How do bad vintages in life help us to thrive? Why is Pinot Noir the grape that teeters on the edge of a nervous breakdown? How can moderation help to preserve our passion for wine?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m being interviewed by Calla Bischoff and Kara Ferreira on their Boozy Biddies Talk Wine podcast.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
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I’ll be jumping into the comments as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.
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- What makes Wine Witch on Fire different from my first two books?
- How do bad vintages in life help us to thrive?
- Why is Pinot Noir my favourite grape?
- How did the process of writing my memoir help me to heal and connect with others?
- Has the wine industry changed in recent years when it comes to women and people of colour?
- Why was it important to me to openly share my mental health struggles?
- Are there parallels between my experiences in the tech and wine industries?
- How can moderation help to preserve your passion for wine?
- What types of moderation tips will you find in Wine Witch on Fire?
- What do wine professionals need to be aware of when it comes to drinking on the job?
- Why is it tricky for many women in the wine industry to navigate professional social situations?
- What is it like to go up against stereotypes while trying to build your career in the wine industry?
- How has misogyny been threaded throughout wine writing?
- Which surprising Rosé food pairing is my guilty pleasure?
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There’s a lot of area in the middle for people to employ different techniques to moderate their consumption yet still enjoy wine. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
About Calla Bischoff and Kara Ferreira
Calla Bischoff is an East Coast kid at heart who has made her way out West where she worked as a wine supplier for seven years. She’s pivoted in the industry, now focusing on selling corks and oak barrels to distilleries around North America, but is physically incapable of staying away from wine even if her sales focus on the harder stuff. She has had the opportunity to work for international wineries in Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia while also spending a good amount of time with domestic wines from California. She spends more time in airports than her apartment for work but still enjoys traveling for pleasure especially if it involves a good wine region to visit.
Kara Ferreira is still an East Coast kid – despite being born in California – who grew up drinking Italian wine at home with her Italian family (which, thanks to Ancestry.com, we now know is only about 6% Italian). She also took a course on Italian wine while studying abroad, so naturally this makes her an expert. After many years waiting tables throughout college, in the Berkshires and in New York City, Kara left the service industry, had a career detour through the United Nations, and then turned to website design & development. She owns her own website company and is the co-partner of a small business consultancy, but of course, still loves a glass of good wine.
Together they created Boozy Biddies Talk Wine, a fun and irreverent exploration of wine for people who love drinking it and want to know just a bit more about it.
- Connect with Boozy Biddies
- Upcoming wine tasting and book launch events for Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much
- Closson Chase Vineyard Tasting & Book Signing – Prince Edward County on Thursday, September 28th at 5 pm
- The 2023 Toronto International Festival of Authors – Sunday, October 1st at 7 pm at the Harbourfront Centre
- Ottawa Writers Festival – Friday, October 27th at 6 pm
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
- Wine Witch on Fire Free Companion Guide for Book Clubs
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 41: Travel the Wine World with Kevin Brauch
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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Thirsty for more?
- Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
- You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
- The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.
Calla Bischoff (00:00):
I love how you call Pinot the heartbreak grape. We call Pinot Noir the Millennial of grapes because it can be finicky and entitled and thin skin and sensitive, and some days it just doesn’t want to show up for work. And we say that as Millennials, so we’re allowed to be self deprecated.
Natalie MacLean (00:15):
Is a really high maintenance, fussy grape, but when it’s good, it’s sublime. When it’s bad, it’s just downright nasty. Pinot Noir teeters on that edge of a nervous breakdown. And I think wines and people who are like that are the most interesting because they’re raw and they’re going to get right to the heart of the matter immediately. Let’s not fuzz around with a nice little whatever – I shouldn’t denigrate any grape – I’m going to get the association for whatever, Pinot Grigio, after me. I didn’t say that. Anyway, we’ve established that Pinot Noir, that’s our leadership grape.
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations? Well, that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean, and each week I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please and let’s get started.
Welcome to episode 251. How do bad vintages in life help us thrive? Why is Pinot Noir the grape that teeters on the edge of a nervous breakdown? How can moderation help us preserve our passion for wine? In today’s episode, you’ll hear those stories and tips that answer those questions during our chat with Kara Ferrieira and Calla Bischoff, hosts of the fun and irreverent podcast Boozy Biddies. They’re actually interviewing me.
I’m excited to share with you that my new book, Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce Defamation and Drinking Too Much will now be available at Shopper’s Drug Marts. Their book section is usually nestled right beside the magazine racks. So if you spot the little Wine Witch there, please take a photo and send it to me perhaps paired with your favourite prescription. Just kidding. I also want to give a shout out to Cave Springing Vineyard for stocking the book in their winery tasting room and for supporting its message of hope, justice, and resilience.
A quick reminder that I’ll be hosting three fun wine tasting and book launch events this month and next, so treat yourself to one of them. I’ll be in Prince Edward County on Thursday, September 28th. Get your tickets at ClossonChase.com. On Sunday, October 1st at 7:00 PM, I’ll be hosting an event as part of the Toronto International Festival of Writers. Save your spot at FestivalofAuthors.ca. And finally, I’ll be hosting an event with the Ottawa Writers Festival on Friday, October 27th at 6:00 PM register at WritersFestival.org. Please let me know if you can join me at one or more of these events. Please also let your friends, family, and colleagues know about them. I’ll include links to all of the events in the show notes at NatalieMacLean.com/251
Here’s a review from Amanda in Chicago. “I love this book. It moved me in many ways. Natalie’s excellent writing style combined with my interests in wine and relationships kept me from putting the book down. I learned a lot about staying true to yourself and a lot about wine and the wine industry. Cheers.” Cheers to you, Amanda. Thank you.
If you’ve read the book or are reading it, I’d love to hear from you at [email protected]. If you haven’t got your copy yet and would like to support it and this podcast, please order it from any online book retailer no matter where you live. Every little bit helps to spread the message. I’ll put a link in the show notes to all retailers worldwide at NatalieMacLean.com/251. Okay on with the show.
Kara Ferreira (04:29):
Hey, it’s Kara and Calla.
Calla Bischoff (04:30):
And we’re back with another episode of The Boozy Bitties.
Kara Ferreira (04:33):
This is the drink as you learn in school with two longtime friends
Calla Bischoff (04:35):
And sometimes we’re just two Boozy Biddies. Let’s make that three Boozy Biddies today as we welcome the winner of four James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards, host of the New York Times recommended podcast, Unreserved Wine Talk, and author of the books Unquenchable and Red, White and Drunk All Over amongst many other things.
Kara Ferreira (04:52):
Today to discuss her life in the industry and her upcoming new book Wine Witch on Fire, available June 6th is Natalie MacLean. Grab yourself a glass of Pinot Noir and join us.
Calla Bischoff (05:01):
Natalie MacLean (05:03):
Kara, Calla. You’re my people. We’ve already discussed this, we’ve gotten into it, into the wine, into the talk, but I’m so excited.
Calla Bischoff (05:10):
Me, too .Oh my gosh. It is very rare that someone makes me nervous, but you just being a very badass, strong powerhouse of a female in the industry is just inspiring and awesome in so many ways.
Natalie MacLean (05:22):
Thank you so much. I love that.
Calla Bischoff (05:23):
We do too.
Kara Ferreira (05:26):
We’re very honoured to have you on. We actually at first when you reached out, we didn’t think it was real [laughter].
Calla Bischoff (05:31):
I was talking with my family and I was like, holy [beep out]. I’m sorry, I curse now. I’m sorry. I was just like holy shit, this can’t be real. And my parents were like, maybe it’s a scam. And I was like, who tries to scam me by making me read a book [laughter]. Don’t give out any personal info like your social security or your credit card. I was like, thank you guys.
Natalie MacLean (05:56):
After you finished reading, I was going to ask you to send cash because I’m trapped here in this strange country and oh no, in vineyards. In vineyards. Let’s make it a bit more on point. But anyway, yes, I’m glad you responded. This is great.
Calla Bischoff (06:07):
This is so exciting. I read Unquenchable and Red, White, and Drunk All Over a little bit ago, so seeing that you had a new book come out and especially the title drew me in right away. I am a practicing Wiccan, so to see it’s called Wine Witch on Fire. I was like. all the things I love.
Natalie MacLean (06:25):
That’s great. Good mashup.
Calla Bischoff (06:29):
So for anyone who hasn’t heard of Natalie before, definitely check out her podcast and her other books. They’re really awesome. It seems like this book is a little bit more of a different path than your other two. The other ones were more focused on wine, one about Pinot Noir especially, and the other one more about navigating affordable wine.
Natalie MacLean (06:47):
Exactly, exactly. Those were truly wine books in the technical sense, although I never try to get technical. They’re always first person narratives, adventure stories, meeting kind of weird and wonderful people in the world of wine to learn about it. But this one is a memoir. It has a more serious tone but it’s not a total downer. I couldn’t resist still having humour in it. But it’s a really book that goes behind the scenes of the wine world and especially a woman’s place in it and the struggles and my worst possible vintage ever personally. But yeah, so it is different from the first two, but I hope readers will continue on with me on the journey.
Calla Bischoff (07:24):
I love how I think that’s the classiest way to say a bad year is it was just a bad vintage for me. I think I’m going to bring that into my life, be like 2022 not my strong point, just a bad vintage [laughter].
Natalie MacLean (07:35):
Let’s just overlook that. Let’s just keep on going with the next vintages. But the book actually opens with a wine label, as you know, and I do call it my terrible Vintage Pinot Noir, the Heartbreak Grape, our common love in wine terms. But I think people do have vintages and we have seasons. And if we survive and thrive those bad vintages – I’m just going to totally milk the metaphor – our roots go deeper, we become fiercer, wiser, smaller berries, better wine. People are a lot like wine like vines. Yeah, suffering’s good. I’m Catholic.
Calla Bischoff (08:15):
We were both raised Catholic. I’m actually Kara’s daughter’s godmother, even though I’m trying to Wiccan. That was really hard at the baptism when he is like, do you renounce Satan? I was like, my fingers crossed behind my back kind of thing [laughter]. You didn’t hear that Lucifer, don’t worry about it. I’m still on your side.
Natalie MacLean (08:31):
That’s true. Yeah. Well, I call myself either a collapsed Catholic or a cafeteria Catholic. I just sort of take the parts I like and leave the rest behind, but I’m not practicing actually.
Calla Bischoff (08:41):
That’s me too. I love how you call Pinot Noir the heartbreak grape. Kara and I, we call Pinot Noir the Millennial of grapes on a lot of episodes because we know it can be finicky and entitled and thin skin and sensitive, and some days it just doesn’t want to show up for work. And we say that as Millennials, so we’re allowed to be self-deprecating.
Natalie MacLean (09:04):
I love that. Millennial grape. That’s true.
Calla Bischoff (09:08):
I’ll let you take that one. You can have that [laughter].
Natalie MacLean (09:10):
Thank you. But the heartbreak grape goes back. I don’t know who came up with that, but yeah, it is because this is just a really high maintenance kind of fussy grape. But as you know, when it’s good, it’s sublime. When it’s bad, it’s just downright nasty. I wouldn’t even want to describe it, but yeah, so I’m glad that it’s a favourite of both of us because I think Pinot Noir teeters on that edge of a nervous breakdown and I think wines and people who are like that are the most interesting because they’re raw and they’re going to get right to the heart of the matter immediately. Let’s stop, let’s not fuss around with a nice little whatever. I shouldn’t denigrate any grape – I’m going to get the association for whatever, Pinot Grigio, – after me. I didn’t say that.
Calla Bischoff (09:58):
We heard nothing.
Natalie MacLean (10:00):
But anyway. So yeah. Anyway, we’ve established that. So Pinot Noir, yeah, that’s our leadership grape.
Calla Bischoff (10:05):
I feel like that just kind of takes away our first icebreaker question here, which is if you were stranded on an island and can pick one varietal forever, what would it be.
Natalie MacLean (10:12):
Yes, Pinot Noir, right, because Pinot Noir, if I was left alone with a wine, I feel like the wine could understand me that we’d both be kind of edgy sometimes, but we get along as long as there was lots of Pinot Noir. And if price is no matter, I would go with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
Calla Bischoff (10:30):
And that makes sense. [laughter].
Natalie MacLean (10:31):
Yeah, it does.
Calla Bischoff (10:33):
I’ve never had that, but I’ve always been. When I learned what Pinot Noir actually should be and not just what bulk California Pinot Noir is blended with whatever or added with Mega Purple, it was such a game changer to my palate. And I think it just goes with anything. It’s good during the summer because it’s light. It’s something you can drink without needing a food pairing necessarily. It’s just.
Natalie MacLean (10:56):
True. It’s got all the flavour, but you won’t be asleep on the sofa at seven because it’s not heavy in alcohol and tannin and oak and that sort of thing. It’s like – I don’t play golf. In fact, I tried once. It was not a good experience because I’m an A type, long iron clubs – but it’s like a golf game if I understand it correctly. Just that one shot will keep you coming back if you get one good shot. And it’s like Pinot Noir. It’s like, God, that was just so good. And then you get six crappy ones and then, oh, no, but I remember that great one. I’m going to keep coming back to it.
Calla Bischoff (11:26):
Yeah, yeah. We’ll stop making this a Pinot Noir fan girl episode. We’ll head to the actual topics of what we came here to discuss today. This book took you quite some time to write, it seems like or at least to write this. This is your vintage here that you’re talking about is like 2012, correct?
Natalie MacLean (11:43):
Calla Bischoff (11:45):
And now we’re in 2023. Was this written a long time ago and there was a comfortable level that you were ready to share your memoir, or was this something that waited on until you were comfortable writing it?
Natalie MacLean (11:55):
Right, so I couldn’t even look at the notes I made during that time. I keep a journal. At the time, I was advised by the legal help that I eventually sought to take screenshots and record everything. So I did all of that and then locked it away for five years. I couldn’t even look at the notes. But this story was ricocheting around in my head and my body, and I just thought I have to write about it, even if it’s just a private exercise, just for me to make sense of what happened. And when I finally looked back at the notes, there were big pieces of information and days that I had just blocked out and not because of drinking, it was just things I didn’t even realize that happened. And it was really therapeutic putting it all back together again and understanding what happened, why it happened, and how I could change personally – because pretty much all we can affect these days, we can’t change other people. And it was really healing.
But then I guess the evolution of it was that I was, in the meantime hearing lots of stories from women I know in the wine industry about their experience as well with sexism, misogyny, isolation, et cetera. And even though the specifics of our stories differ, I felt that the themes were the same. And I thought, well maybe my reflections and how I dealt with it emotionally could help them. And I think that’s what leads most memoirists to write a book is that first you do it for yourself and then you think, could this story make someone feel less alone? And I am no saviour, I’m not a guru or a wisdom or a psychologist or whatever, but I do think when something resonates with us in art, literature, dance, music, whatever, there’s something that hums inside of us that says, oh yeah, that’s my story too.
And of course, all of this happened before MeToo, before Harvey Weinstein and all the rest of it. So it was like double, triple, whatever you want to call it. But those stories and those themes and those issues are still present today. It’s coming out in finance and tech and sports, and it’s still alive. It’s still relevant.
Calla Bischoff (14:09):
Completely. And we haven’t really talked about what you’re writing about that’s difficult to your life here. It was you were going through divorce, there’s an issue with copyright infringement, and it was like you said before, MeToo, before Harvey Weinstein. The industry has become more progressive. I’ve seen it, but it’s still not there. But even between 2012 and a decade later, there’s been progress but it’s been a slow uphill battle for a lot of women and a lot of people of colour in this industry to kind of find their place in something that they’re passionate about.
Natalie MacLean (14:45):
Absolutely. So there’s far greater awareness of the issues within the industry and just universally because of everything that’s happened in the past 10 years, but there’s just such a long way to go. I mean, in 2020 you probably remember that the New York Times had a big expose on The Court of Master Sommeliers exposing rampant sexism and sexual harassment and attacks. I mean, in 2018 there was a UK study that said 89% of women in the hospitality industry have experienced sexual harassment on the job. So it’s sadly still alive and well, but I think there’s a far greater awareness now for both women and people of colour, but there’s just so much actual change still to do to make, to advocate for
Calla Bischoff (15:31):
Starting your memoir, I just felt a lot of things. The way that you wrote about what you were going through, you could feel palpable pain on the pages, understanding that this was something that was devastating to you. And I think a lot of the way that you talk about your mental health struggles with this, you talk about what you went through professionally. It was very relatable in a lot of ways. And I think that coupled with this idea of a woman having a voice in this industry is going to be really strong for a lot of female readers going forward, because I mean, a lot of times have changed in these last 10 years. Misogyny is still there, but not as big. There’s still issues with people of colour being able to find their safe space in the industry. That’s getting better. The same way that mental health is becoming a little bit more appropriate to discuss.
I am always happy to share that I’ve been recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and to me maybe 10 years ago that would’ve been, I felt like a social stigma. And now I’m like hey there’s a lot of things that make a lot of sense about my life right now, and I’m really happy to have a grasp mentally about where I can control and focus and go to therapy and all those things. And I’m way less ashamed to tell anyone these stories. And I feel that this book gives a lot of openness to talking freely about mental health. And I think that’s a nice change that has happened post pandemic. In the last decade, there’s just been this place where it’s not stigmatized to be like, Hey, yeah, I suffer from depression, anxiety, whatever it might be. And so I think that’s going to be very relatable for a lot of readers going forward.
Natalie MacLean (17:07):
That feels healing for you to just even say that, Calla. Absolutely. Thank you. I feel less alone. I feel like I don’t want to try to throw around too many cliches, but just that saying we can talk about it now because in the book I talk about taking Zoloft, which is for anxiety and depression. And therapy. I open my therapy sessions too in the book and what I learned. So again, that it’s a takeaway for readers, but just talking about it openly, and it is amazing. You may have found this, Calla, when people start talking about it or you start talking about this is actually what’s happening to me, the stories you get back from friends, from families you never knew. And then I’m getting the emails now from early readers and it’s moving me so deeply that they’re saying I feel seen and heard.
Calla Bischoff (18:02):
As much as this book is a departure from your other two books, which were a little bit more wine focused obviously, you’ve really created a really big safe space with this book.
Natalie MacLean (18:11):
Calla Bischoff (18:11):
For a lot of people, even if it’s just not about mental health, maybe if it’s just about suffering through a divorce or if it’s just about being a female in an industry. And you’ve done a couple very difficult industries for women to be part of. You started in tech a long time ago and then moved to wine, and so you’re really picking the right ones here [laughter]..
Natalie MacLean (18:32):
I know. I mean, what is up with that? I went from Brave New World High Tech, where it was the motto was fail forward faster, like iterate, iterate, iterate we don’t have time for anything. To the set of Downton Abbey where it’s like don’t change anything. All the rules are the rules. But it still had those common themes for women. And the challenges were oddly the same, but they are in a lot of industries.
Calla Bischoff (18:54):
There really is no industry that I feel like is perfectly safe from a lot of these struggles that we have. Some seem to be bigger than others. And to touch on something you talk about again in the book, the idea of finding moderation in your life when it comes to wine or to alcohol in general. We hear a lot of horror stories from the service industry in general just because there is access to things that make people not think as clearly. And so it almost becomes both an excuse, oh I was too drunk last night so I said something inappropriate or I touched you when I shouldn’t have. It becomes an excuse and a way to get around some of these bad practices. But when you’re surrounded by it, I liked how you talked about finding your moderation to still do what you love, but make it more about a passion again rather than a crutch to fall back on.
Natalie MacLean (19:47):
Exactly. And I started loving wine just for the pure sensory delight, and I had to come kind of full circle to get back to that. No, this isn’t a twitch fix for when you’re feeling anxious during the arsenic hour, five o’clock when our serotonin naturally dips and we want to either take arsenic or give it to somebody around us. But yeah, I think it’s a long shift. I mean, over-drinking started in response really to my divorce and this online attack. Fortunately, it was I think situational in that it was triggered by these events. And through many, many hours and years of therapy that still continues today, I’ve been able to moderate it because it’s just wine is such a joy for me. I don’t want to give it up, but I have many, many techniques now before I have a glass of wine asking myself. What was the thought before the thought that said, I want to a drink? Was it oh I want to have this Pinot Noir that I think it’ll be great. I’m going to slip it slowly. It’s going to be with dinner. Or was it, I’m tired, I did too much email, I deserve a drink.
Kara Ferreira (20:58):
I think that’s a really wonderful exploration that you sort of talk about in several different points throughout the book because part of the story is sort of the incident and this terrible vintage year and sort of your reaction to it, and then sort of finding your equilibrium and balance and coming out the other side. But I really did appreciate that. I feel like so much of what’s out there is you have a problem drinking or you have a problem drinking, you just don’t drink. That’s the end. There really isn’t any exploration of this middle ground, and I think we can all admit and it’s exactly as you’re saying. It’s sort of what’s bringing you to the alcohol. But if we don’t all talk about that and that. It’s not just this thing that’s always easy all the time. We’re always in perfect moderation, then you don’t get to talk about some of those tools and things that can help everyone just sort of achieve more moderation and still be able to enjoy alcohol.
Natalie MacLean (21:44):
Exactly. Not like eating. You have to eat. You don’t have to drink. So I think we’ve developed this black and white attitude but for some people it is the case. So again, just a note, some people do have to remove alcohol from their lives completely, but I think there is a lot of area in the middle for people to employ a lot of different techniques to help them moderate their consumption, yet still enjoy wine.
I mean, another thing I do is open a full bottle of wine and I’ll pour half of it into a clean, empty bottle, and then I don’t feel like I’m wasting or it’s going to go bad or I have to drink the whole thing or whatever. But there’s lots of tips. It’s not meant to be a self-help book, but there are things that I share in terms of how I dealt with it.
But going back to an earlier point that you made, Calla, the hospitality industry is actually known as the industry that has the highest rate of substance misuse, I think it is disorder. I don’t think they say abuse anymore, but I always trip my tongue over with substance misuse disorder because it’s readily available. We have the cloak of saying it’s a professional duty. I have to be tasting these wines at this. You don’t have to swallow, but you can hide under that. Yeah, so perfect cover.
Calla Bischoff (22:54):
I’ve been a wine supplier for about eight years. Prior to that, I did a little stuff with production at a distillery, whatever, but I’ve been on the side of sales for wine for quite some time now. And I look back at younger Calla and recognize that there was access and it was exciting. And my thought, my job seemed really sexy and cool because all my friends were like oh you just get to drink wine all day. I’m like, hell yeah. But then I was just like, oh I had be in these wine tasting events or trade shows with the industry changing. It still hasn’t changed all the way. A lot of older white men and a lot of access to alcohol. And there’s one day where I just looked around and I was like there’s a lot of really sleezy looking things happening in this room right now, and I am also putting myself in this situation by lowering my inhibitions or just making myself more open to something that I don’t necessarily want at all.
Kara Ferreira (23:49):
Yeah, very much less aware. And as I’ve aged in the sales role, I have noticed significantly how much I’ve cut back at alcohol at work events versus when I’m out with my friends or something. Yes, I still have the nights where I go out on a Friday night and binge drink with my buddies. But I’ve noticed when it came to work, I kept looking at it like, you know what you want to keep this job. You don’t put yourself in risky situations in general. Not saying that it would be my fault if I was there, but just in general drinking and driving, being stuck in a room with someone I don’t want to be and not knowing how to escape it, that kind of stuff. And so I found that healthy medium as well at work while still being able to take my clients out and open a bottle of our wine.
Natalie MacLean (24:31):
Yeah, exactly. And women are, I think often at a disadvantage, especially if you’re going to a nighttime event or a dinner because we are expected to not wear a three piece suit with a tie right up to our neck. We’re wearing dresses and some people, because it’s such a social environment, the restaurant is nice. You get into a nice dress. Again, not that dressing invites abuse.
Calla Bischoff (24:55):
Natalie MacLean (24:56):
But still the standards of even dress for men and women at these events are often different.
Calla Bischoff (25:03):
It is. And I’ve also noticed too, that if you’re out with a group of men, there’s almost this idea that I’ve found – I don’t know if you’ve seen it too – where if I don’t keep pace with them, I am judged somehow for being a lightweight or not being part of the group or whatever it is. And I’ve done this thing many times where I’ve identified the bartender working all night. I’m like, here’s a $20 bill. If shots come out, make my shot look like theirs. If it’s whiskey, give me iced tea. If it’s tequila, give me water. And I could do the thing where I participated and I looked like I was part of this group without lowering any, just staying as sober as I could all night.
Natalie MacLean (25:43):
That is great.
Calla Bischoff (25:45):
Yeah, it was annoying at the same time. I mean, I love that I stayed on top of everything, but this idea that I had to prove my worth by drinking shot for shot with grown men was just.
Plus also you’re also petite.
Thank you, Kara. I’ve been working out [laughter]. I’m 5’5. There’s some body sizes that changed their, but I just like, Hey, look, I stayed out all night with the clients and I showed them a good time, and I put the corporate credit card down at the end of the night and everyone’s happy and I’m sober, and nothing bad happened to me.
Natalie MacLean (26:19):
That’s fantastic. And you both know probably that women, our body, not only do we have generally lower body weight than men, but we’re more fat, less muscle. So the alcohol goes into our blood bloodstream very quickly, passes through fat more easily. But even going back to that situation that you’re describing, Calla, you don’t want to be viewed as a lightweight, and there’s so much stereotyping around women and their drinking, whether in these business situations or elsewhere. You can beat me if you want, but you’ve got the bitch pours: Pinot Grigio, Rosé, Prosecco. So they’re all the lightweight wines that have low alcohol. They’re not your sophisticated sommelier pours. So again, that’s just layer upon layer of what you’re dealing with when you’re out in these situations.
Calla Bischoff (27:05):
It’s a nice segue into some things that you talked about here where you talk about the way that men write about wine and. Whiskey was one of them where this sexualized concept of a slender, sleek white wine or something like that it’s just, and then a robust red. There’s this idea of how have we gendered wine now? What is the point of gendering wine?
Natalie MacLean (27:31):
And yet it’s always been there, a feminine and masculine wine. I mean, the whiskey writer went far, far beyond that to sexual conquest.
Calla Bischoff (27:40):
That was uncomfortable.
Yeah, that was infuriating. It was uncomfortable.
Natalie MacLean (27:45):
He talked about a 40 year old Canadian. I haven’t had one like this. And anyway, I won’t keep going with the sexism sewage. But yeah, it’s just almost, I don’t know if it emerged from wine culture or where all these terms, but they’ve been around a long, long time in terms of describing wines masculine and feminine and everything that goes along with that. Muscular, sleek, svelte. I mean, not everything has to be sexualized, but there’s a lot of terminology in wine that is that I haven’t heard in the same way say for food or other things that we describe.
Calla Bischoff (28:19):
No, I’ve never heard an asparagus be called slender and sexy [laughter]. If someone called that to me, I’d be like, okay, are we into food porn here? I have no idea what is happening right now [laughter]. It is very, very interesting. We’ll take a quick break for one of our second icebreaker questions here, because we’ve been talking about the idea of moderation and drinking. We know you drink wine, obviously, if there was a guilty pleasure when it comes to alcohol, like a sugary piña colada or something, is there one out there for you?
Natalie MacLean (28:47):
Okay, so first of all, I spend all my alcoholic units on wine. I don’t drink other alcohol, so this is something I’m measuring closely. But a guilty pleasure would be more a food pairing with the wine than just the wine itself. I love a bone dry rose from the Tavel Valley in Rhone, but I discovered the most beautiful weird match with ketchup chips and Rosé. Bone, dry Rosé and ketchup chips.
Calla Bischoff (29:13):
Well, you’re Canadian. You get ketchup chips. We don’t get those out in the US.
Natalie MacLean (29:16):
We do. Yeah. So you’ll have to import or come visit us for our specialties of ketchup chips and poutine.
Calla Bischoff (29:23):
My parents lived in Montreal for six or seven years. It was the last seven years of my dad’s career. His company purchased a company in Montreal. He went up there to help transition this company. Anyway, so they spent seven years up there and I was living in New Hampshire five-ish hour drive from New Hampshire to Montreal to visit my parents on the weekend. And I would just come back with. One of my favourite beers in the world is from Canada, and I would come back with that and I would come back with ketchup chips. That was always my thing. That’s good.
Natalie MacLean (29:51):
And they’re delicious. I mean, I love ketchup. It has more sugar per volume than ice cream, but so I thought…
Calla Bischoff (29:57):
I did not realize that. Shoot.
Natalie MacLean (29:59):
Surprising fact about ketchup, but I thought because it actually has so much sweetness, it’s countered by the salt, so you really do have a coronary special in ketchup. But I thought because the sugar is so high in ketchup, it’s going to make the Rosé taste terrible, especially bone dry one. But it did not because there was a savoury, I don’t know fake or real tomato taste to these chips and it was so good. I mean, it was just like strawberry fields forever. I love the combination. I still do it.
Calla Bischoff (30:30):
And can you pronounce the name of the region again for us?
Natalie MacLean (30:34):
Calla Bischoff (30:35):
Tavel. Awesome. Calla, we butchered that pronunciation on the Rhone episode.
We just did Rhone, we recorded it last week.
Natalie MacLean (30:41):
Just say it with conviction.
Calla Bischoff (30:43):
Natalie MacLean (30:45):
Calla Bischoff (30:46):
When you said that, I was like, ah crap, because I made sure to. I made a point about talking about this region because I remember it from when I took my Certified Specialist in Wine when I was 21. I remember the question asking what AOC was known Rosé. Usually I was like, I just kept saying Tavel, Tavel. Tavel [laughter]. We once did a Scotch episode, where we pronounced Islay.
Natalie MacLean (31:14):
I used to say it like that, too. And I’m Scottish, for goodness sake.
Calla Bischoff (31:17):
Natalie MacLean (31:19):
Calla Bischoff (31:20):
The whole episode. Islay, Islay, Islay. And my friend’s husband, who’s Scottish, was like Calla. And I was like, I La.
Natalie MacLean (31:28):
You would never get that from the spelling. It is Islay on the spelling.
Calla Bischoff (31:31):
We could have done our due diligence and maybe researched the pronunciation. But that just seemed. We figured it wasn’t French. We’d be fine.
Calla Bischoff (31:40):
Yeah, we don’t have any listeners in Scotland anymore. Maybe you can bring that back for us having your Scottish background.
Natalie MacLean (31:51):
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Calla and Kara. In the show notes, you’ll find the full transcript of my conversation with them, links to their website and podcast, the video versions of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube live, and where you can order my book online now no matter where you live, as well as the links to my three upcoming wine tasting and book launch events. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMacLean.com/251. Email me if you have a sip, tip, question or if you’ve read my book or are in the process of reading it at [email protected]. I would love to hear from you.
If you’ve missed episode 41, go back and take a listen. I chat about traveling to various wine destinations with Food Network TV host Kevin Brauch. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Kevin Brauch (32:41):
There’s a lack of bravery around wine for people that don’t know about wine. Just remember in the room, it was like what does it taste like? And people are afraid to say cotton candy, but we know that that’s one of the culinary descriptors or candy in and of itself, earth, wet leaves. We know all of these things. People are afraid to save them for the first time, and yet once you do you’re so empowered. The wine tastes to you like the wine tastes to you.
I can read the label. I can read what Robert Parker thinks of this wine. I can read what Billy Munnelly, who I adore and love thinks of this wine, but at the end of the day, I’m only left with me. It’s daunting. Nobody says that with beer. Like guys don’t drink beer and say I get a little bit of the hops from the seashore by Seattle [laughter] and the nose of dog hair.
Natalie MacLean (33:45):
If you like this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone who’d be interested in the wines, tips, and stories we shared. You won’t want to miss next week when we continue our chat with Kara and Calla. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a heartbreakingly beautiful Pinot Noir.
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full bodied 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.