Pandemic’s Positive Impact on Wine + Buying Wine Online with Cathy Huyghe and Andrea Smalling



How has the pandemic positively impacted the wine industry? Why is the percentage of women buying online rising faster than men? How do consumers benefit when wine producers have access to more and better data?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Cathy Huyghe and Andrea Smalling, authors of the WineDirect x Enolytics 2021 Direct-To-Consumer Impact Report: What Wineries Need to Do Now.

You can find the wines we discussed here.


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  • Which interesting trends have been identified when it comes to Gen Z drinking habits?
  • What can wine brands do to engage younger generations?
  • Which positive trends stood out in the DTC report?
  • How did the pandemic impact online DTC sales?
  • Has the lifting of lockdown restrictions negatively impacted online DTC sales?
  • Why should consumers be excited about the growth of the online side of the wine industry?
  • What are the implications of the DTC report for the Canadian wine scene?
  • How did Canadian wineries quickly adapt to the new environment of the pandemic?
  • What would be the benefits of opening the borders to shipping wine across provinces in Canada?
  • How does having more data and more granularity benefit everyone from wine consumers to producers?
  • Why are more women purchasing wine online than men?
  • What are Andrea & Cathy’s ideal settings for having a glass of wine?
  • Which controversial wine opinions do Cathy & Andrea have?
  • Which childhood foods would be fun to pair with wine today?
  • What was Andrea’s worst food and wine pairing?
  • Which great historical figures would Cathy & Andrea love to share a bottle of wine with?
  • What message would Andrea & Cathay share if they could put up their own billboard downtown in a big city?
  • Which wine would Cathy & Andrea want to be served at their funerals?


Key Takeaways

  • At least there were some upsides to the pandemic on the wine industry in terms of moving it forward with selling online and tightening direct connections between those who make wine and those who drink it.
  • I found it fascinating that the percentage of women buying online is rising faster than men. It makes sense though given women still buy most household items.
  • Getting granular on the data means getting more personal with consumers in terms of their experience in buying the wine whether that’s in person at the winery or online.

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About Andrea Smalling & Cathy Huyghe

Andrea Smalling & Cathy Huyghe have recently co-authored a ground-breaking report on the wine industry that will be of interest to those who make, sell and buy wine, from wineries to consumers.

Andrea Smalling is Chief Marketing Officer and Head of E-Commerce Sales of WineDirect, a U.S.-based company that helps wineries sell directly to consumers. Andrea began her career in Toronto with Procter & Gamble, then moved to California to join Gallo Winery, where she worked before moving on to take executive marketing roles with Constellation Brands, Treasury Wine Estates, Foley Family Wines and Mark Anthony Group before joining WineDirect in 2021.

She graduated from the honours business administration program at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, and now lives with her family in Livermore, California, where she enjoys food and wine, fitness and all things pop culture.

Cathy Huyghe is an award-winning journalist with a regular column in Forbes and co-founder and CEO of Enolytics, a data-driven business intelligence company for the $970 billion wine and spirits industry. She’s also co-creator of A Balanced Glass, which gives members of the industry tools to manage their personal wellness. In 2021, she was named one of the industry’s Most Inspiring People by the Wine Industry Network. She’s a two-time graduate of Harvard University and is certified to teach hatha yoga, mindfulness meditation, and Ayurveda. She now lives with her family in Atlanta, Georgia.



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Andrea Smalling 0:00
The industry as a whole has been saying we saw about 10 years growth in a period of two years. So it just accelerated everything and it’s an exciting time for DTC

Natalie MacLean 0:09
got us to the future faster than we thought. Do you think it’s going to stay at that growth?

Andrea Smalling 0:14
So we wanted to look at through 2021 when things were opened again to see what that did to the results. And what we saw was that that growth continued, wine sales spiked considerably, e-commerce wasn’t necessarily as high as it was, but the DTC industry as a whole continue to grow. So we have no reason to think that with the right care from the wineries that consumer behaviour is going to continue.

Natalie MacLean 0:46
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? 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 178. How has the pandemic positively impacted the wine industry? Why is the percentage of women buying wine online rising faster than it is for men? And how do consumers benefit when wine producers have access to more and better data? You’ll hear those stories and more in Part Two of our chat with Andrea Smalling, Chief Marketing Officer at Wine Direct, and Cathy Huyghe, Forbes wine columnist and CEO of Enolytics. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week first, but I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after you finish this one. Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show with the continuing story of publishing my new wine memoir Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression, and Drinking too Much. “How does the witch theme tie into your book?” one of my online course students asked me recently. “I don’t really see you as a witch,” she said. My journey and my memoir changed the way I looked at both witches and myself. Not all witches are bad. Think of Glinda the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz or Samantha Stevens in Bewitched.

I posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the show notes at This is where I share more behind the scenes stories about 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 that you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at [email protected] In the show notes, you’ll also find my email contact the full transcript of my conversation with Cathy and Andrea, links to their report and their websites, 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 Okay, on with the show.

And Gen Z, what trends have been reported generally, even apart from your study. Is that part of the new hope that they like wine and they’re buying it?

Andrea Smalling 6:08
So we are definitely seeing that I would call them for now very equal opportunity drinkers, because they’re also drinking a lot of cocktails, they’re trying a lot of different things. There’s also some data that’s suggesting that and it’ll be interesting to see if this sticks, but low alcohol, no alcohol ones are definitely becoming more popular among this crowd. And it’s something that throughout my career I’ve seen that kind of pop every once in a while but never really stuck. But this seems to be the first time that it is grounded in something that seems like it’s going to last a while, that whole idea of we don’t want to be fall down drunk, we want to enjoy ourselves, but we just want to kind of keep it together and be good the next day, feel healthy. So that’s going to be really interesting. But you know as both Cathy and I say meet them where they are, you know, offer them what they want at this moment in their lives. So make sure you’re speaking in a way that’s approachable, but not patronising to them, but also offering those more appealing prices. Because a lot of them it’s trial phase, and they don’t want to, you know, try with $150 Napa Cabernet necessarily. So making sure that there’s offerings that are going to get them engaged with your brand, but then also understanding that I think it’s natural that over time your tastes change. I mean, I laugh because Gallo hired me partially because I was young. And at that point in 1994 there was already the whole idea of young people and drinking wine. And I was drinking whites zins and maybe coolers. But now I love it. So over time, I think your tastes evolve. And I think that’s going to happen with these generations as well. But I think it is incumbent upon the wineries as well to recognize who they are now and speak to them in a way that’s going to get them to engage over time.

Natalie MacLean 7:51
Yeah. So the rise of Gen Z and younger drinkers is part of your optimism. But we’ve heard a lot of, as you’ve even said, in your report, doom and gloom about the wine industry on the decline. So how did this report give you hope? Maybe the first question should be how much did online or direct to consumer business increase over the last five years or over the pandemic, however you want to frame it?

Cathy Huyghe 8:17
What we’re seeing for sure is that this is one piece of the wine industry, the DTC features of wine industry. There’s a lot that’s not analyzed here, right, and we don’t claim to be analyzing it. But the three tier system, the wholesale system, that’s an entirely additional part of the industry. But within DTC specifically, what we are seeing is decidedly positive. We have reasons to feel positive about the future, when we’re looking at when we’re talking about DTC. One aspect of that, and this sort of goes back to dovetail really nicely, Natalie, with our conversation at the beginning about wellness, and lower low alcohol drinks, not wanting to be drunk at the end of the night. Those I think are playing into the conversation as well. And I don’t think it’s such a bad thing, but they are  being more aware of alcohol consumption. The question is, are there going to still buy or can we reach more consumers so that the volume is still going to be accounted. If not necessarily trumps volume across more people, if not necessarily the people who are already engaged keep buying more. A horizontal versus vertical question maybe at some point. So I think that those factors, especially if you have wellness and drinking baths, but also you know, experimenting with other things, experimenting with spirits, because you know, the theory or the ideas out there that sort of tests, fewer calories. And so something like that, though, how’s the wine industry going to learn to respond to that? What kind of information are we going to be able to communicate around? Whether that’s true or not true. Or how are we going to engage the people who want a healthy lifestyle? Those I think are some of the questions for the future that we need to engage.

Unknown Speaker 10:03
Yes, absolutely.

Natalie MacLean 10:04
So what did you see roughly speaking for? I know, online is just probably one part of DTC. But however you want to frame it again, what kind of jump did DTC make, say, from the beginning of the pandemic, to now from 2017?

Andrea Smalling 10:18
So the duration of our study is the five year period that accumulated growth was 53% for DTC. And interestingly, if I had a graph, I could show you but if you take the growth from 2017, to the beginning of the pandemic, it was on a growth trajectory. And then you see a jump. And it’s really interesting. So what we’ve been saying, in general, I think the industry as a whole has been saying, we saw about 10 years growth in a period of two years. So if we had just straight line that we would have been at a certain level, and we’re really where we would have been 10 years from now. So it just accelerated everything. And I think there’s a tonne of reasons for that. But it’s an exciting time for DTC for sure.

Natalie MacLean 10:58
Wow, got us to the future faster than we thought. And so also just sort of reading through your report, do you think it’s going to stay at that level or at that growth? Why don’t you think that’ll sort of backtrack as things open up tasting rooms and that sort of thing?

Andrea Smalling 11:17
Yeah, I was thinking about this report. And I think the reason why we were thinking about doing it at the same time that Cathy and the Enolytics team was thinking about doing it is because things had started to open up again. So the pandemic, whether it will ever be officially over, I don’t know if we can say that. But for the most part, things have opened up again. So we wanted to look at through 2021, when things were opened, again, to see what that did to the results. And what we saw was that that growth continued. So if you dig into the numbers, you see that on site wine sales spike considerably, e-commerce wasn’t necessarily as high as it was. But the DTC industry as a whole continued to grow. So we have no reason to think that with the right care from the wineries, that consumer behaviour is going to continue.

Cathy Huyghe 12:02
Yeah. And I think to that, the idea is to continue on with this report, we’ve seen Q1 numbers for 2022. So we’ll be able to keep up to date, and be able to really follow that very carefully. I think big picture though, the world is different now than it was pre-pandemic. The wine industry was slow to adopt technology, but boy, especially the DTC teams, I feel like they need a shout out is that they say they had to they had to be in there, they had to be on it. They weren’t seeing foot traffic. So now what? So websites got better. The whole the entire initiative to sell online online, is metamorphosed. And it’s very serious, rapid way because of the pandemic. And so now customers consumers know, I don’t know that we, I would say we spoiled them but the wine industry now has set a new bar for itself when it comes to selling online. And I feel like that is going to continue, that’s going to fuel this trend of e-commerce not slowing down. I think that’s a big reason why it’s going to stick.

Natalie MacLean 13:06
Wow. That’s encouraging.

Andrea Smalling 13:08
We still have a lot of space to grow. If you look at fashion, for example, online, about 25% of their total sales are online wine is still 10%. So there’s still a lot of runway to continue to grow. The other thing that I found so interesting is that much of that growth during the pandemic was from repeat buyers that actually shocked me, which tells me that there is still a lot of work to be done to bring new buyers into the understanding of how to buy wine online. And that just again, creates more potential to grow.

Natalie MacLean 13:41
That’s fascinating. Because although this is a very industry specific report, I think it’s good news for consumers if more and more especially smaller wineries get online, and you can get those wines that you just have no hope of finding in your local liquor store. This wine is all about the amazing, diverse world of taste. So I think even those who are listening to this who just love wine should be excited about these kinds of trends that you’re unearthing definitely. So let’s talk a little bit about Canada specifically. Yay, go Ontario.

Natalie 14:17
You’re almost there, Cathy. We’ve almost got you in here for honourary Canadian. Yes, yes, yes. We’ll get there. So as you’re probably more familiar with our system here, Andrea, and that, you know, we’ve got the provincial liquor boards. And for the most part, they’re highly regulated across the country. There are a few provinces where it’s less so like Alberta. But what are the implications, if any of this report for the Canadian wine scene?

Andrea Smalling 14:44
Well, there’s a few implications. So the regulatory aspect of it aside, there’s a few things that were really interesting to me in the Canadian results, and one is that during the pandemic, for example, the Canadian wineries grew DTC much faster faster than the American wineries. So the 2020 results were huge in Canada and then kind of levelled off a little bit. Whereas in the US, it kind of just gradually rose and continued to rise through 2021. And really interestingly, the level of discounting in Canada was negligible. So it seems like the US and completely generalizing, but the US wineries kind of had that moment of panic of Oh, my gosh, restaurants are closed, I’ve got all this wine, what do I do? I’m going to discount. Like that’s kind of the immediate thought in terms of how do I spur up some sales. Whereas the Canadian wineries, their level of discounting was, I think, 5%, which was tiny compared to the US, and also compared to Australia. So that was really interesting. I’d love to know, I know Mark Anthony Group, which I, you know, worked with up in the Okanagan, and I know some of the things that they did that kind of support those findings. And I think there are things that the US wineries can learn from what they did for sure. In terms of growing the business long term.

Natalie MacLean 15:56
My only hypothesis on discounting would be that pricing has been so regulated in Canada, in terms of very small discounts. And all these government owned liquor boards have a socially responsible mandate. So you’re not going to say buy one case, get another one and have a happy weekend. That might be it. But I’m curious as to why you think even if it’s speculation why Canadian wineries embraced online commerce faster than the Americans, because we think of the Americans is more entrepreneurial in a lot of ways.

Andrea Smalling 16:28
Exactly. And I, you know, again, this is my own personal experience. But online shopping in general I feel is more developed in the US than it is in Canada. So it really did surprise me. So I will say it’s a combination of it is DTC in total. So I think it’s a combination of online but also visitation. And I think, in Canada, the winery areas are so condensed that I think the visitation aspect of it continued for as long as it possibly could. But then they did a really good job of kind of turning quickly to experiences. So I know, Mission Hill, which is a winery I worked with up in Canada, you know, very quickly pivoted and said, Okay, so we’re not going to have this acting as almost a national park, because in the past, you’d have hordes of people. And they come and they look around, and it’s lovely, and they leave. And they turn to really develop some wonderful experiences that they charged a lot of money for. And as a result, they did bring in buyers who came had the experience purchased a lot of wine, and their business results really, really went through the roof as a result. And I think a lot of the Ontario wineries did the same thing. I think they just were able to kind of pivot really quickly and embrace that idea of, you know, the experience, which you know, ultimately ideally leads to some online sales too.

Natalie MacLean 17:43
Yeah, and I think the fact they’re small would help that. And somewhere I was reading, they kind of turned winery tasting rooms into a restaurant like experience. You made reservations. You paid more. It wasn’t a free for all tasting bar, you sat down, you might get to talk to the winemaker. So yeah, that’s cool.

Andrea Smalling 18:00
So it’s a better experience for everyone. And I think sales increase as a result.

Unknown Speaker 18:05
Hmm, interesting. Yeah, it’s a better experience.

Cathy Huyghe 18:07
And this is to also add to the conversation, which is that Canada and Australia, both are represented in this report that with sort of a like hat tip to say, like, there’s more to come.  There will be a Canada specific report. There will be Australia specific report. It’s not the scale that is in the US. But we also don’t want to just say it’s negligible. It’s certainly not right. And so there are more reports coming and one of them will be specifically about Canada.

Andrea Smalling 18:35
Exactly. Excellent. Do you mind if I cycle back? I didn’t answer your question about the borders and the stripping across provinces? Because I do think that’s a massive opportunity for Canada. And of course, as it turns out, I don’t have an in on the Canadian government. But what I would suggest is, from what I understand federally, it’s allowed, but the provinces are the ones who are kind of stopping it. Yes. And I think your point about the smaller wineries is a big one. And I think if we could implore them to support the smaller wineries, because it’s hard to get a listing in the LCBO.  It’s hard to get a listing in the BCLCB. And these guys are struggling to sell their wine. So if we can open up those borders, and let them reach out and sell their wines, it’s not going to take away from what’s going on in the LCBO. The LCBO will be just fine. It would just be nice to be able to kind of help them understand that that’s an opportunity.

Natalie MacLean 19:25
Exactly, because they don’t even make enough to fill those big channels. Like it’s not a matter of being snubed or it is not the right price. It’s like the volume is not there. And yet again, in the wine industry. Small is beautiful. Like if you got a little artisanal boutique winery out in BC and I want it here in Ontario.

Andrea Smalling 19:42
Yes, yes. It’s good for tourism. Because you know, if people would love to go visit a winery, knowing that they can then you know, engage and have it shipped back home. I mean, there’s so much opportunity. I think it will come eventually. I think it’s just a matter of time but it’d be nice if it happened sooner rather than later.

Natalie MacLean 19:57
And it has to Andrea because I think wine is the most value added products we make in the agricultural sector. There’s no other product we put on the table that I can think of in its original packaging. You know, we don’t have the stickers of where the apples came from. But everyone wants to see the label of the wine. So many hands have gone into it. And it has so much spin off economic potential that these borders have to come down.

Cathy Huyghe 20:24
They really do. They really do. Yeah, I’m looking forward to doing very much the Canada reports, and specifically, this slice of the tasting room or cellar door channel in Canada. So being able to see kind of the breadth of that going back five years. And when Andrea. The thing about why the numbers are what the numbers are in Canada, I think that makes so much sense. And so that’s really kick the tires of what the numbers say about that. That will be of interest to certainly wine growers in Canada, but also tourism in Canada. I feel like that has skin in the game as well.

Natalie MacLean 20:59
Absolutely. And I would think it’d be of interest to legislators who are trying to support their grassroots industries, literally grassroots, it has so much economic potential that I think it should be of interest to a lot. I mean, there’s been groups like free my grapes established that are consumer driven. So having the data to back that up would be very powerful. Definitely. So can’t wait for that Canadian report. Get on it.

Cathy Huyghe 21:28
In your inbox, yes, then it’s coming.

Natalie MacLean 21:31

So what do you foresee to be future trends? What do you see now that okay, so DTC is going to continue to increase anything else you’re predicting if anything, based on the findings so far,

Cathy Huyghe 21:45
I think that one of the things that this report I hope has done and communicated is the power of data, not just in terms of kind of insights and sort of sweeping sort of takeaway in my opinion, but really being able to drill down into the granularity of it and making it relevant by winery to state by state to metro area by metro area. I feel like that’s been not only like a lightbulb that’s gone off, but kind of, in some ways, like a lightning bolt. And that I feel is one of the things that’s going to continue as well. Now that people can see what’s possible, we’re hearing a lot of feedback in terms of so if you’ve done this, can you also do this? And if you know, now that this has happened, can we also look at this other thing. And so I feel like sort of the for the future, and kind of looking ahead, not only definitely from the analytics perspective. There’s just so much, I think, implications around the power of the technology, to offer value to the wine industry, a level both of breath, that 200 million data set record from Wine Direct, as well as granularity in terms of being able to slice and dice to a really specific level that makes it highly relevant. To me, that’s, I think, going to be one of the game changing things going forward.

Andrea Smalling 23:04
I agree. Yes.

Natalie MacLean 23:06
And I think when we talk about granularity, you know, it’s a business term that we all know and use frequently. But as a consumer, the way that translates to me is more personal experience. Like if you can get granular with the data that means you know me better. That means I’ll have a better experience. When I come visit you, when I buy from you, you will know me like my favourite restaurant knows no olives, sparkling water, not still, and probably 27 other things. They probably got me on the high maintenance list, but that’s okay. I like it. But that’s what you can do with granularity is really personalize.

Andrea Smalling 23:43
Yes. That’s what I think is so fun about, you know, analytics is really on the forefront of pushing how we use data and getting more robust, more granular. And what’s fun about it is it doesn’t take away from the things that we all love about the wine industry. So it’s not like all of a sudden, wineries are going to turn into the Gap or Banana Republic. It’s going to your point, just make the experiences that much better. And all the data is going on back here. But you’re still going to have that wonderfully curated, personal, lovely experience that we all really want in a winery. And I think that’s really nice.

Natalie MacLean 24:18
Absolutely. So good.

Cathy Huyghe 24:19
I love that it’s sort of then just to sum that up, I think that’s a great way to say it. All this data that’s happening is ultimately servicing the customer. Yes, exactly. And lets give the consumer a better experience by using data sort of running in the background. But if it can ultimately benefit that person’s experience and help them save as consumers longer, or more deeply, if that makes a man.

Natalie MacLean 24:44
I forgot to ask the question I was curious about so it’s upstream of that, but I don’t want to miss it. Why is the percentage of women purchasing online going up faster than men? I was curious about that.

Cathy Huyghe 24:59
Yeah. Good question. I think that we have probably hypotheses about that, Andrea.

Andrea Smalling 25:04

So I have a couple of hypotheses. So one of them is in the way that the data is reported. And that is that club members, for the most part, whether they’re purchasing online or in the tasting room, hit the club channel. And what we see is that men are over represented in club membership. And women are more representative in that just I’m going to the website to buy wine. And that’s what I’m doing. So I think part of it is in the way that the data is reported. But then also, I think it is the growth of the younger generations, and I’m going to completely over generalise here. But back in the day, men were making those wine purchases, and they were the collectors and they’re buying the bottle of wine to lay down for 10 years. And you know, that whole aspect of I’m laughing because I’m seeing the boomers, and I’m only four years out of it, but let’s call it that was traditionally kind of how wine buying worked. And I think over time, women are getting much more involved in those purchases they’re buying for themselves are buying for themselves and their friends, and they’re buying for the family. And I think that is just that kind of natural change that we see in terms of how women are purchasing. Interesting.

Cathy Huyghe 26:16
It’s really clear in the data, Natalie, that women spend less like sort of the average price per bottle for women is less than the average price for men. But women do buy more frequently.

Natalie MacLean 26:28
So we make up in volume what we miss on the individual price points. Oh, wow. That’s fascinating.

Andrea Smalling 26:35
I take that as we have more fun because we buy the wine and we drink it, and then we buy some more wine. I think that’s good.

Natalie MacLean 26:40
Yeah. As opposed to buying a trophy wine, if you will, and laying it down in the cellar.

Andrea Smalling 26:45
Laying down and waiting for that special occasion before you open it. And yes, exactly.

Natalie MacLean 26:50
And we are still for better or worse the social conveners, the family dinner organisers, you know, all the rest of it.

Unknown Speaker 26:59

Cathy Huyghe 27:00
The person who’s organising the family budget, yeah. Doesn’t want to, you know, had $200 on a bottle of wine.

Andrea Smalling 27:06
Yes. Yes.

Natalie MacLean 27:08
All right. Is there anything else you want to add about the report before we go into what I call the lightning round, which is just fun and more about your personal preferences. Anything that we missed about the report that you wanted to add?

Cathy Huyghe 27:20
I think it’s just exciting. It’s an exciting moment, it is an exciting moment to start pulling out the insights that have been with us all along.

Natalie MacLean 27:28
Yeah. And you’ve got a future series of seven reports or something coming down the pipe, but including a focus on Canada, so that’ll be excellent.

Unknown Speaker 27:37
Yes. Well, yeah,

Cathy Huyghe 27:38
No pressure on the whole Canada.

Natalie MacLean 27:44
Please email both of them now if you’d like to know more about our market. All right, for each of you, what is your ideal setting for having a glass of wine?

Andrea Smalling 27:56
For me, it’s the end of the day and of the work day. Well, I’m making dinner that is my kind of transition into even though I might get online later, like it’s that transition and to just relax, walk away from the computer for a little bit, enjoy a glass of wine, make some dinner.

Cathy Huyghe 28:14
I’m such a better cook when I have a glass of wine in my hand. It is unbelievable. Such a better cook. You know, I definitely love drinking wine with friends. But there’s something to be said as well for having just like a contemplative glass of wine by myself. I just take an hour to drink a glass. Happy to. Yes.

Natalie MacLean 28:33
Very nice. And let’s see. Is there something that you believe about wine with which some people might disagree?

Andrea Smalling 28:41
Well, I will say for me, I am very much an equal opportunity drinker. And I believe that there’s good wine at literally all price points. So I’m spoiled because I get to drink a lot of wonderful wines that are very expensive, but I believe very strongly that you can find really nice wines that are significantly less expensive and enjoy them just as much. Yeah.

Cathy Huyghe 29:07
And for me, I think a friend who refers to it as Chateaux Cardboard. He talks about not getting invitations over to people’s houses for dinner, because they think that they just have to serve him this great wine. But actually, he is be flattered, and I agree with him others. he’s flattered when somebody will serve him the Chateau Cardboard so to speak, because that means that they don’t think you are a snob.They are comfortable. Yes, yes, they’re comfortable. There’s a level of familiarity around.

Natalie MacLean 29:37
I agree. It is a lonely life when everyone thinks they cannot bring wine to your house or that similarly can’t invite you over because of the wine, but the only exception I have had to make for that is a homemade wine that was not well done. So I have a well watered fern in the corner.

Andrea Smalling 29:57
Definitely, yes.

Natalie MacLean 29:59
Are any childhood foods that you can remember that would be fun to pair with wine today?

Cathy Huyghe 30:05
So I come from a family that’s descended from Polish and Tyrolean immigrants. And my mom would make, it’s basically the cuisine is anything with potatoes and water and butter if you have it. Like no salt, just because water. And one of the things that they make, it’s called luksha. And it’s basically mashed potatoes and water and boiled out into kind of like, it’s almost like a chapati. And toasted in butter back and forth. And it’s extremely heavy and extremely buttery. You eat like two and you’re done for the day. But I feel like a wine pairing would be like, just this sleek, white wine that has a lot of acidity to just kind of counterbalance all the heaviness of that. For me once I got a smell of childhood, is that butter and that potato and that kind of cooking coming together? Yes. And we didn’t have wine in the house. Like just wasn’t part of it. But now if I would ask my mom to make that. That’s what I’d want to have on the table is a Gruner Veltliner. You know, something really, really brief. In terms of yes.

Natalie MacLean 31:05
Sounds great. Andrea, do you have one?

Andrea Smalling 31:08
Yes. So for me, my family is Canadian for generations, but my husband’s family and we met very young is Jamaican, and so there was a lot of curry curry chicken, a lot of spicy foods, and they weren’t big wine drinkers. We were teenagers at the time. So we weren’t drinking wine. But now I love to kind of play with what wines will actually pair appropriately with the curry or like jerk chicken like very heavily spiced foods. And it’s kind of similar to what Cathy saying, but I love the Gewurztraminer. That’s kind of been my go to and it’s hard to find here. There’s not enough of them. But that’s kind of been my go to with any kind of spicy food and it’s just a lovely combination. For sure.

Natalie MacLean 31:50
It is. It’s so exquisite. Yeah, having one last night from Grey Monk in BC and it was just so beautiful about wine. Oh, the rose petals, the lychee. I know it all sounds stereotypical. But it’s so amazing. Wonderful, like drinking a bouquet of flowers but really good.

Andrea Smalling 32:06
Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Cathy Huyghe 32:09
OK Canada wine. I want to try.

Andrea Smalling 32:14
Beautifulness we need to go to the Okanagan and plan on meeting in real life. Exactly.

Natalie MacLean 32:19
Absolutely. Is there a weird food and wine pairing you’ve ever had? Maybe it worked.

Cathy Huyghe 32:24
Maybe it didn’t.

Andrea Smalling 32:25
I can say a really bad one that I had early in my career that is so in California, and especially with Gallo red Zinfandel, which we call it back then because there was also whites and reds and reds Zinfandel was kind of everywhere. But we were also eating a lot of kind of spicy or Asian foods. And as it turns out, a red Zinfandel paired with some kind of Asian food is terrible compensation. Because you just have this mouthful of pepper. It was like you can’t taste the wine. You can’t taste the food. It’s just enough. Pepper. Oh, wow. Yeah, that was a learning experience for sure.

Cathy Huyghe 33:00
Actually going to say a very similar thing, in the sense of like red wine and Asian food, especially like egg rolls. I feel like anything almost with soy sauce. Yes, is just not a good idea. Just don’t do it. Don’t do it.

Natalie MacLean 33:14
That’s really hard. Especially if you get any sweetness to the dish, will really do a job on your wine, your mouth will not be happy.

Andrea Smalling 33:23

Natalie MacLean 33:24
If there’s someone outside of the wine world, living or dead, whom you’d love to share a bottle of wine with, who might that be?

Cathy Huyghe 33:33
The person who comes to mind for me it actually is Helen Keller. Helen Keller, because she’s somehow figured out how to communicate with serious impediments. And I would love to put a glass of wine or two or maybe three in front of her and have her communicate however she wants to communicate about what she’s experiencing in a wine.

Andrea Smalling 33:57
that would be fascinating. Yes.

Natalie MacLean 33:59
Oh, my goodness. It just brings to mind the Shapoorji levels of Braille. Not that she’d need it. But for this analysis, but that would be such an interesting experience to see how she described it the wine. Yes, definitely. Andrea, is there anyone who comes to mind for you?

Andrea Smalling 34:16
So for me, I think it would actually be Josephine Baker. I don’t know if either one of you are familiar with her. She was she was a singer, dancer, and she was famous in the United States but moved to France. And she became just celebrated in Paris and she had this famous kind of, she had bananas around her waist and like no top on. It was this whole thing. But I find her fascinating because on one hand, she was able to reach a level of fame in Paris that she wasn’t able to in the United States just because of the time, but I often wondered if she felt like that was a good thing or if she felt like she was kind of taken advantage of almost interesting, but she also just seems really fun. So I think it would just be fascinating is sitting here have a glass of wine and just hear all about her life and kind of what she really felt because you see images of her, but that’s really all that’s left.

Natalie MacLean 35:08
Oh, she at her height was it in the 1920s? Or what?

Andrea Smalling 35:11
Yes. I want to say in the 20s, maybe even earlier, okay. Yes, yeah, yes.

Natalie MacLean 35:16
Interesting. Yeah, I remember the hats.

Andrea Smalling 35:17
Exactly. Yes. You can picture her exactly. Yes.

Natalie MacLean 35:22
Exactly. Iconic. If either of you could put a billboard up in downtown Toronto or wherever you like, could be New York, San Francisco, what would it say?

Andrea Smalling 35:32
Mine would say “be kind”. As simple as that is, I just think that it’s all that we need in the world right now. Just be kind. True.

Cathy Huyghe 35:42
That’s true. Yeah, that’s a that’s a great one. If I’m thinking, generally, it would be “take a breath”. If we’re thinking about wine it would be “take a sip” so that you enjoy it. Yes.

Natalie MacLean 35:55
And then read the report. You could advertise your report at this maybe just a little URL down the corner.

Cathy Huyghe 36:01
Exactly. Or just drink it?

Natalie MacLean 36:05
Yes. Just like that. Yes. Not to get morbid, but what why would you like to serve at your funeral?

Cathy Huyghe 36:12
This is such an interesting question. That you asked this question. Do you have an answer at the ready?

Andrea Smalling 36:18
I don’t. But I will come up with one very quickly.

Natalie MacLean 36:22
I can offer one I probably go with a sparkling wine for celebration might be cliché, but I do want everyone to drink the good stuff that my funeral don’t cheap out just because I’m gone. And you think, Oh, we don’t need to worry about quality now. Yes, you do. I want you to enjoy the good stuff. At the last time we get together.

Andrea Smalling 36:38
Exactly. It’s funny. That’s where my head was going. I was thinking, you know, bring all those bottles that you’ve been laying down for a special occasion that you haven’t. Just bring those now and drink them.

Cathy Huyghe 36:49
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And mine actually similar to sparkling wine. But my head went to sweet wines actuall., if we’re going to sort of be talking about a lightbulb lived, which I hope people will say at my funeral. Let’s see how sweet it is.

Natalie MacLean 37:03
Absolutely lovely. All right,  one last question for both of you. Is there a wine tip or piece of advice that you can share with our listeners that’s perhaps made your own wine, drinking more pleasurable or even something to avoid? It can be a what not to do or whatever you like?

Cathy Huyghe 37:24
Yeah, that billboard comes back to mind, which is just drink it. Just drink it. Just enjoy it. If you like it. Don’t worry about why you like it. Just. Just enjoy it. Just drink.

Andrea Smalling 37:34
Definitely, definitely. For me, I think it would be just something fun that I love to do in terms of you know, you just want to have a fun evening with friends. Go to a store and pick a bottle and then buy that varietals, from different areas, different appellations all around the world and taste the differences.  Because again going back to it’s an agricultural business, that whole idea of terroir, I find it fascinating how different the styles can be from appellations. The appellation is just kind of a fun little exercise to play with.

Natalie MacLean 38:04
Yeah, love it. Love it. You’ve inspired me again as to why I love writing about wine. Thank you both for doing that. What a great conversation what great insights in your report. I so appreciate the time you’ve spent with me. It’s just flown by. So thank you both.

Cathy Huyghe 38:22
It’s super fun. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Andrea Smalling 38:25
Thanks for having us.

Natalie MacLean 38:26
Absolutely. And where can people find you both online?

Andrea Smalling 38:29
So you can find me online. Well, our website is My email is Andrea[email protected]

Cathy Huyghe 38:36
Similar thing E N O L Y T I C S. And I’m just Cathy with a C A T H Y [email protected] You do not have to know how to spell my last name.

Natalie MacLean 38:53
Oh, yeah. Is that right? I’ve tried. I shouldn’t have tried.  It was going so well. Just wrap it up that, Natalie. Thank you both. I hope we can get together soon in person and have a glass or three of this wonderful beverage we all love. So I’ll say goodbye for now. But thank you both so much.

Cathy Huyghe 39:19
Thank you. Thanks, Saturday. Thanks, Andrea. Bye. Bye, bye.

Natalie MacLean 39:28
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed our chat with Andrea and Cathy. Here are my takeaways. Number one, at least there were some upsides from the pandemic on the wine industry in terms of moving it forward a decade in terms of selling online and tightening direct connections between those who make wine and those who drink it, Two. I found it fascinating that the percentage of women buying wine online is rising faster than it is for men. I guess this does make sense given women still buy most house old items. And three, getting granular on the data means getting more personal with consumers in terms of their experience in buying wine, whether that’s in person at the winery, or online. In the shownotes, you’ll find links to Cathy and Andrea’s report and websites, my free online wine and food pairing class, and the video versions of these conversations. That’s all in the show notes at Email me if you have a sip, tip, question, or would like to be a beta reader of my new memoir at [email protected] You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with you Janina Doyle, host of the Eat Sleep Wine Repeat podcast. She’s interviewing me and we get into all sorts of fun stories and shenanigans. In the meantime, if you missed Episode 88, go back and take a listen. I chat about how a wine name impacts its price with Dr. Antonia Mantonakis. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 41:03
Not only were participants evaluate the taste of the wine as being higher quality, in terms of the overall evaluation, when it was more difficult sounding but participants also reported a higher willingness to pay for the wine.

Natalie MacLean 41:20
I’m assuming that for the difficult one, they were willing to pay more they thought it was a better wine.

Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 41:24
Yes, that’s correct. What was also more interesting that we were a little bit surprised by is that this difference was pronounced even for participants who had higher knowledge about wine. When a consumer is more passionate about wine, they’re really paying attention to the label and maybe the vintage and these other characteristics that they try to use as cues to evaluate the quality

Natalie MacLean 41:50
And that makes more sense not that they would be more gullible you know being knowledgeable, but that they’re just paying more attention to the details.

If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who be interested in the lines and stories we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your class this week. Perhaps a wine that that you recently purchased online

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