Why should you pair wine to the diner, not the dinner? Do you always have to follow the “rules” when pairing food and wine? Which fun food and wine pairing should you try with your pandemic snacking? How can you develop your aroma vocabulary?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Chris Scott, a U.K.-based sommelier who published the world’s first-ever wine podcast, the UK Wine Show and who, with his wife, Jane also founded ThirtyFifty, a company which offers fun and no-nonsense wine tastings for private and corporate events.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
- Should you care about food and wine pairing?
- Why should you pair wine to the diner, not the dinner?
- How can you experiment with how different types of food interact with wine?
- Do you always have to follow the “rules” when pairing food and wine?
- When would you use wine to enhance specific characteristics of your food?
- Is food and wine pairing a good place for you to start your wine enthusiast journey?
- What surprising wine pairing should you try with your pandemic snacking?
- Which aspect of wine learning might take some extra work for you as a novice?
- How can you develop your aroma vocabulary?
- What comfort food and wine pairing should you try in 2020?
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I think that the pleasure of wine can be exponentially better when you’re pairing it with food. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
et_box design=”box_16_at” url=”https://nataliemaclean.com/90″ float=”none” author=”Chris Scott” excerpt=”People who don’t really smell things are really missing out on all sorts of layers of intrigue in their own mind.@thirtyfifty1@nataliemaclean”]People who don’t really smell things are really missing out on all sorts of layers of intrigue in their own mind.[/tweet_box]
About Chris Scott
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Transcript & Takeaways
Welcome to episode 90!
Why should you pair wine to the diner, not the dinner? Do you always have to follow the “rules” when pairing food and wine? Which fun food and wine pairing should you try with your pandemic snacking? How can you develop your aroma vocabulary?
That’s exactly what you’ll discover in this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m chatting with Chris Scott, a U.K.-based sommelier who published the world’s first-ever wine podcast, the UK Wine Show and who, with his wife, Jane also founded ThirtyFifty, a company which offers fun and no-nonsense wine tastings for private and corporate events. Chris is again interviewing me on his podcast for this one, as we did last week.
I’ll include links to the wines we tasted and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class — that’s all in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/90.
Okay, on with the show!
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my chat with Chris Scott.
You won’t want to miss next week when I’ll be chatting with Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, which has sold more than one million copies worldwide. Karen is also the former wine correspondent for the Today Show, the first Food and Wine Editor of USA Today, and she has been published in more than 50 newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Town & Country, and Worth. She joins me from her home in Napa Valley next week.
In the meantime, if you missed episode 27 with the San Francisco Wine Columnist Esther Mobley, go back and take a listen. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in the wine tips I shared.
You’ll find links to the wines we tasted, a full transcript of our conversation, and where you can find us on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm, and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class — that’s all in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/90.
Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a wine you pair with the diner, not the dinner!
Natalie MacLean 0:00
I think that the pleasure of wine can be exponentially better when you’re pairing it with food. I liken it to listening to a beautiful Cello Concerto That’s lovely. But when you have the whole orchestra, and they’re in harmony, you have just so much more nuance, complexity, pleasure, diversity. And that, for me is the pleasure of food and wine. So that’s a really macro view of how I view wine and food pairing.
Chris Scott 0:27
Okay, so it seems to be more of an experimental point of view, allowing people to make their own selections with a bit of guidance, is it
Natalie MacLean 0:34
exactly so that’s my starting point. When I teach my online food and wine pairing courses, I always try to say, okay, there’s no one perfect wine for every dish, because people get hung up on it or they don’t want to experiment or that keeps them in the rut of always having the same wine with the same dish. So we need to get past that first. And then beyond that, it is about experimenting.
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? 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 90. Why should you pair wine to the diner, not the dinner. Do you always have to follow the rules when it comes to pairing food and wine? Which fun food and wine pairings Try with your pandemic snacking. How can you better develop your aroma vocabulary? That’s exactly what you’ll discover in this episode of The unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m chatting again with Chris Scott, a UK based sommelier who published the world’s first ever wine podcast, the UK wine show, and who with his wife, Jane, also co founded 3050, a company that offers fun and no nonsense wine tastings for private and corporate events. Chris is again interviewing me on his podcast for this one, as we did last week. I’ll include links to the wines we tasted and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class. that’ll all be in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 90. Okay, on with the show.
Chris Scott 2:56
Hi, my name is Chris Scott, and I’m here with Nikki McLean. How are you Natalie?
Natalie MacLean 3:00
Great, Chris, great to be back with you again.
Chris Scott 3:02
Excellent, excellent. We’re recording this over zoom for the second time now second time now, and I was quite impressed with the sound quality on the first one. So hopefully everything will be all good on this one.
Natalie MacLean 3:12
Terrific. Well, the tech gods are with us. You never know these days with everybody online, but we’re doing well.
Chris Scott 3:18
Yeah, that’s good. So we talked last week a bit about yourself and the different products you have because you do wine courses. You’ve got a podcast. You do a free online wine tasting on Facebook regularly every second Wednesday,
Natalie MacLean 3:31
every second Wednesday at 7pm. Eastern. That’s right. Yeah, we gather and we have a lot of fun.
Chris Scott 3:36
I heard it was on a Wednesday so you could use the hashtag wine Wednesday.
Natalie MacLean 3:40
That’s right. Or Wednesday. Why nose whichever you prefer.
Chris Scott 3:42
Oh, is it Wednesday wine is
Natalie MacLean 3:46
the group named itself.
Chris Scott 3:49
fed up. What I want to talk to you today about is more about food and wine matching because a lot of the communication you have is about food and wine matching. I think You’ve got a offer for our listeners that can download one of your guides on food and wine matching.
Natalie MacLean 4:05
That’s right I’ve got a guy called the ultimate food and wine pairing guide and they can find it at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash UK wine
Chris Scott 4:13
that’s for us is at UK wine so you can track
Natalie MacLean 4:15
it is yes just for your listeners
Chris Scott 4:19
UK why Natalie McCain’s forward slash UK wide so food and wine matching there’s lots of different philosophies I’ve spoken to quite a few different people about food and wine matching over the years. I’ve sort of come across one I quite like that I’d like to just hear about where you come from from a food and wine matching sort of perspective.
Natalie MacLean 4:36
Sure. First of all, I think you pair wine to the diner, not the dinner. Somebody famous said that, not me. But what that means and it really aligns with my philosophy is that drink the wines you love. follow some guidelines about food wine pairing, they’re never strict rules and experiment. Have fun with it. See what happens and trust your own palate. Like calibrate, go back and forth, I think you’ll be amazed at what you can discover. I think that the pleasure of wine can be exponentially better when you’re pairing it with food. To me, I liken it to listening to a beautiful Cello Concerto That’s lovely. But when you have the whole orchestra, and they’re in harmony, you have just so much more nuance complexity, pleasure, diversity. And that, for me is the pleasure of food and wine. So that’s kind of the really macro view of how I view wine and food pairing.
Chris Scott 5:33
Okay, so it seems to be more of an experimental point of view, allowing people to make their own selections with a bit of guidance as it
Natalie MacLean 5:41
exactly so that’s my starting point. When I teach my online food and wine pairing courses, I always try to say, okay, there’s no one perfect wine for every dish, because people get caught up in that they get a little bit nervous or hung up on it or they don’t want to experiment or that keeps them in the rut of always having the same wine. With the same dish, so we need to get past that first. And then beyond that it is about experimenting. Some of the things I do in my classes are, we’ll start with the wine as a baseline. So taste the wine that we have in front of us, there’s a red or white, and then try a squeeze of lemon, and then go back to your wine. And what’s happened to your perception of the taste of the wine, it’s pretty profound, how it will change. I mean, you can do that with like a piece of cheese, a dash of salt, anything, but it starts to isolate how these flavour compounds are working together. And then people think, oh, wow, that’s really different. And they start to think in terms of experimenting with different flavour components. So if there’s a squeeze of lemon, on my soul, my fish dish, maybe a Sauvignon blow would be better because it tastes better than, you know, Cabernet, which is probably going to clash.
Chris Scott 6:56
You’re not that far away from the way I sort of look at it as well. That There’s some things in the food and things in the wine that interact, you know, 70 on blank, the acidity in the fish desensitises your city, so you don’t notice it’s in 70 on blank, and vice versa. So they sort of counteract each other a little bit. And they hide the acidity, so to speak. So there’s different interactions and you’re saying let people crack on with it. Because I always think people’s choices, nature nurture, you know, some of the genetic but some of it’s just personality. Absolutely. The example I did was quite often, when I first got into one trade, you’d hear about food matching, being about complimenting food, and making it all sort of, you know, if you’ve got a no, the classic one is no, something’s hot and spicy. Then you have something a little bit sweet because sugar takes the edge off the heat. That’s a common sort of approach. And I’ve always thought of that as the French approach. You know, everything sort of uncomplimentary to it. And then I went to Hong Kong a few years ago and you know, people are drinking big cabs, sweet dishes and hot spicy food with cab says, What are you doing? And they’re like, well, if I ordered something hot and spicy, I don’t want to drink something sweet and lose a hot and spicy I order something spicy because I want something hot and spicy. So let’s big that up.
Natalie MacLean 8:15
Chris Scott 8:16
that’s a great approach. It’s complete different opposite approach. But you know you’re using the same rules but you land up approaching it from a completely different direction and landing up with the opposite answer. Do you know what I mean? And neither is right or wrong. It’s just that they’re opposites.
Natalie MacLean 8:29
I like that. I like that because that still is aligned with the overall philosophy of drink what you like and go for your own pleasure. So if you want to amp up the spice in the heat, pour fuel on that flame This is exactly what I like that. You know what? You’ve opened my eyes to that too because just because I personally wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be amazing. A great experience for someone else who wants that full on hot chilli flavour.
Chris Scott 8:59
Yeah, it’s not my style. Thinking that but I was quite surprised by that when I heard that, you know, and I was thinking quite often where we think food and wine matches a classic match, someone could very easily say, I prefer the opposite of that. And I started running arguments in my mind after that, and it’s almost every classic match, you can run the opposite argument, if you wanted to.
Natalie MacLean 9:19
Yeah, you could. And I like your nurture versus nature. Because, for me personally, having been tested and found to be a super taster, there are a lot of combinations I don’t like because they’re bitter. But lots of people love the bitter compound. It’s why bitters became popular as a digestive after dinner, but I will steer away from those. I do try to keep that in mind in my pairing courses that my personal taste isn’t for everyone. Everyone finds pleasure in different ways. But I love your example. I’m going to keep that in mind from now on for sure.
Chris Scott 9:52
And I was quite surprised as well. You’re about to release a new one of your video series on pairing of cheese and wine. Is that right? Is it really Do not yet
Natalie MacLean 10:01
it’s coming. So it’s a deep dive into 50 different types of cheeses and pairing them with wine. So perhaps if someone’s listening to this in the future, it’ll be available. But folks want to know they can just come on over to my website. And they’ll, they’ll know when the courses are available. Right now it’s the get wine smart course, which is very focused on food mind pairing
Chris Scott 10:22
those it’s one of the big focuses because you do a lot of food and wine is that what a lot of people are really interested in with your products.
Natalie MacLean 10:28
It is it is I think it’s a great starting point and non intimidating starting point for a lot of people. I think more people love food and feel confident about food and cooking than they do about wine. So I get a lot of foodies coming to my site, because we have recipes and food and wine pairing tools on the site. And from that they start experimenting with wine. Now I also have lots of very big why knows why knowledgeable people, not just novices, I find that they Meet whether you’re really knowledgeable about food or really knowledgeable about wine, you meet in the middle with food and wine pairing. And I think that’s where the fun is, you know, the chemistry and all the combinations and the way that we provide more pleasure for ourselves, but also the way we entertain our friends. And people are looking for that for new ideas and ways to get out of their rut and at least right now during COVID it’s something that they can do at home, in the absence of being able to go to restaurants, and acquit, enjoying it.
Chris Scott 11:30
Yeah, that’s true. Actually. You get to play with it yourself and work it all out. What’s your favourite period at the moment? Is there anything that surprised you in the last few months that you’ve gone? Wow, I wish I’d known that before.
Natalie MacLean 11:41
So I’ve been stalking quite a bit.
Unknown Speaker 11:44
Unknown Speaker 11:46
Chris Scott 11:46
I do. I don’t erase triathlons. I haven’t done really mini training for six months. I hopped on the scales yesterday. Like, wow, they go to Heathrow injection when the Kiwis arrive in the UK because you just get fat and I put on 10 kilos, so it’s pretty
Natalie MacLean 12:02
We’re all gonna have to deal with that. So, but that’s for later when the lockdowns over. So I’ve been trying different little snacks and I’ve discovered a brilliant pairing of cracker jacks. Do you have those caramelised popcorn in the UK?
Chris Scott 12:14
And you can buy caramel? Is it just popcorn? It is. Yeah. I love that. I love that when I call it Cracker Jacks, but it’s just that it’s nice.
Unknown Speaker 12:23
Exactly. Yeah. And I’ve been carrying that with an oak Chardonnay and the balm is so good because
Chris Scott 12:29
i would i would have just gone so 10 straight away for that.
Natalie MacLean 12:33
That’s true. There’s quite a bit of sweetness. But if you get an oak Chardonnay, especially maybe from California that has a bit of sweetness in it because of the oak, like up with the cracker jacks. It’s just great. And you know, I still look for the little prize in the crackerjack box. That’s going back to childhood. So it’s like it brings me right back to those early comforting memories, but this time with wine.
Chris Scott 12:55
Okay, where are you getting the Chardonnay from? Is it quite a right profile?
Natalie MacLean 12:58
It is quite a bright Chardonnay. So it would be like, either a Napa or Sonoma
Chris Scott 13:03
Chardonnay or Australian for Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 13:06
exactly. Australian will do the trick too.
Chris Scott 13:08
Yeah. Okay, so nice big right, Shawn? Okay, I know my promotion team that might go quite well. Oh, we sometimes buy that. But my daughter’s got this amazing recipe of salt and just sugar basically a fat and she pulls it over popcorn, so I might try.
Natalie MacLean 13:24
That’s great. I love that recipe. I must get it.
Chris Scott 13:28
It’s lethal. It’s a must have a bazillion calories in it, but it makes the popcorn so nice. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the cracker jacks but for being able to whip it up. It’s not too bad. Sounds fun. Okay, cracking. Okay, not too bad. Not too bad. What’s the thing that you find your students have the most difficulty with food and wine matching,
Natalie MacLean 13:47
difficulty describing what they’re smelling and wine. So taking the aromas because inevitably people will say, well, this just smells like wine to me. And that’s where a lot of people start
Chris Scott 13:59
some of the most efficient They do say white wine or red wine sometimes and Sure.
Natalie MacLean 14:04
graduating, but just getting them to be more aware of the aromas in their lives. So developing an aroma vocabulary because we don’t use it a lot. I mean, we’re a very visual culture, we have movies and Netflix and all the rest of it. But we don’t pay attention to smell as much as we did you know, back when it was life or death, or the berries could kill the children or whatever I’m talking cave days. So what I do is ask my students to really pay attention to the aromas in their lives. So when you first cut open fruit, or vegetables, take a sniff then because that’s when they’re most pungent. Smell the cinnamon on your toast. You know, smell the leather of your old armchair, just don’t let anybody see you doing it because wonder what the heck you’re up to. But just take a moment to literally smell the roses or anything else in your life and you’ll start to develop that aroma vocabulary and it won’t be so hard As you’re tasting wine, to start to get a sense of what’s coming through the wine to you, and of course, side by side tasting, then the differences in aroma start to leap out at people. So a lot of side by side tasting as well. That’s sort of the beginning students that I teach. But you know, I also teach intermediate, and up to advanced, and we’re trying to get a little bit more nuanced than with what kind of flowers is it? And that sort of thing and going along the spectrum, because I think once you can start isolating aromas, and by extension flavours that ties right into food and wine pairing, because everyone has quite a bit of ease with identifying flavours in a roast chicken, but that Chardonnay and where do those flavours intersect or clap or contrast to your point because that could be what you’re going for. So that’s where it starts.
Chris Scott 15:52
I can see that a lot of people do have problems with smells. They are a particularly tricky thing for a lot of people to grasp. And even myself, you know, even then, because the thing about smell is it’s tied into some of the earliest parts of our brain. So it’s a very old, old sense in terms of things. And it does have weird connections to memory and all sorts of crazy things. So it is a really great thing to play with once you get the hang of it. And people who don’t really smell things are really missing out and all sorts of layers of intrigue in their own mind. Really.
Natalie MacLean 16:26
That’s right. And that’s why you know, Cracker Jacks takes me back to childhood. And that’s why Proust starts a remembrance of things past or Time passed with eating the Madeleine. It’s not even the flavours of the Madeline. It’s the smell that’s taking us right back because as you say, Chris, smell is the only one of our five senses that ties directly to memory in the brain and emotion. And it’s very powerful. You know, I smell some magazines and I’m right back in my grandfather’s porch. So it’s a very evocative if people can learn to just pay attention to the aromas and smells around them. They’ll be surprised not just at what they get out of why but what they get out of life because the memories will come back where they were who they were with all tied to that smell, place time and memory. Yeah, no,
Chris Scott 17:16
no, that’s that’s, that’s very good. That’s vague. I might have to spend a bit more time training people on this mouse because it is quite a fun thing. People quite enjoy learning how to be able to smell things and a lot of people do struggle when we teach in classes. You know, I normally use those nice divan kits, not because they’re particularly accurate, but they give you a reference point to discuss. I’ve gotten numerous of those aroma bar kits and his divan and all sorts of stuff. And they’re all slightly different. Yeah, like each area is different here to a cherry over there, but at least you’re discussing something in the ballpark. And it allows you to have to have a decent discussion. So maybe I need to spend a bit more time thinking about how to help people with that. Good thinking. Anyway, good thoughts.
Natalie MacLean 17:59
Good, good good.
Chris Scott 18:01
What’s your favourite wine and food pairing actually before we let you go, um
Natalie MacLean 18:05
depends on who I’m with and where I am but generally I love Pinot Noir from cool climate regions like hearing Canada or Germany or course burgundy if I can afford it, or cool climate of like Carneros and California. Even New Zealand is lovely. And then with that, I mean it’s just so diverse the food pairings but right now, because of the times we’re in I’m loving comfort foods. So a nice roast chicken with herbs and maybe some spring potatoes would be just the ticket.
Chris Scott 18:41
Lovely. Sounds very nice. So with a still about right, we’re still having roast some Sundays. We’re just starting to lighten them up a little bit because it’s done. The weather has been really nice in the UK for last couple of months. Since Let’s go. Okay, Natalie. I think that pretty much wraps it up. Just before we go though. We’ve done your favourite food pairing, but we’ll So you’ve mentioned at the beginning of the podcast about your food guide, how to people access that again?
Natalie MacLean 19:05
Sure. It’s at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash UK wine after your podcasts there, Chris and it’s my ultimate food and wine guide. Pairing guide has lots and lots of suggestions. They can get it at that link.
Chris Scott 19:19
Perfect. All right, cheers very much Leslie.
Natalie MacLean 19:22
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Chris Scott. You won’t want to miss next week when I’ll be chatting with Karen McNeil, author of the wine Bible which is sold more than a million copies worldwide. Karen is also the former wine correspondent for The today’s show, the first food and wine editor of USA Today, and she has published her articles in more than 50 newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, Town and Country and worth. She joins me from her home. in Napa Valley next week. In the meantime, if you missed Episode 27, with San Francisco wine columnist Esther Mobley, go back and take a listen. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Unknown Speaker 20:14
I used to use a voice recorder when I was doing in person interviews, I stopped doing that a couple of years ago. Maybe I’m wrong, but I sense that people spoke differently when they knew they were being recorded. So I just take notes by hand and then do a lot of follow up if I need to check things. I’m a pretty fast writer. But when you’re driving in the car, usually I’m in the passenger seat. And usually those cases I’m not writing at all, especially if we’re like on a bumpy vineyard read. But I find that it’s those long periods of time when you’re not sitting at a table with wine in front of you kind of intensely tasting. When you have a lot of extra time and you’ve gotten past the big questions and now you’re just kind of chatting. That’s when people open up and I seek out those moments, it can take a lot longer than just picking up the phone and doing a quick interview and frequently that’s all I can do. I love that part time. I really think that’s when the conversation gets rich.
Natalie MacLean 21:18
You’ll find links to the wines that Chris and I tasted a full transcript of our conversation and where you can find me on Facebook Live every second Wednesday at 7pm. Eastern, as well as how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 90. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a wine you pair with the diner, not the dinner.
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially this time Secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash subscribe. We’ll be here next week. Cheers