, that’s just kind of what I remember from it.
Natalie MacLean 9:35
That’s a good takeaway. And I also, Julie, tried to do a day in the life of. So I became, as you might recall, a sommelier for a night at a fancy five star restaurant to really dig into what is good restaurant service, and what should we expect as a consumer. And then I worked at a wine store, actually two wine stores, one in New York and one San Francisco, to look at strategies for buying wine because I was bringing kind of my MBA background to it. But I love the whole day in the life of aspect. And I think that’s how we learn through storytelling, whether it’s at the Château having one too many sips, or doing these various experiences. And I think that’s what I’ve tried to do in both of my books that I hope resonates not just with beginners, but those in the trade who are, you know, have years of experience still, I think, love the stories behind the scenes.
Bridget Albert 10:24
I couldn’t agree with you more, you know, something that I always say is you either love hot the hospitality industry, or you don’t, there’s no grey area. And the customer doesn’t always understand what goes on behind the scenes and all the effort and the care and the thoughtfulness that it takes to put on that experience, right? For the guests and to make it extra special. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on hospitality and especially what has changed as we are still living through this pandemic.
Natalie MacLean 10:53
So much has changed the way. The way we look at wine, the way we learn about wine, the way we buy wine, whether that’s online. I know, buying wine online has always been available to us. But I think now more than ever, consumers have embraced it and discovered it’s not so difficult to do that. At the same time, I think consumers are learning a lot more about wine have become more educated about wine. I teach online wine and food pairing classes. And I know the influx of people who’ve taken my courses because they needed to find something to do with all that time. But they had to get over that mental hurdle of how do you learn about something that’s so sensory online? What are you going to do? Text me your bottles, but you can get around it. And there’s so many advantages to learning about wine and food pairing online, we can dive into that more deeply. But in terms of what’s changed, I think also for the trade. I mean, I’m in touch with a lot of sommeliers and staff at restaurants, of course, it’s been a very, very difficult time for them. And they too, are looking to sharpen their skills. Be ready. Hopefully now we’re heading back into some resemblance of normalcy, I don’t know. But even restaurant lists have changed, you know, restaurants had to sell off their inventories to just stay afloat. So wine lists are changing, restaurants, service is changing. Consumers are changing. All of this is coming together to create, I think, a new environment for wine professionals and wine consumers.
Julie Milroy 12:22
Yes, it definitely has changed. And I think one thing that it really has done, the pandemic, is really bring out that creativeness that is a part of so many of us in this industry and a different way to connect. I mean, that’s how we kind of came up with Served Up, is how do we connect when we’re virtual, but still make it engaging. So tell us a little bit about your online platform. And being that you had experience in tech, did that help you kind of dive into the industry this way?
Natalie MacLean 12:51
It did. It certainly did. So I started my website in 2000. Again, back in the Jurassic era, when a lot of wineries and agents and so on, did not have websites. So I got in there early. And then I had mobile apps a few years later, I still do I still have mobile apps for your iPhone or your Android. And they scan barcodes as well as front optical label readers to instantly access my reviews and the reviews of Somms and other trade staff who contribute reviews to my site. So it’s quite a powerful tool. But the high tech background was extremely useful. And in some senses, I felt like Okay, I’m coming from high tech. It’s like, if I were to compare it to books, it’s like Brave New World. And that the motto is fail forward fast. Try it, break it, move on learn. Now, I’m going into this wine world where it’s so tradition bound and seemingly moves very slow when it comes to technology. It’s like don’t break it, don’t touch it. And so where can I find the intersection of those two worlds. And I think high tech is a perfect complement to wine. Because as you know, wine is so vast and you can dive headfirst. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, you could structure a liberal arts degree around wine, I mean history, geography, commerce, business, and so on. It’s got this vast amount of information, which makes it both fascinating and overwhelming to some people. But that’s where tech can come in with the right tools. I think like mobile apps, well designed websites and other tools; like I have a food and wine Matching Tool on my site that you could start with the food, start with the wine and get answers to wines that are in stores right now. And where they are, which stores have them. So a good use, a smart use of technology, I think can really help wine lovers as well as the trade
Bridget Albert 14:47
Not that long ago, there were really like two categories of wine, right? You had like Old World or you had New World and there’s so many different categories. So as a consumer, as a wine expert, it can become very complicated because it’s not possible to know every single brand and all of their stories. And also during the time that we’re living in now, I think that the consumer is super self conscious and very, very conscious about where they’re putting their dollar. And yes, including the bars and restaurants and being very thoughtful, and not just going after the big brands for the name, but really that heartfelt story. Can you talk a little bit about that and how messaging is so important when we’re talking about wine and really, truly telling their stories?
Natalie MacLean 15:34
Absolutely. So I find so many parallels between books and bottles, I often pair them on television shows where I’m a guest, because we’re getting back to The Long Tail (https://expertprogrammanagement.com/2012/01/what-is-the-long-tail/), kind of a high techy term, but sort of the search for the artisanal, for the story behind the bottle or the book, and communicating that message more intimately whether it’s through podcasts, or small group tastings on Zoom, or I hope meeting in person in small groups. So I think we’ve moved beyond blasting everybody with a message about a big huge brand. No one wants that impersonal aspect anymore. Everyone wants to say, Hey, I resonate with that story. You know, I look at some brands, and it’s almost I remember them because of the story behind the wine. It’s as important for me as the wine itself. The wine itself course has to be good.
But I think every bottle has a story. Every book has a story. And it’s something that when we share wine with friends and family, of course, we’re sharing the taste, the sensuality, and that sort of thing. But if you can package that up with “Did you know this winemaker came to America with $5 in her pocket, and now she’s running this empire, something like that”. Something that resonates because I’m writing a memoir now and we read books to find ourselves in books. We don’t read to say, Okay, what happened to you, we read a book that’s about losing and finding love again, because we think what’s part of me that’s in that book. And so I think, what’s part of me that’s in that wine. Okay, so you found this bottle on a trip to Italy, where it has this remarkable story of the winemaker, how does that tie into my story? Oh, yeah, my parents came from Italy, or I know a woman who struggled and professionally rose through the ranks. That’s what’s happening now with the wines and the books that we seek out.
Julie Milroy 17:23
Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I think that relatability is really what people look for; that meaningful way that we can relate. And, you know, a thing that we used to always do when I had the privilege of selling vintage Italian wines at one point is we’d always look at the year and say, Okay, what were we all doing during this time? And then we talked about the harvest of that particular area in that year. Was there a lot of rain? Was it super hot, and then we kind of compare it, you could just go on and on and have a deep conversation about that. So that is so beautiful.
Natalie MacLean 17:57
And Julie, that’s why I think one of my favourite scenes in that movie Sideways is when Maya talks to Miles who doesn’t like Merlot, but let’s not go there. And she talks to him about the vintage of the wine they’re discussing. And she says, think about all the people who contributed to this wine. Think of the ones who have died since and what was going on and how many hands have passed through like to create this wine. Even think about victory vintage, 1945, the end of the war, how many people were out there, perhaps in European fields, harvesting the grapes, even as they as they’re being bombed? Like, you know, it’s just so poignant that to go back in time and think, what were they doing? And as you said, Julie, what was I doing to make that connection?
Bridget Albert 18:40
100 percent, something that really happened during COVID and I keep going back to that because we are still to living in this weird time was really at home entertaining. That consumer really tried to bring that restaurant bar experience back into their homes. I know what happened. I’m really on the cocktail side. So I am learning a lot from you today as well. But I know that folks want to recreate those beautiful experience with their friends and family. Can you talk to us about that, just kind of the at home experience when you’re enjoying wine?
Natalie MacLean 19:11
Sure. I think people did find a huge desire to elevate their home dining experience because we couldn’t go to restaurants and we’re at a loss for that sort of hospitality feeling, of being in a restaurant. So what can we do at home? And I think that is a reason why a lot of consumers and the trade, actually lots of Somms, took my courses and continue to, because they’re looking for those special touches that can make an at home meal with wine special. So it of course involves food and wine pairing, but for a whole range of dishes like if it’s spicy, or whatever dishes they want and don’t want just a generic recommendation. Tell me why this works with this dish and this flavour so that I can have that experience when the wine and the food come together and create this sort of flavour cloud in your mouth, that’s beyond what you could have with just the wine alone, or just the food alone, that sort of sensory experiences, what they were searching for, but also the nicer details that make life worth living. I mean, whether it’s the right glassware, the temperature, that sort of thing. And part of me used to think, well, you know, first world problem, but when we’re all working so hard when we’re struggling, when we’re stressed, what are the things that make life enjoyable? What are the counterpoints that say, Hey, restore yourself? You used to do that in restaurants. And of course, the root of the word restaurant is to restore now you need to do it at home. So how can you do that? I think that combination of all of the finer points and the food and wine pairing, just to bathe your senses in something that is absolutely delightful, and gives you a mind and body break from the chaos of the world.
Julie Milroy 20:56
You bring back so many memories, because I started my career really working with a lot of sommeliers. And I tell everybody that I learned about wine through the sommeliers, because I had big shoes to fill, I jumped in a role where I was selling fine Italian wine, knew nothing. And I just learned by tasting by somms and hearing what they had to say. But I remember some moments where we would meet at very, very nice, one of the top Italian restaurants in Miami, and we’d meet at their warehouse, and that’s where I would be able to taste them on wine. George Hawk, if you’re listening was one of my idolised sommeliers because he was just so casual about it, and we would sit down and I’d be like, showing him a couple of wines and be like, I’ve got something you know, and like, whatever, a vintage Barolo or something, we’d be sitting there on boxes in the warehouse tasting. And you’re like, in another world. I mean, I could have been in Italy right at that moment in a winery. And I think that that’s what makes it so magical, especially when you’re exploring wine for yourself, and really understanding your senses and learning or have something that you already learned from that wine or enjoying it with an expert like on your platform, where, like you said, you might not think you can do virtual tastings. But if you’re both tasting a similar thing, and having that discussion, that’s really when that magic happens, right?
Natalie MacLean 22:16
Absolutely. And that connection, that communion, if you will, I mean, wine is so powerful. There’s a reason why I focus just on wine, and not beer, whiskey spirits, no dissing to the other groups of alcohol, but I just find it a slow sensory experience. And of course, we know that smell ties directly to memory in the brain. And memories are laid down with emotion. It’s the best and the worst things that have ever happened to us that we remember the clearest. And so with wine, you’re having this emotional experience that is really laying down that memory. So Julie, when you say you could have been transported to an Italian winery? Well, that’s exactly what the smell can do for you, a la Proust’s Madeleine. I mean, it’s just it’s so powerful. And then online, when you’re sharing those experiences with others from around the world and you’re all feeling like wow. And you’re sharing the emotions, because I think descriptions of liner are an attempt at expressing emotion really, or it should be, that’s, again, when you feel that connection with others through the wine.
Bridget Albert 23:19
I love that so much. Because, you know, just like spirits. I mean, it’s supposed to be a communal emotional pull experience, or when you’re sitting around the table, having those conversations, making those memories. Absolutely. And wine is a category I have to say that can be intimidating to a lot of folks, because there are so many brands, there are so many beautiful labels, you know that if you really don’t know where to start, where do you start with?
Natalie MacLean 23:52
I think you do find a trusted guide, whether that’s a good friend who knows a lot about wine or it could be an online expert, or course, like mine. The way I approach it with those who are really getting into wine is start with the food first, because I think food is so much less intimidating than wine. So all those roast chickens don’t have a vintage chart. And most people don’t get overwhelmed by cantaloupes. So if you can start with the dish, lead with the dish and then go in to wine through that, like what would a recipe involving these ingredients? What would that bring forward in a wine? So let’s experiment and that’s what we do in the classes. It’s like, okay, let’s take this dish, and let’s try three or four different wines and why do they work? Let’s dig down and find out what are the flavour elements and ingredients that are working here, even as simple as lemon versus salt. If you’ve ever done that experiment of you taste the wine. You take a lick of salt and then you go back to the wine. You’ll taste profound differences. It’s your perception of course that’s changed, not the wine, but in the fruitiness, the sweetness of the wine and so on. And when you start playing with elements like that, between food and wine, I think it just opens up a world that’s joyous, not overwhelming, understandable and accessible.
Julie Milroy 25:10
Absolutely. And a lot of that, I think that intimidation of wine that Bridget brings up is because we think that there’s a right and wrong or you don’t want to say the wrong thing or describe the wrong flavour. And it’s really about what you taste and what you explore. And I love doing that. I always tell people when I drink wine, or when I taste wine, I have at least three glasses,
Natalie MacLean 25:34
You’re my kind of woman
Julie Milroy 25:37
At least two, because I’m not going to really understand the full flavour profile of this wine unless I have this one to counteract it. Now I realised this has more raspberries, this one has more earth, you know when and then you have something to compare. You know, I think that’s such a great tip, is st,art with the food. And then try the different wines and see the different flavour profiles. One thing that I used to do with Italian wine, especially, you know, up against so many big flavourful American Napa, California wines, and I’m going in there with an Italian wine that’s like super bitter, super pucker, you know, lots of acidity. And first thing in the morning when somebody is tasting, they’re like, oh my gosh, you know, what is this? So I used to bring a chunk of like Parmigiano Reggiano with me, and just be like, Here, take a piece of cheese first, then drink it. And they’d be like, Oh, my God, this is amazing. Because it’s meant to go with food. So you know, you offer a website that anybody from the novice to the expert can go on, engage, learn, experience, and you’ve really leaned wine and food pairing. So as we come up on the holidays, we’re so happy that you know, summer’s over, what do you suggest for somebody that you know is going to have a small group over and family gathering and they really want to make their special? Maybe their Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner as a wine pairing? Is that impossible to do? Or is there an easy way to do that?
Natalie MacLean 27:08
Never impossible. We’re all here to help, aren’t we ladies? So I treat Thanksgiving in particular, or the Christmas turkey dinner, as I would all the side dishes. So I treat wine like another side dish, and why not have several. Of course it depends on how many you’ve got gathered around the table. But you know, just as we have cranberry sauce and cream corn and mashed potatoes and the Big Bird, why not have a Pinot Noir and Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc and a variety and let people experiment, just as you did, Julie. I think that’s a wonderful way to sort of de risk the whole thing as the host, but also as the guests, just try a little bit each time and until you find something that you like a match, and maybe you’re just going to double down on just the cranberry sauce and the Pinot Noir, if that’s what works for you, again, what we do in the classes, but and even for the trade and sommeliers you know, a lot of the certifications that they take, don’t really dig down into food and wine pairing as much as they’d like, or I’d like and so that is again why that’s my focus. And so for Thanksgiving, I mean, I think it’s the least difficult dinner even though it sounds like it’s the most difficult. It’s the least difficult dinner because just have three or four different wines. You can use Preserve spray, or whatever, if you don’t finish them off, never a problem at our house and just have fun, play with it. It’s that playfulness that we had as children, not with wine, of course, but that we need as adults. It’s not something to get uptight about. I forget who said it, but pair the wine to the diner, not the dinner. If it doesn’t work out have a bun in between bites.
Bridget Albert 28:38
Oh my gosh, what a great quote. That’s awesome. Thanks. Has there been any really kind of a shocking pairing that you’ve have experienced as an expert in this field. Like something like holy cow, I never thought to pair these two things together when it comes to wine and food.
Natalie MacLean 28:56
Yes, through my vast amount of research because I am thorough for my readers and listeners. Cool Ranch Doritos and Zinfandel. Brilliant, really brilliant. So you can cut the spicy cheesiness. it’s like having nachos. I guess perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising. And then there’s juicy red wine that doesn’t have a lot of tannin. It’s got the full bodied heft because we’re always looking at three aspects right flavour, weight and texture. But those two are just a marriage made in heaven. And then I also like Twizzlers, red licorice with Framboise, a raspberry dessert wine. Not everything I eat is junk food, but I just love having fun with the shabby chic, high low kind of rhinestones on jeans, kind of champagne popcorn potato chips. You’ve probably heard of those kinds of combos that I find work but again, the research is vast. I’m only at the beginning but I’m willing to go there with even more in the future.
Bridget Albert 29:47
I’m so glad that she went there because a lot of times wine can be intimidating, like I said or perceived as stuffy but it doesn’t have to be I mean look bite both ends of a Twizzler and stick it in your wine. See what happens, use it as a straw right I don’t even want to go there. But I’m just saying, like you’re making it so approachable. Yeah, it can be approachable and it should be approachable and not so intimidating. So thank you for sharing those pairings. It’s really fun.
Natalie MacLean 30:13
And you know, approachable doesn’t have to mean dumbed down. You don’t have to speak down. I mean, a lot of most of the consumers readers listeners I have, they’re very educated, they may not want to spend as much time putting down a tasting note as we might in the industry. But making it accessible doesn’t mean as I say, dumbing it down. It just means thinking carefully about how you’re positioning the wine, the pairing, being compact, not being too wordy, getting right to the point for them, but still having a sense of humour. Humour is so so important in wine, I think. We’re most receptive about learning anything, wine, anything, the moment after we finished laughing, we relax, or, you know, we’re listening. We’re leaning forward, we’re having fun, we can’t learn in a fear, kind of crouchy position. So humour for me is condensed intellect, you have to make that jump together. And it just opens up everybody and relaxes everybody. So I also think that’s part of making wine accessible is humour.
Julie Milroy 31:14
I agree, and I just commend so many leaders in the industry like yourself, and many of them women, coming into the wine industry, where I feel in my experience, those barriers have come down because of that relatability with wine and being able to be exposed through Southern (Southern Glazer) with a lot of our Master Sommeliers, that are women, that work with us, and you hang out with them. And it’s so down to earth, and it’s really just about the wine. And it doesn’t have to just be about the expensive wine. It’s really understanding what that wine is, and what that is giving. Tell us a little bit about your website and how people get involved. Because I know you’ve got I mean, God, like over 300,000. How many members do you have? Do you have a lot?
Natalie MacLean 31:57
Yeah, there’s a lot of thirsty people out there. So I have 302,000 subscribers to my free newsletter, and there are over 300,000 wine reviews. So that’s not just me, or I’d be dead, or my liver would be shot at least. But I have as I say the wine community contributes reviews, so sommeliers, those in the trade, and they’re terrific. I love it. There’s a lot of reviews, a lot of pairings, a lot of tools like the mobile apps, are also free. The matcher tool that I mentioned, there’s a whole lot of recipes on there with wines paired as well, but it’s all at Nataliemaclean.com, it’s just my name to find it and of course, the podcast Unreserved Wine Talk.
Natalie MacLean 32:41
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Julie and Bridget. In the show notes, you’ll find my email contact, a link to the post Diary of a Book Launch, a full transcript of my conversation with Julie and Bridget, and links to their podcast and website, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/166. Email me if you have a sip question or want to be a beta reader of my new memoir at Natalie at Nataliemaclean.com. You won’t want to miss next week when I continue my chat with Bridget and Julie. I share stories about my journey as a writer and drinker, and some teasers about my upcoming memoir. In the meantime, if you missed episode 85 go back and take a listen. I chat about tips for writers with Sideways author Rex Pickett. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite
Unknown Speaker 33:43
To want to like wine, and want to understand it on an educational level or even be erudite about it, I don’t find that to be snobbery. I think that just like being passionate about anything and what you can and the wonderful thing about wine is it’s a bottomless ocean of mystery. sommeliers can’t even master it and then every year is different Natalie and you can’t master it and I love that fact about it.
Natalie MacLean 34:14
If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines and stories we discussed. 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 a backstory that resonates with you
Natalie MacLean 34:38
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!