What’s it like to uproot your life in North America and move to Paris? What’s the connection between forensic science and wine? What influence has hip-hop music had on wine culture?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Tanisha Townsend, Chief Wine Officer of lifestyle agency Girl Meets Glass.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
Join me for the debut Watch Party of the video of this conversation that I’ll be live-streaming for the very first time on Zoom on Wednesday, July 21st at 7 pm eastern.
You can save your spot for free right here. I’ll be jumping into the comments as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.
I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion of what we’re discussing? What takeaways or tips do you love most from this chat? What questions do you have that we didn’t answer?
- Is milk a good alternative to wine?
- How did a trip to Burgundy change Tanisha’s life?
- What’s one thing Tanisha would do differently in her early career if she could go back?
- How did Tanisha gain her confidence as a wine professional?
- What about Tanisha’s background in computer forensics connected her to wine?
- What role are NFTs playing in the wine world?
- Why did Tanisha decide to uproot her life and move to Paris?
- What’s it like teaching French people about wine as an American woman?
- How has hip-hop music influenced the world of wine?
- What culture shifts did Tanisha have to adjust to with life in Paris?
- I loved listening to Tanisha’s story about uprooting her life in the US and moving to Paris. I think it’s a dream many of us have. She had such confidence and boldness though to make the move.
- I’m fascinated with the connection between forensic science and wine, and particularly how the new non-fungible tokens will soon play a role in detecting wine fraud. We’ll have to dive into that in more depth in a future episode.
- I thought Tanisha had great insights on the influence that hip-hop music has had on wine culture, particularly when it comes to celebrity wines.
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It wasn’t just drinking. It was the festivals that came along with it and going to visit different wineries. That kind of thing became a fun hobby that turned into a career. - Tanisha Townsend Click to tweet
I’ve realized I cannot teach French people about French wine. They are not listening to woman me, American me. - Tanisha Townsend Click to tweet
In hip hop, wine and spirits are mentioned in a lot of the lyrics and that encourages people to buy those particular wines and spirits. - Tanisha Townsend Click to tweet
Some brands have been very hesitant to align themselves with celebrities in general and other brands have been all for it. - Tanisha Townsend Click to tweet
About Tanisha Townsend
Tanisha Townsend is Chief Wine Officer of lifestyle agency Girl Meets Glass. She leads wine classes and tours in Paris as well as online. She also hosts the podcast, Wine School Dropout. Her goal is to empower people with an advanced knowledge of wine and spirits to build confidence in their tastes and make choices when buying wine.
- Connect with Tanisha Townsend
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 57: BYOB Wines to Restaurants
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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Tanisha Townsend 0:00
I took a trip to Burgundy. We were there for about six days, I am completely overwhelmed, because this is really my first time diving deeply into the region and then they’re like, Okay, guys, are you ready for the exam? I’m like, I’m sorry, what? We now have a blind tasting. I threw my hands up. I said, My gosh, okay. And they were like, so how do we know the results? And like, oh, at dinner tonight, we will just call out your name and then you get your certificate. I’m like, “In front of everybody?” I’m like, “Listen, just call me at the hotel. Just let me know.” So I go to the dinner and then they started announcing names, and they’re like, Tanisha Townsend, and I was like, well, that’s my name. That’s me! That’s me! And so I’m saying all this to say the fact that I applied and got accepted. There was no need for me to be intimidated. I was where I was supposed to be.
Natalie MacLean 0:56
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.
Natalie MacLean 1:13
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 137. What’s it like to suddenly uproot your life in North America and move to Paris? What’s the connection between forensic science and wine? And what influence has hip-hop music had on wine culture? You’ll get these answers and more during our chat with Tanisha Townsend, who leads wine classes and tours in Paris. In the show notes, you’ll find a full transcript of our conversation, links to both of my books, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class, where you can find me on Zoom, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Live video every Wednesday at 7pm including this evening and next week. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/137.
Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show; “Where are you going all dressed up like that?” Miles asked me the other day. Nowhere, really, I said. He looked at me. Just Shoppers Drug Mart; this is my Shoppers Drug Mart sundress, I explained. It’s part of my collection that includes my petrol station pantsuit and my grocery store gown. I skip the gloves of course, way too formal. Miles was just looking at me. I work from home, and we’re coming out of a lockdown so I really don’t get to wear clothes outside my yoga pants unless I make an effort. Ah, he said smiling. “Well, you look great pumpkin, go knock them out at Shoppers.” Wait till you see my liquor store loungewear I said as I went out the door. I am so glad we’re getting back to whatever the new normal will be. Are you? Okay, on with the show!
Natalie MacLean 3:26
Tanisha Townsend is the chief wine officer of the lifestyle agency Girl Meets Glass. I just love that. She is also the host of the podcast Wine School Dropout; love that title too. And we’re going to ask her about that. But she also leads online and in person, wine tours of Paris, as well as wine tasting classes so she’s got so much to share. And her goal is to empower people with an advanced knowledge of wine so that they feel more confident of their wine choices, whether they’re buying it, pairing it with food or visiting a beautiful city like Paris. So welcome to Tanisha, it’s so great to have you here with us.
Tanisha Townsend 4:08
Thank you so much. It’s so good to be here. I’m so excited.
Natalie MacLean 4:11
So am I! You’ve got so much to talk about. But before we dive into some of those topics I just mentioned Tanisha, tell me about one of your memorable first dates because there was a wine angle to it.
Tanisha Townsend 4:24
Okay, so when I first moved here, a way to meet people was you know, through meetup groups and things like that, but also I was single, so people like, Oh, you know, try the dating apps. So I met a couple people through Tinder and then went out with a guy in particular, so we’re out at the restaurant, and he was like, Oh, I don’t want anything to eat, I’m just going to get something to drink. I was like, okay, cool, no problem. I’m going to eat because I’m hungry, it’s that time of the day. I’m just going to put that out there. That’s what I’m going to do. And the waiter comes over, takes our order. He’s like, oh, I’ll just have a pineapple juice. I was like, Oh, okay. And I was like, I thought you were going to get a “drink drink”. He was like, What do you mean? Because I guess everybody doesn’t understand when you say something twice what that means. So I was like, I thought you were going to get like a drink, like a cocktail. He said, Oh, no. I said, I’m sorry. Oh, no. He’s like, Oh, no, I don’t drink or like wine or anything like that. Oh, maybe he saw my face kind of look defeated. He’s like, oh, but you know what I do like? And I was like, oh, tell me what? He says “I like milk.”
Natalie MacLean 5:33
How did you ever get matched up with that guy?
Tanisha Townsend 5:40
I was like, Are you 11? I mean, you know, to the listeners out there, milk is fine. Milk is a delicious drink. But if you ask an adult, usually their top drink, that they offer up, is probably not milk. Right? I wasn’t thinking milk.
Natalie MacLean 5:55
Well, there should have been some sort of checklist or something on that dating app you used. Likes wine, doesn’t like wine.
Tanisha Townsend 6:03
That has come after. Now there’s an application. And now they’re questions I ask right away, Give me your top 3 three drinks. If you say milk, you’re automatically out. You’re out. You’re out.
Natalie MacLean 6:12
I don’t blame you. I know there was a wine app. I don’t know if it still exists, but it matched people based on their wine preferences. So I thought that was interesting. And then I thought when I was dating Hmm, I don’t know if I can just choose someone based on we like the same tannin structure, I think there has to be a little more than that. But definitely not milk. Anyway, nothing wrong about milk. There’s got to be more than milk. So anyway, so Tanisha tell us about the time when you realised you had a passion for wine, that you either loved wine itself, or knew that you wanted to get into the wine industry.
Tanisha Townsend 6:50
I think the time that I knew I wanted to get into the wine industry was when that I took a trip to Burgundy. And this is a trip that I applied for because someone told me they were like, hey, they have this trip to Burgundy; they’re trying to educate people on the region; maybe you want to go. Like who doesn’t want to do this? So I applied and got accepted. So I get there and funny thing, I didn’t have any wine certifications at the time. I was in a class; my teacher was also on this trip. So I automatically was like, Oh, wait, I’m a little intimidated. So we get there and it’s time for the introductions. I’m just trying to set the scene a bit. So it’s time for the introductions. And you know, people like Oh, hi, I’m so and so MW. Hello, my name is blah, blah, blah, MS (Master Sommelier). Oh, I’m, blah, blah, blah and I’m the director of the wine Education Institute of blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, Hello, I’m Tanisha. And I turned to the left, because that’s all I have to say. I’m Tanisha. I got not a letter, not @ Tanisha Townsend, I don’t know.
Natalie MacLean 8:00
But that should be enough said,
Tanisha Townsend 8:01
Right. So I look to the next person, like, are you ready to go? Because I’m finished. So we go through the class. And we were there for like six days, and we’re going through the region. And I am completely overwhelmed. Because this is really my first time diving deeply into the region. And then they’re like, Okay, guys, so you’re ready for the exam? I’m like, I’m sorry, what? So it was an exam at the end. And we’re like, Oh, is it multiple choice? And like, Oh, it’s multiple choice, it’s fill in the blank, but a lot of short answer. And I was like, Oh, man. So we get there. I take the exam. And then they’re like, Okay, and then we now have a blind tasting. Oh, I threw my hands up. I said, My gosh, okay. So, and then we’re like, so how do we know the results? And like, Oh, well, at dinner tonight, we will just call out your name and then you get your certificate. I’m like “In front of everyone? Like all together? It’s like, yeah, we don’t call your name, then you didn’t get it. I’m like, Listen, just call me at the hotel. Like, I will pack my suitcase; I don’t have to show up to the rest of this. Okay. Just just let me know. So I didn’t get the call. I hope they knew I’m serious. But I didn’t get the call. I go to the dinner. And then they started announcing names. And they’re like, and Tanisha Townsend. And I was like, well, that’s my name, It’s me, it’s me! All this to say, being in that place, with the people that I was there with, the fact that I applied and got accepted, there was no need for me to be intimidated. Everybody was fantastic. Everybody was helpful. And I was where I was supposed to be. That stuff wasn’t necessarily difficult for me because I was doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And at that moment, I was like, okay, Tanisha, this is a thing. You can do this, and it is a thing that can be done. Because I don’t think I really understood what could really happen in the wine industry or what it was. I was one of those people that was like, okay, you either make wine or you sell wine or you’re serving in a restaurant. Like I thought those are the three things you can do and I didn’t really want to do any of those. So after this moment and learning what I learned, I was like, Okay, alright, this is something you can do. So that was my moment when I was like, Yes. And we’re doing it. So we just went on from there.
Natalie MacLean 10:18
That is fantastic. Is there anything in retrospect, you would have done differently in terms of getting into the wine industry or anything along the way that you’ve learned?
Tanisha Townsend 10:31
I won’t say it’s something that necessarily this weird, because everything kind of happens for a reason. But I do wish I had more confidence in myself in my what I had to offer early on. But I mean, I guess everything happened in the time it was supposed to, and I grew into the wine professional that I am now. But I definitely wish I believed in myself more that like, okay, you know enough, you are smart enough, you are interesting enough, that you can do this. But that is something that early on, I used to be very quiet, and I’d go to events and you know, wouldn’t say much, I’d walk in “Hello, Party of 1, Tanisha Townsend, Thank you”, and then just kind of stand in the back and just kind of listen, but didn’t jump in or jump into conversations or things like that. But that’s something that I wish I had done a little bit more.
Natalie MacLean 11:24
Absolutely. I resonate with that. And I think a lot of women do. So what helped you get confidence over time? Was it just the experience, getting your training? Is that mainly what built it? Or was it feedback from people in the industry?
Tanisha Townsend 11:38
The experience? Yeah, for me, it was time. The more I did it, the more I became confident. One thing with me is, I feel like this is sometimes that been detrimental; b speaking in another language has been a little problem for that. But we’ll put a pin in that. But not speaking unless I am 150% sure of what I’m saying, and that can’t always be the case. Sometimes you just kind of just jump into a conversation and offer your opinion or offer your suggestion whether you are 100% sure it’s fact or not. So that’s something that I have over time, I’ve become more confident in what I know, what I know to be true. And so now I can definitely just jump in, ah-ha, let me say this, or Oh, I have an idea. And so I can jump in and offer that perspective now.
Natalie MacLean 12:27
That’s terrific. Wow. So I want to get into your decision to go to Paris. But before that, tell us what you were studying before you even got into wine because it’s very interesting; your background? Yes. So
Tanisha Townsend 12:39
Yes. So what actually got me into just enjoying wine in general, that happened because I was stressed from getting my master’s degree in computer forensics. It was just a lot and it was very technical and difficult and all that.
Natalie MacLean 12:56
Yeah. What is it? What is computer forensics? I know CSI for the television show but what are we talking about in computer forensics.
Tanisha Townsend 13:00
It is funny that you say that because the way my mother used to describe it was like, oh, CSI for computers to help people get their head around it. What is she studying! CSI for computers! So it’s crimes or things against a computer, or committing crimes using a computer. So think identity theft, think hacking. You know the different things that, the email scams and all of that, industrial espionage and corporate espionage. Now that happens through computers, not just somebody showing up and dropping a note off and then leaving. Now it happens through computers and things now. And wha
Natalie MacLean 13:39
And what drew you to that? Why were you fascinated with that?
Tanisha Townsend 13:42
I always had a fascination with true crime. I mean, now it’s popular, like I was doing this back, you know, when it wasn’t so popular. But I always had a fascination with true crime and what watch all those forensic shows, Forensic Files and American Justice and definitely all the CSIs. And I found out about this programme, because I made a deal with my parents, because my brother was like, when he graduated from university, he said, Well, I’m not getting any more degrees. This is it. My mother was like, Well, someone needs to get a graduate degree. And someone needs to give me grandkids. My brother said, I got the grandkids. I said, I got the graduate degree. So he has two children, and I have a graduate degree so that is how that came to be. So when I found out about this particular programme, I said, Oh, I think this is perfect. This is a much better fit for me than just getting an MBA or something like that just because I think that’s what I’m supposed to do. It was a much better fit. And then it led me to where I am today.
Natalie MacLean 14:41
So how did that connect? You were stressed out. Is that when you when you started drinking, when you started having glasses of wine? Do you see any intersection between the two; the computer forensics and wine itself? Like maybe you could talk to us about the bridge there.
Tanisha Townsend 14:58
The bridge was actually just the stress part. More so that I got my degree at a school in Washington, DC. And there are a lot of vineyards in Maryland and Virginia. So I was able to in exploring wine and just looking for things to do, they would have a lot of wine festivals. So I started going to those wine festivals, because there was one in particular that, everybody talks about all the time, and they played live music and it was just a fantastic time. So going there, tasting the wine, and then kind of getting more into it. And then it just being kind of a fun thing. So it wasn’t just like I’m drinking because I’m stressed. It was also the festivals that came along with it, going to visit different wineries and that kind of thing. It became a fun hobby that turned into a career.
Natalie MacLean 15:45
That is great. And do you see any similarities between what you were doing in computer forensics and wine, what you do today?
Tanisha Townsend 15:52
Not necessarily the forensic part of it, but with social media, in the different things that I needed to set up and get prepared as far as business and consultant, things like that, I was able to easily do that because of computer background. Now I am kind of getting into, not like really into, but interested in wine fraud and the different technologies they’re using to combat that. So that’s something that I’m kind of reading up on and studying.
Natalie MacLean 16:17
Yeah. Do you think just to take that in a sideline for a moment, but the NFT, the non fungible tokens? Do you think they’ll be useful in the wine world or probably should define what those are? Because I’m even hazy about it. I hear it associated with music and digital paintings. It’s a unique marker of some sort.
Tanisha Townsend 16:35
It’s funny you say that. I actually just read something today about how they sold at En Primeur in Bordeaux using NFT. I didn’t read the whole thing. I just saw the headline and then saved it to read it later. But that’s something that’s happening. And I want to say it was for a Cheval Blanc. So a very popular well known Bordeaux.
Natalie MacLean 16:56
Okay; are they putting some sort of NFT on the label so that it’s a mark of authentication?
Tanisha Townsend 17:02
That’s the part I have no idea about
Natalie MacLean 17:03
I gotta look into that, because this is such a hot topic right now. But that would be marvellous, a marvellous intersection for you.
Tanisha Townsend 17:13
Between that and then also using cryptocurrency for wine. Like I’m hearing rumblings about this. So I definitely want to read more about it and maybe a new path.
Natalie MacLean 17:22
Yeah, absolutely. And when it comes to the cryptocurrency, is that buying wine with Bitcoin and the like? Is that what that is? All right. Cool. Wow. Interesting. I will have to get you back once you’re the expert on that.
Tanisha Townsend 17:33
Once I get it up here.
Natalie MacLean 17:39
Yes, exactly. It’s all so new. So how did you decide to move to Paris? That’s quite a jump across the pond.
Tanisha Townsend 17:46
Yes. And it all happened, as they say things all work together. The position that I had before that position had become redundant. So there was that; that was at home, like, all right, in the IT world. And I had just gotten out of a relationship, so that was done. Like, okay, well, now what? And I didn’t know what to do next, what I wanted to do, and I realised that I had put too much energy and focus into work and didn’t have anything really else but wine. So I was like, Okay, what can I do with this? All of a sudden got an email. Hey, remember me? You met me at a conference like last year? You talked about how you like being abroad, and you’re also doing some wine things where you are? Well, I can’t teach my courses in Paris, and I can’t teach my courses next year. Do you think you want to do it? Oh, by the way, I’m in Paris. And I was like, Is this real? And I was like, Okay, yeah, I’ll do it. Thinking like this can’t possibly be real. Nothing about this is going to work out. This is not how life anything really works. But lo and behold, that is exactly how things work. So I sent an email to the Dean, she introduced me to the Dean or the Director at the school. This was a school called EMC. It’s a business school and they had like a wine arm to some of their luxury management programmes. I taught two courses, luxury wine and spirits. And then wine science, its like something something fancy; wine panorama in European wine, but all the wines in Europe that weren’t French wines, because what I have realised I cannot teach French people about French wine. They are not listening to woman me, American me. They’re not having it now. Because they wanted to argue me down, when I was talking luxury, they wanted to argue with me about California Cabernet. They were like what’s luxury about that. I said, Oh, everything.
Natalie MacLean 20:03
How did you convince them there are luxury California wines?
Tanisha Townsend 20:08
I had to have them taste a couple. And then leading into something else; you mentioned in the introduction, I brought up how hip hop ties into wine and how a lot of people are influenced for their purchases by songs. And my particular genre that I enjoy is hip hop. So I did a full course for them. That’s actually how the whole thing came about. I did a full course for them on hip hop, and how wine and also spirits are mentioned in a lot of the lyrics and how that encourages people to buy those particular wines and spirits and things.
Natalie MacLean 20:44
Yeah, all the name checking, or the call outs in the songs. And what else like I mean, there’s so many, I guess, and it tends to be luxury brands that are called out. I am no expert on hip hop, but I do enjoy it. But what do you see in hip hop music as it relates to wine?
Tanisha Townsend 21:02
Well, the thing about hip hop music, is it’s all about aspirational, living. It’s about how you would like to live if I had this money, or what they believe luxury to be. So of course it would be you drive this car, you wear these clothes, you carry this handbag, you drink this wine, you drink this Cognac, because that’s what luxury seems to be. And so that’s kind of how that comes up. It’s interesting, though, a lot of the people that I’ve mentioned early on that talk about a lot of these things, now they do have all this money. So now they buy these things regularly. So their focus is kind of changed as far as what they rap about, because well, it’s not aspirational. They have it. So I don’t have to rap about it. Like now I own these brands or they are ambassadors for these brands. Like Jay-Z; he has Cognac now, he has the champagne, you know, how Puffy has the vodka, different things like that.
Natalie MacLean 21:58
Yeah.You know, I visited the champagne house, Louis Roederer. They make Cristal as you know, you are the expert on that. I asked them did Jay-Z help sales? They said we’re not sure, but he’s not like an official spokesperson. So I guess they were hesitant to sort of line up in case, maybe the next lyrics weren’t going to be positive about the wine, I don’t know.
Tanisha Townsend 22:21
And that’s the thing that’s really so interesting about it, how some brands have been very hesitant, you know, to align themselves with celebrities in general. And other brands have been all for it. Like Cognac, for instance, they’re like, Oh, no, no, no, we know they single handedly changed the game for us. And our sales went up by like 200% because they have put our names in songs. So we’re embracing it. We’re going to focus our energy and our attention here. And then that’s it. Because they say the largest consumer of Cognac is African Americans and the Chinese market.
Natalie MacLean 22:54
Oh, fascinating. Then they attribute it to the music and the culture I guess. That is fascinating. Wow. Any other insights come out of your course between hip hop and music?
Tanisha Townsend 23:05
No, not anything else. The main thing for me that was interesting was listening to some people, what they rapped about in the beginning. And then seeing just over the course of time, how they became ambassadors or own their own brands and how that changed. That part was fascinating to me.
Natalie MacLean 23:21
Yeah. Have you ever seen an artist singing about a certain wine and it did not work out or it had a negative influence? Are they all aspirational? Basically positive?
Tanisha Townsend 23:33
Generally, a lot of it is aspirational and positive. Yeah, the only time it has kind of gone wrong is when one person is like maybe an ambassador for one brand or says something for one brand and then they also are seen drinking another brand.
Natalie MacLean 23:50
Yeah, that’s brand ambassadorship 101
Tanisha Townsend 23:51
Right. I work for Nike but you just saw me coming out of the gym in an Adidas T shirt, like that’s a problem. It’s like that kind of thing. You do it behind closed doors, right? It’s like wear that at home where you cleaned up, but not outside.
Natalie MacLean 24:07
So wasn’t it a challenge? Were you bilingual when you move to Paris? Was it a challenge kind of fitting in there?
Tanisha Townsend 24:13
Am I bilingual now? I’ve been living here. So I’ve been living here six years. I wouldn’t say bilingual but I’ll definitely say I’m more comfortable having a conversation. I didn’t realise how hard it was to learn a language. Because it’s something that you can’t just throw a bunch of money at. It is literally just time; you have to take the time; you have to practice it constantly. I know people who are like, Oh, I got it in six months. First of all, I kind of hate them. That wasn’t my story. It takes awhile. Also, I work in English. You know I work with tourists, I work in tourism, the people that I’m around are native English speakers or English is our common language. So that’s what we speak. So that is the thing that kind of also helped me from learning the language that I wanted to.Now that I’ve been here for a while I have French friends, I take classes still, but now it’s a little less of a class, but more conversational. So like, I have people that I meet up with once a week, and we have a conversation in French, just to get my confidence up. Because the confidence that I mentioned before of knowing what I was talking about, to now, I know exactly what I’m talking about. And I want to say it, but I don’t know the words in French, and I’m not sure if I’m saying it correctly. Or I say it correctly, but I don’t have the right accent. So all of that came into play. After a while, I was just like, Listen, I’m tired of coming to these things, and not saying anything, and being invisible. So you’re just going to get this broken French, and we’re just going to try.
Natalie MacLean 25:51
Yeah. Good for you. I was once in a competition of French speaking. And I felt so lost that I just started adding ment to every word like “mo”. “Je very ment”. It was like, I don’t know what the adjudicators thought. But anyway, I know, I feel you like in terms of trying to speak a language and being lost for words. But anyway.
Tanisha Townsend 26:13
Yeah. But the funny thing is, once I got a little more confident and started, you know, with, okay, I do know some basic things, and I can get around. And so I would start a conversation in French. A lot of them knew English and they were just like, Oh, we can speak English, if you like. And I was like, Well, I would like, Yes. And I’m like, I missed out on all of this in the beginning, because I was too scared to even try. I would just walk up like Bonjour, le vin s’il vous plaît? And just point. I got really good at charades. Like, that’s all I had. But no, now we’re much better.
Natalie MacLean 26:51
Oh, that’s good. That’s good. And was there any other issues in fitting in culturally or anything like that? Was it mainly the language in terms of adjusting to Paris?
Tanisha Townsend 27:01
No, the culture is way different, especially from America. The work ethic is different. The French, they love their vacations, and they just really like to enjoy their lives. And as an American, I can definitely say that isn’t something that was in the before times, that isn’t something that was really ingrained in us. It was like, no; work, work, work. This needs to be done. Oh, but I’m supposed to get off at five o’clock. But this isn’t done so stay and finish it. No, they’re going home. The French are like, well, it’s five o’clock, though. So we gotta we have to leave it like that. We got to work. We got it. And that’s the thing. I like it until I need something at 455, then it’s a problem. But other than that, you know that I also love how they break. When it’s time for lunch. There actually used to be a rule that they couldn’t sit at their desk for lunch, they had to leave their office for lunch. Now this is something that’s also subsidised. And they do get vouchers to be able to eat out and so that’s something that’s pretty cool as well. But they always go out; you see them, whether they’re at a restaurant, or when the weather’s nice they’re in a park, they’re sitting on the stair somewhere, they get up and they leave. So that’s something else that I really enjoy. They take their meals very seriously. In the evening, that’s great. So if you’re in a rush, don’t go sit down in a restaurant. Like if you’re like, Oh, I only got an hour, then you need to stand up and get something. You need to get a sandwich and like sit on a bench and eat that. Because when it’s time to sit down and eat, you sit down and eat. There isn’t a bunch of let me talk on my phone; let me text, let me do this or that. No, they definitely take their time together very seriously. And they take their food very seriously. And so I really love that about the culture. But that was something that was hard for me in the beginning. Because again, I needed something done, whether I need some paperwork, or I’m at an office, and they’re like, Oh, well, they’re at lunch. I’m like, who’s at lunch? And they’re like, the people that do this. I was like, isn’t there like five people in the team? Say here? They’re at lunch? Why are they all at lunch at the same time? Like I don’t understand. Like can’t you stagger this, like you go 12 to one, then you come back and you go one to two like that. Not we’re just closed 12 to two.
Natalie MacLean 29:20
Wow, that is quite the culture shift. My goodness
Tanisha Townsend 29:22
Yeah. And then they have very specific times to eat. You know, in America, you literally eat whenever you want. There isn’t a Oh, we have lunch from 12 to three, we’re open and then we open for dinner. Here you get hungry at 3 or 4 o’clock, Good luck, because you’re going to struggle to find something. Working through lunch and then I’ll just grab something after; No you won’t. That’s not happening. So that was something that took some getting used to. Now I really enjoy that and when I go back to the States, like the accessibility of everything gets a little annoying. I’m like, Oh, you can just do this. Oh, now even the waitstaff, I feel bad saying this, because so many people are going to see this, but here when you order at a restaurant, you know, you have to wave them over, like Excusez-moi? So then they’ll come over, take your order, they bring your food, and then you won’t see them again. If you need them, you can find them, wave them over, it’s fine. Whereas in the States they’re at your table every 25 seconds; Do you need anything? Can I get you anything? What do you need? Top up wine constantly; Giving you all the water. Now for me I’m at home, like Oh My God, Get away from me. Like I just want to talk to my friends; Like Oh My God, why is he here again? This is how it is
Natalie MacLean 30:45
It sounds like we should all go to Paris, just to relax a bit more, like just especially with travel coming
Tanisha Townsend 30:50
Well, when things were quiet, it was nice paces were slow. But I do like restaurants being back open because they actually just opened last week.
Natalie MacLean 31:00
Oh nice. Ours are going to open about two weeks. I cannot wait. I miss restaurant life. Oh, so much.
Tanisha Townsend 31:07
I was tired of washing dishes. I can’t do this anymore.
Natalie MacLean 31:18
That’s a downside too.
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Tanisha Townsend. Here are my top takeaways.
Number one, I love listening to Tanishas’ story about uprooting her life in the US and moving to Paris. I think it’s a secret dream many of us have. She had such confidence and boldness though to make that move
Two; I’m fascinated with the connection between forensic science and wine and particularly how the new Non Fungible Tokens will soon play a role in detecting wine fraud. We’ll have to dive into that in more depth in a future episode.
And three; I thought Tanisha had great insights on the influence that hip hop music has had on wine culture, particularly when it comes to celebrity wines and shout outs.
In the show notes, you’ll find a full transcript of our conversation, how you can join me in a free wine and food pairing class, links to both of my books, and where you can find me on Zoom, Insta, Facebook, YouTube, every Wednesday at 7pm including this evening. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/137.
You won’t want to miss next week when we continue our chat with Tanisha. In the meantime, if you missed Episode 57 go back and take a listen. I chat about bring your own bottle, BYOB wines, to restaurants. What’s the proper etiquette? And why would you want to do it aside from being a cheapskate? Just kidding. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
What does BYOB, bring your own bottle to a restaurant, really mean? What special laws and etiquette do you need to know about it? Which provinces and states allow it? How does BYOB benefit you as a wine lover; aside from reducing your restaurant bill? And how should you calculate the tip when you bring your own wine? That’s exactly what you’ll learn on today’s episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast.
Natalie MacLean 33:26
If you like this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who be interested in the tips that Tanisha shared. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your class this week.
Natalie MacLean 33:47
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