Romantic Poets & Wine and Why Champagne on Ordinary Days with Lori Budd

Aug31st

Introduction

How does John Keats connect the romantic poets to wine? Why should you consider Champagne for other occasions outside of big celebrations? How do you handle the sting of rejection as an up-and-coming writer?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m being interviewed by Lori Budd, winemaker, writer and host of the Exploring The Wine Glass podcast.

You can find the wines we discussed here.

 

Join me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Live Video

Join the live-stream video of this conversation on Wednesday at 7 pm eastern on Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video or YouTube Live Video.

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?

Want to know when we go live?

Add this to your calendar:

 

 

 

Highlights

  • How does John Keats connect my studies of romantic poets with my career in wine?
  • What unexpected beauty can you find in cemeteries across the world?
  • Which enduring traits do I attribute to my years of Highland dancing?
  • How did I find my way to wine?
  • What makes wine such a great medium for building connections?
  • Which wine memory stands out the most in my career so far?
  • Why is my love for writing central in everything I do in my career?
  • How do you handle the sting of rejection as an up-and-coming writer?
  • What was it like to be awarded World’s Best Wine Writer?
  • Which unforgettable experiences did I have while researching Red, White, and Drunk All Over?
  • Why is listening to audiobooks now my favourite way to “read”?

 

Start The Conversation: Click Below to Share These Wine Tips

 

About Lori Budd

Lori Budd began her career as a microbiologist, but her need for excitement led her into Adventure Education, teaching students how to rock climb, zip line and tie those all important survival knots. Along the way, she fell in love with wine and graduated from the prestigious UC Davis enology program, along with certifications from a number of other wine programs. She and her husband, Michael, own Dracaena Wines in Paso Robles. She’s consumed by the stories that unfold as each glass is poured, and shares those in her award-winning blog and podcast called Exploring the Glass.

 

Resources

 

Tag Me on Social

Tag me on social media if you enjoyed the episode:

 

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.

 

Transcript

Natalie MacLean 0:00
When I talk about my love of wine, it’s not an analysis of it. I want to lose myself in my subject and capture that feeling that wine gives us into words, and yet not reduce it down to fruit salad, and a number. The heartbreaker was that Keats didn’t want his name on his tombstone. He wrote here lies one whose name was writ in water. And that inspired me to draft my own tombstone inscription here lies one whose name shall be consumed with wine. Would that we all had a good friend, who will remember us and with whom we can share a good glass of wine.

Lori Budd 0:36
That is the best tie end story. That is truly the best tie in story ever.

Natalie MacLean 0:43
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine, the 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 196. How does John Keats connect the Romantic poets to wine? Why should you consider Champagne for other occasions outside of big celebrations? And how do you handle the nasty sting of rejection as an up and coming writer? You’ll hear those tips and stories. As I chat with Lori Budd winemaker, writer and host of Exploring The Wine Glass podcast. Lori is actually interviewing me in this episode. Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show with the continuing saga of publishing my new wine memoir Wine Witch on Fire:  Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation and Drinking Too Much. As I mentioned last week, I’m now into the copy editing phase for the book. Here are a few more things I’m doing to give it that extra buff and polish. I’m looking for overused words and phrases. Not only are these boring and annoying to readers, but it also means I’m on autopilot as a writer and need to dig deeper to find new ways to express myself. Stock phrases can also be a defence mechanism against revealing more vulnerable thoughts and feelings. I’m also trying to get rid of words that put a wall between the reader and me such as thought, saw, realized, new, started to, for example. Instead of saying I saw that mom had laid out the glassware on the table. Rephrase that to mom’s glassware on the table glinted in the morning sunlight. In the first sentence, you’re seeing the glassware through my eyes. That’s a filter. In the second sentence, you’re seeing the glassware for yourself. You’re right in the scene. I’ll share more of these next week. I’d love to hear from you. How do you improve your writing? I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the show notes at NatalieMaclean.com/196. This is also 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 you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at [email protected] Okay, on with the show.

Lori Budd 3:57
Hey everybody, welcome welcome. Welcome to a another episode of Allure of the Pour sponsored by Dracaena Wines. I am your host Lori and today I am very honoured to have a very special guest Natalie Maclean from up north. So welcome, Natalie, how are you?

Natalie MacLean 4:18
It’s great to be here, Lori. I’m sure it’s a lot warmer where you are, but wine will keep us warm.

Lori Budd 4:22
Wine will keep us warm. And sadly enough we just got an Amazon alert that we are going into a freeze warning for the next three days. So I don’t know if it’s warmer or not but it’s whoa I like when that alert comes off on Amazon. I’m like Hello. Hello. Are you sure you’re talking about the right area?

Natalie MacLean 4:42
Exactly.

Lori Budd 4:44
Luckily we have wine and it will keep us warm. Mm hmm. All right. So again, I am so honoured to have you on the podcast. My pleasure. Anybody who thinks wine your name comes up synonymously with it. Whether they’re up north in Canada or in the United States, it must be an incredible feeling to be so recognized with wine. Like it must feel like quite the accomplishment first of all, right?

Natalie MacLean 5:15
Well, thank you. I feel like you know, sometimes as a big fish swimming in a very tiny pond in terms of wine lovers are a very specific group, but I love them. They’re my people. You’re my people, of course, Laurie. But no, over time, I just love connecting with people in all the different ways that we can these days, whether it’s online or through books, or whatever. That’s my jam.

Lori Budd 5:33
That is awesome. And we’re gonna get into wine, obviously. But before we get into what I just have to ask, you actually studied Romantic poets at Oxford. That is, I mean, almost a 180 from wine right, you know. So, how did you get into romantic poets? And then we have to know who your favourite poet is.

Natalie MacLean 5:57
Okay, absolutely. So hands down. It was John Keats. And I have a story about him, Lori, that will actually magically tie together the Romantic poets and wine. So this is from my memoir that I’m currently writing, but I’d love to share it with you if you’re good with that. Yeah. All right. Okay. So several years ago, I was on a walking tour Rome’s lesser known food haunts with my partner Miles and my son, and I was thrilled when we accidentally came across Keats his burial place. And his tombstone was tucked away in a remote corner of this graveyard. And it was inscribed with his quote Ode to a Grecian Urn. That’s when he’s best known for I think. Beauty is truth, truth, beauty. That is all you need to know on Earth. And all you need to know. Something like that I’m mangling and even so call me morbid, but I think walking through a graveyard on our way to tea shop made perfect sense, because we were blending life and death and eating and satiation. In my first two books, and in my writing, I adopted kind of the New Journalism approach to writing. So what they believed, like Joan Didion, and Truman Capote was do the thing you write about. And so instead of interviewing a sommelier, I became one for a night, you know, so that I could get a deeper, richer experience to write about, you know. I worked in a wine store. I work the harvest. And we could talk more about that later. But my earliest inspiration, Lori was actually Keats because his work was the subject of my final paper at Oxford, and particularly his belief in what he called negative capability. So he tried to forget himself and become one with his subject, like the urn. And he was trying to capture that pure experience in words. So truth for him was the earned beauty itself, not some cold, distant, objective analysis of the urn. And so I really resonated with that, like when I talk about my love of wine, it’s not an analysis of it. I really want to lose myself in my subject and capture that feeling that wine gives us into words, and yet not reduce it down to fruit salad and a number. So I’ll wrap this long winded story up. The heartbreaker was that keeps didn’t want his name on his tombstone. He felt that he had contributed nothing to the world before he died at just 25 years old to be. And also on his tombstone, he wrote here lies one whose name was writ in water, and was really melancholy sentiment because he thought everyone would forget about him. And that inspired me to draft my own tombstone inscription. All right. Here lies one in time whose name shall be consumed with wine. So several decades later, Keith’s good friend Joseph Severn died and he arranged for his tombstone to be placed next to Keats to indicate that the nameless tombstone beside him belonged to the immortal English poet, ensuring that future generations would know keeps his burial place. An all I can say is with that we all had a good friend, who will remember us, and with whom we can share a good glass of wine.

Lori Budd 9:02
That is the best tie in story. That is truly the best tired story ever.

Natalie MacLean 9:10
On thank, I though it was a stretch but I tried to lasso them together.

Lori Budd 9:13
And by the way, going through cemeteries is actually one of my favourite things to do whatever we go away. They’re just more beautiful there. There’s something beautiful about them. But there are some areas here in the United States that just have, you know, the older cemeteries. And do you know, there’s a term for cemetery lover without being a wizard. It is a taphophile. I found that out when we went to Scotland, and oh, the beautiful cemeteries there. And we were going through them all and we do we travel all over. We were in Rome. We were going through the cemeteries looking for the famous people and just walking through them because there’s something peaceful about them. Really, they’re beautiful. They’re elegant. They’re beautiful, and have you think about what these people’s lives were like. So it’s kind of like a reflection on even though I don’t know who you are I’m appreciating you as a person because I’m taking time to look at your stone.

Natalie MacLean 10:12
Absolutely. And there’s another new term that you might like. Hobbyists who go and visit graveyards, it’s called graving. And there’s a whole tourism industry getting built up around graving. So we’re off to a morbid start here, but I think it’s a perfect combination with wine because there’s something immortal about wine. There’s something you always remember where you were with a memorable bottle. Absolutely. And I just love you know, like, I visited Evita’s tombstone when I went to Buenos Aires to write about Argentine wine. Wow, yeah, I loved it. And the very vicious cat surround, hungry Cat surrounding her tombstone. Couldn’t get too close. But you know, I visited graveyards, even when I was on assignment for something completely different, and didn’t write about it, but it’s a little heartbreaking. But sometimes the tiny tombstones of children and the right beside their families and there’s a story there. It’s amazing.

Lori Budd 11:03
Yeah, absolutely. I agree. And some of my friends are like, that’s a little strange. You go to cemeteries that I’m like, Just try it. Yeah. It really is an amazing feeling. I think you get to get a sense of those people who were there and trying to sense how they were and you’re right, the families are all around.

Natalie MacLean 11:23
It’s a reminder of our own mortality. I don’t think it’s morbid at all. It’s like carpe diem, seize the day. You’re on top of the ground now, but soon you’ll join us. Absolutely. Live life. Life’s too short for a bad bottle of wine, etc.

Lori Budd 11:36
Exactly, exactly. And that is so true, right. And that goes to my saying of, I will never tell you what to drink, but I’ll always share what’s in my glass, right? If you like the wine, drink it, and if its in my glass, it will be in your glass too, if you want it.

Natalie MacLean 11:52
That’s a great approach. Lori.

Lori Budd 11:55
So again, I was blown away. You know, I say all the time that you know, I’m like the little Googler. And I’m like, you know, stalking the person when I go to interview them. But I find out these cool things that I’m like, Okay, we have to talk about this. Highland dancing. Yeah. Oh my god, I absolutely love it. Bagpipes and me. Like, it’s such an amazing sound. It goosebumps. Everything. So how did you get into that?

Natalie MacLean 12:25
You say bagpipes that brings back another story for me. I was interviewed by a local radio reporter at a Highland Games when I was about nine years old. And he said you must really like the sound of bagpipes, eh? And I said no. They sound like cat screaming. Back the cats. I practice with Whitney Houston at home. Whitney Houston music so but I think my stance on bagpipe music has softened since then it was just probably way too loud. But I’m with you. When I listened to like Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre, I can’t help but tear up. It’s just so beautiful. But they need to be in a distance. Not right up beside you.

Lori Budd 13:00
They can be piercing if you’re right there. They’re right there when you’re dancing.

Natalie MacLean 13:04
Exactly, exactly. And you’re under stress. So it’s probably some sort of psychosomatic association I have with bagpipes and competing, but Highland dancing gave me the gifts of focus and discipline, and you know, a maniacal work ethic. So I’ll forever be grateful to having done that for I guess it was close to 18 years. And then I opened a dance school when I was younger. So that got me through university. So it gave me many gifts.

Lori Budd 13:32
It’s such a unique form of dancing. And I don’t know it’s repetitive, but not in a bad way. Like a viewer. you get lulled in, and you just start like looking and I don’t know, again, with the bagpipes there. It just resonates with me. It goes more so than I think any other instrument.

Natalie MacLean 13:53
That’s because you’re back on the stand.

Lori Budd 13:57
That is true. Yeah, I can give you that. I can give you that. All right, now that we’re done with them, or we could actually get into the wine. I always need to know the origin story. So how did you find your way to wine or how did wine find you?

Natalie MacLean 14:15
That’s a good way to put it. So after I met my husband, we both did the same MBA programme. We moved to Toronto, and we wanted to find something to do as a couple in the evenings. He was on Bay Street, which is our equivalent to Wall Street. I worked at Proctor and Gamble, like Crisco and Duncan Hines and Pringles. So we worked long hours and we wanted to find something after work we could do together and so at first we tried Spanish lessons and conjugating verbs after a long day at work was just a no go. I would like to be able to say the Spanish equivalent of no go Nova or whatever, but I can’t even remember. Nova. Okay, so one thing stuck with us. It’s stuck with me there. We also try Golf. But for Type A personalities with long iron clubs in hand, that was not a good formula either. We just got so frustrated and stressed out. But then I saw in this brochure that came to our house, a wine course. So we could take a wine course at night, I thought, yes we could drink for sure. And that’ll be relaxing. And you know, we both loved wine. We knew nothing about it. So we enrolled in this wine course. And it was so much fun. But I remember the first night, they poured like, I don’t know, seven samples of only an ounce or two. But like, you know, I’d had a long day at work. So I just knock them all back. And you know, the equivalent of a glass or whatever it would have been. And then I looked around, saw no one else was doing that. It was so embarrassed. It was like my introduction to tasting, not drinking, slow down. But anyway, we loved it. I continued on and completed a sommelier certificate programme. And my husband did not, but he just, you know, defaulted to me on the wine choices after that.

Lori Budd 16:02
That’s fantastic. And I think that’s so what brings a lot of couples together, you know, over wine or whiskey or whatever it is. It’s because you’re sitting down and it’s something that you’re sharing between you that is exactly the same. Yes. And it slows you down. Yeah, it slows you down. It gives you something to talk about. And even though it’s the same exact wine that’s in your glass, you have different perspectives of what it is. And it’s not I say, blue, and you say orange, so we’re going to argue over it. It’s like, you know, it’s like, oh, really, I think it’s more of this field or I think it’s red fruit. It’s a strawberry. Now, I think it’s a cherry, okay, we can agree with that.

Natalie MacLean 16:42
Exactly. And then you get into food pairings or whatever or memorable bottles from where you travel. Because those come back to me immediately. Because as you know, smell and taste are directly tied to memory and emotion. And so I will remember the first time we had a certain bottle. And it seems weird sometimes that that comes back immediately. But I don’t think so with the way our brains are wired. For me, it’s easy to remember exactly the first time I had certain wines.

Lori Budd 17:08
Absolutely. And we have a little display if you can call it that of those memorable wines, the bottles, you know. And when you look at that bottle, it brings back that memory of instantaneous.

Natalie MacLean 17:22
Exactly. You remember where you were. The context. I remember what we were wearing. You know, the food we were eating, where we were sitting, say in a restaurant anyway, it just all unfolds.

Lori Budd 17:31
So that actually leads right into my next question is give us a story of one of your most memorable wines and why it was so memorable. What about it?

Natalie MacLean 17:43
I’m sure this is a memory from my first book Red, White and Drunk All Over. So I had the privilege of visiting the champagne house, Louis Roederer. And they make Cristal which is beautiful, beautiful top notch champagne. So I remember sitting in this elegant drawing room. And you know that was burgundy brocade like burgundy velvet drapes and brocade ropes and all the rest of it. And I stared really thirstily at the bottle of 1995 Cristal that my host was opening. And she said, I’m so glad you came to visit because we don’t get to drink Cristal very often because Cristal is on allocation, every bottle is sold before it’s shipped. And it’s kind of a favourite, bubbly, dating back to like the Emperor Alexander, the Tsar of Russia in 1837, to rap stars like Jay Z who’s mentioned it in some of his songs. So it has a long history, and it’s very coveted. But I think like the way we enjoyed it, Champagne is the drink of celebration, you know, weddings, birthdays, and so on. But it’s also, for me a very intimate ritual that can transport you to a very, very private world. And I just loved it. I felt that way as we were, as we were sipping on our Cristal there was an Adagio of the senses is kind of what I wrote about in Red, White and Drunk All Over. So there was that cold sweating bottle, the glinting stemware, the frothy pour, the small wrist action of raising the glass, and that sort of ocean spritz on your face, and then the mouth filling flavour. And I just remember thinking as. I’m drooling, so I’m kind of slobbering. But I remember raising the glass to my lips and thinking I am breathing in earth and sky here. And you know the aromas were like pastry wrap pears and honey and spice, and they sort of burst like little beads in my mouth from the bubbles. And, you know, long after I swallowed, I could still feel those sort of ghostly bubbles tickling the roof of my mouth. And I actually wanted to lick my glass when it was empty, but I thought, that’s just undignified behaviour Nat in the presence of this beautiful champagne, so control yourself. Anyway it was beautiful, just a beautiful experience.

Lori Budd 20:05
You mean, this isn’t like the spinner of a chocolate cake?

Natalie MacLean 20:08
Exactly. It was so ah, yeah.

Lori Budd 20:15
That is amazing. I have not had that pleasure of tasting Cristal. But that’s interesting. I didn’t know every bottle was sold before it was even produced. That’s a nice situation to be in.

Natalie MacLean 20:26
Oh yeah it’s great if you’re collecting the money, but you know, I don’t know what they sell for. Because that was my first and last experience of Cristal, but it’s probably close to. It’s somewhere between $500 and $1,000. A bottle something like that is crazy. It’s just crazy. Yeah. Yeah.

Lori Budd 20:43
But you know what, when you have the money, why not?

Natalie MacLean 20:46
Or if somebody’s doing it for you? Absolutely. Absolutely. Second glass, please.

Lori Budd 20:52
And 1995. That’s my husband’s and my wedding anniversary is 1995. So I have always on a mission to find 1995 wines, so that when we have an anniversary I can open a bottle of 1995 wine. Oh, that’s a great idea. But I think I’ll get divorced if I bring that bottle and he realizes how much.

Natalie MacLean 21:14
Oh, this old thing. I had this for a long time. Yeah, dismiss purchases.

Lori Budd 21:19
Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about. So earlier, you had said that you follow in Keats’s theory of be as opposed to observe. Alright, so you are actually an accredited sommelier, a wine writer, a wine speaker, a judge, you do this podcast. I mean, you really do have your hands in everything. So is there one aspect of what you do that you actually like better than others?

Natalie MacLean 21:50
I think writing itself will always be my first love, even though I came to it last. So I took all those sommelier courses first without even thinking I could be paid to write. It was a confidence thing. So I was in marketing. And you know, I loved writing customer success stories. But I never thought, hey, you love this part of your job so much why not try to make it a full time thing. So I hosted wine tastings after I got more confidence. Eventually, I got there. I was on maternity leave. And you know, I pitched a local magazine about wine on the internet when that was actually a story angle. And that led me to other columns and articles and gave me the confidence to say, hey, I can do this full time. But now the books I read and the courses I take they’re all focused on the craft of writing.

Lori Budd 22:42
I know, what do you feel about the confidence. I’m Type B as Type B can be. And I’m a Sagittarius. So like, I am meant to be in the spotlight. Like that is where I enjoy being. But it’s a difficult thing to pitch an article like, I am just getting into the freelance thing. And it’s kind of disheartening. You know, you have this idea, you pitch it, and then crickets. You hear nothing, you know, they accept the article. And then, would you think aha I think I’m a decent writer, everybody tells me I’m a decent writer is that it comes back with like, edit this, edit this, edit this, you know.  And it takes a little of a hard shell to not take it personally. But I understand that I am just getting into that freelance in knowing how to be which I don’t know yet. But knowing how to pitch and get the articles to the magazines that I want them or that I think they should be in or whatever.

Natalie MacLean 23:42
Absolutely, it is an ego shrinking profession to try to write and to keep pitching. And no one sees how many times you go up to bat and you’re just rejected or crickets or whatever. But I guess it’s just the same sort of pathological optimism that some winemakers have, you just keep going and going and going and trying and pitching and pitching.

Lori Budd 24:04
And it’s funny, because on that realm, I’m quite okay with that. Like I get everybody’s not going to love our wine. You know, when you go to pour their bottle it’s always exciting to see their faces. And if we’re out at a restaurant and somebody has our wine, forget it, like I will still be if I’m alive at 100 years old, and I’m still making wine, if somebody’s drinking my wine out, I will be you know ecstatic but you pour the wine, not everybody’s gonna buy that wine that you make. And, you know, you go to a restaurant and they’re like, Nah, it’s just not for our wine list. Okay, it’s okay, so I have a thick skin for that. I just gotta move that over to the writing aspect now.

Natalie MacLean 24:42
Exactly. Yeah, it’s a challenge. When writing is so much a part of us like it comes from inside, just like dance does. I find they’re very similar. When you’re trying to express yourself in a different way than just talking directly on the page or on the dance floor, but it’s very personal.

Lori Budd 24:59
Yeah, absolutely. Really, because you’re really kind of pouring your soul into what you’re writing. And it’s a different form of blood, sweat and tears.

Natalie MacLean 25:06
It is. It is. Absolutely, Lori.

Lori Budd 25:10
All right. Well, you obviously write very well, because you won the World’s Best Wine Writer by the World Food Media Awards in Australia. So, first of all, super kudos. Thank you. Congratulations. But like, tell us about that experience. Like, how did you enter? Where you like I guess I’ll enter? Walk us through that and then finding out that you won this incredible award?

Natalie MacLean 25:35
Well, I used to enter every type of contest as a kid. I think it was the Highland dancing that got me going. But you know, a colouring contest I’m in you know. My secret weapomn by the way was glitter glue. Oh, just Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Won many tickets to movies with glitter glue. So I find it hard to resist a contest. If I feel like I can enter of course I never think I’m going to win. But I will go up to bat. But for this one, I was on assignment with Air Canada, our major airline. And that was a good gig. So they fly you first class when you’re writing for their airline magazine. So I my assignment.

Lori Budd 26:12
Oh, I have to put that in the background. Hey, United. Knock, knock, knock.

Natalie MacLean 26:16
Exactly. So they flew me to Australia. And I was to go to all the top restaurants in Sydney, and eat my heart out, drink my heart out and write about them and then go down to the Hunter Valley, which is only about an hour away, and write about that wine region. And so when I found out I was nominated, I was able to coordinate the trip because the award ceremony was in Adelaide. I had to fly from Sydney to Adelaide. But it was surreal because across all of the categories for the World Food Media Awards, there were about 1000 entries. And in the World’s Best Drinks Journalist category there was an international panel of magazine newspaper editors who had shortlisted nominees that included Gerald Asher, who at the time was writing for Gourmet magazine, Tim Atkins was with the Observer newspaper in England, some of my favourite writers. Chris Orr with Decanter magazine, Huon Hoke with the Sydney Morning Herald. So it was like, okay, I’m here anyway, I’m just gonna go because it’ll probably be very glamorous and they’ll probably be serving some good food and wine. So that night, you know, when they announced my name, I was sitting beside a food journalist, Lucy Waverman. And I literally asked her, did they say my name? And it was like because imposter syndrome anyone? Because I thought, I don’t go to go running down there like an idiot just because I think I heard them say my name. She said, Yes. Get up. So anyway, yeah. You know that just gave me so much confidence. because at that point, I had only been writing about wine for about three years. So that gave me the confidence to enter like the James Beard, and so on. And the point I think of some of these writing competitions is I mean, it’s a nice ego boost. But I think, like the Highland dancing competitions, it’s yet another motivator for me to continue to refine my craft of writing. So there’s just the joy of writing, and that’s the internal motivator. But these external motivators, they help too. So at least that’s the way I look at them.

Lori Budd 28:21
That’s so funny. I could envision you. Wait me? No, did they really just see my name? Really? Pushing me.

Natalie MacLean 28:28
Get out? I couldn’t have. It’s like, yeah, anyway,

Lori Budd 28:34
That is awesome. Yeah, I’m gonna have to check out United and see. What a gig. Where they just advertising to they just?

Natalie MacLean 28:44
Yeah, you find the editor, whoever the main editor is. Cold pitch and yeah and sort of look through with their archives of their articles or online, like, especially food and drink. Take a look at what they’ve done. Because obviously you don’t want to pitch what they’ve recently done. But something, a unique angle somewhere. That obviously it has a big, big travel angle. They want to encourage people to travel to these places.

Lori Budd 29:08
They’re trying to rebuild up Europe now because of the pandemic, right. I’m all for getting there. I’m all for that.

Natalie MacLean 29:13
There you go. Absolutely. Get in there, Lori. Yeah.

Lori Budd 29:17
All right. Mental note there. Mental note. Well, Nat, not only are you an award winning wine writer in terms of articles and things like that, but you’ve written two books, and you mentioned it earlier, but I absolutely love the name Red, White and Drunk All Over:  A Wine Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.

Natalie MacLean 29:38
I take my subject very seriously.

Lori Budd 29:43
Yes you do. You know what, I love it. It’s fantastic. It is fantastic. And so the research for these books must have been so torturous. You were in Burgundy and Champagne.

Natalie MacLean 29:53
No little tiny sympathy violins. No sympathy.

Lori Budd 29:58
You were harvesting with Randall Grahm. I mean, the research.

Natalie MacLean 30:02
My liver for the people.

Lori Budd 30:05
The research must have been torturous. So you know, tell us how torturous it was for that research for this book.

Natalie MacLean 30:12
I don’t know how I can begin to.  So with Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon Winery in Santa Cruz. As I mentioned, I like day in the life. So George Plimpton was another New Journalism journalist. So instead of reporting on football, he played in the NFL to write a book about it. So I’m following the sort of vibe of these crazy cats. And I asked Randall if I could come help with the harvest. And he said sure. The thing about Randall is he kind of approaches winemaking like performance art. So he is posed purple silk cape and mask as the Rhone Ranger for the cover of Wine Spectator magazine. He actually hosted a funeral service for cork in Grand Central Station in New York. It was an open coffin filled with cork, and they had a eulogy and all the food was black, and they paired wine with it and was crazy. So this guy is, but he’s not a nutcase.

Lori Budd 31:08
No he is not.

Natalie MacLean 31:10
He’s so smart. He’s written some books. He’s witty as heck. And I think he really cracks through and get his message across. His influence, I think, on American wine has been profound. And it’s as deep as it is wide because he has been an advocate for less fashionable grapes, experimental winemaking techniques. Of course, unconventional marketing when it comes to wine. And levity, I think importantly in a business that can take itself too seriously. So I went out there, I wanted the full experience. So he said, great, carry the spit bucket. So we did the tank samples. And then he got me hauling hoses. And later that day, we were visiting vineyards, I mean, it was like a nine or 10 hour day. I spent a few days there with him. And I was picking grapes. And the sun was just baking. But it was giving me a sense, a little bit more of an internal sense of what it’s like through the harvest and what makes for good wine. Like when are the grapes ripe? How do you taste that? And so all of these things came out in that experience, even though it’s a bit zany as well.

Lori Budd 32:13
I love him. I think he is brilliant beyond brilliant. And the things he does are well conceived in his brain. He knows what that outcome is going to be from that what he’s going to do. And yeah, he’s not crazy at all. He is beyond brilliant. And I love how much dedication he does to the research. And, to like you were saying, the under appreciated grapes and things like that. He really has helped the wine industry as a whole in such an amazing way. He has. And the research must have been not too bad because the book was chosen the Best Wine Literature Book. So another award for you. So how, you just keep racking up. Do you have a room of all these awards?

Natalie MacLean 33:01
They’re all in a box somewhere downstairs. It’s like we moved, it’s like, I am not putting these things up again. Its a lot of work. Anyway, it’s gratifying. But again, it’s the other thing too that competition can do is spread the word. So you know, publishing a book these days is a slog, I’ll tell you like, not looking for pity. The research is fun, but actually trying to sell a book is very difficult. Like publishers don’t have a marketing budget anymore. Book tours are a thing of the past. They either don’t have the budget or you know, COVID did away with that. So I’m in the process of writing my third book, which is a memoir. Quite different from the first two. And these awards can help spread the word about a book just like you know, the Oscars do about movies. They get a spike in sales or ticket box office. They’re very useful as marketing tools as well these days.

Lori Budd 33:51
And the whole publishing thing I get like, I think books have a sadly have fallen by the wayside.  I don’t know how it is in Canada, but in America, it seems you know, first of all, it went to Kindle or you know, I call everything a Kindle, even though it’s not really a Kindle. I’ve got to ask you as an author, how do you feel about that? Like paper in your hand versus the electronic? Do you have a preference since you are the author?

Natalie MacLean 34:20
Well, I love paper books. I almost used to think of ebooks, whether they’re on tablets or Kindles or wherever, are not real books. But how do you sign a Kindle book. Signings like really don’t work? Let me get a marker on your device there. But the format that I increasingly love best, Lori, are audiobooks because of course you and I are audio people. We have podcasts. So the format that gets me most excited especially for this upcoming memoir is audio because I think it’s such an intimate medium with the voice and you know, we co create the theatre of the mind you know as we read. And I don’t know, I think there’s something there that goes back to childhood and being read stories by your parents that evokes that sort of closeness and that coziness.

Lori Budd 35:13
You do our own readings, right? Yeah, your audiobooks are your own readings? Yes. I stock well don’t I?

Natalie MacLean 35:21
You are scary good. I applaud your stocking.

Lori Budd 35:26
And that’s got to be difficult. I think about, I very rarely do a podcast where it’s me talking only. I prefer talking to people. I do too. But those rare podcast where I’m just reading my script, first of all, I go off my own script. I’m the one who writes it. And I go off script half the time, but it takes me 10 times as long to do that podcast, even though it’s much shorter than an interview podcast. I mean, you’re the one who wrote it. You know what you wrote, but your brain starts going off and your memories start coming back, right and then. It’s true. I don’t know. Must be interesting to do an audiobook. And then that’s another thing you have to get used to your own voice when you have a podcast.

Natalie MacLean 36:07
That’s true. That’s true. Yeah, the audiobook is it is a gruelling process because it’s an average book of say,300 pages is probably anywhere from five to eight finished hours. But you’re going to double or triple that in terms of recording. Yeah. Because lots of editing and all the rest of it. So it’s just like, I would just get my mouth would get sore by the end. We do like three hours at a time. And I just get totally dried up and I go for a nap in the afternoon. It was like Oh My God.

Lori Budd 36:37
Understandably, understandably.

Natalie MacLean 36:47
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Lori. In the show notes you’ll find my email contact the full transcript of my conversation with Lori, links to her podcast and website and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. You’ll also find a link to my free Ultimate Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMaclean.com/196. Email me if you have a sip, tip, question or want to be a beta reader of my new wine memoir at [email protected] You won’t want to miss next week when we continue our chat with Lori. In the meantime, if you missed episode 181 go back and take a listen. This time I’m interviewing Lori about Bordeaux wines, politics and the wine Monstrell and Spanish food pairings. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite. You were in Bordeaux, you participated in the en premier tasting.

Lori Budd 37:52
It was a once in a lifetime experience. You get to taste the wine that is bottled from barrel and you’re tasting the wines prior to their release. All of these premiere tasters are there and they rate the wines. This is what allows them to determine what price point they will do. And it also allows them to sell the wine before it’s even released, which is

Natalie MacLean 38:16
Brilliant marketing. It’s kind of like a futures market.

Lori Budd 38:19
Exactly. It’s the original futures market is what it is.

Natalie MacLean 38:27
If you liked this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines and stories we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a refreshing glass of Champagne for no other reason than you that like it. 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.

 

Comments

comments