Seafood Pairings, Flying Corks, Sober Curious



This past Friday, in a scene not unfamiliar to Champagne lovers everywhere, one Wimbledon spectator lost control of his cork, which then made it’s way onto the court and stopped the men’s match. But not to worry, I’ve got you covered.  On today’s episode, I’m sharing the exact method you can use to avoid disaster when opening your bubbly.

We’re also going to talk about another challenge for many wine lovers – pairing wine with seafood. From cod to oysters, salmon and more, I’m giving you my best insider tips to help you find a pairing you’ll love. Finally we’re going to explore the new trend of sober curious wine drinkers as reported in the New York Times recently. This last bit is controversial, and I get real honest about my own drinking. I’d love for you to share your questions or comments with me. You can do that in the comments on the show notes post or email me at [email protected]. Enjoy!



  • How did Champagne corks end up on the court during a Wimbledon match?
  • Is Champagne a popular beverage at Wimbledon?
  • How fast can a Champagne cork really travel?
  • Is there a correct way to open a bottle of bubbly?
  • Why don’t I follow the traditional rules for pairing seafood and wine?
  • What wine pairings do I recommend for white fish, salmon, meaty fish and oysters?
  • Are there any insider tips for pairing wine and seafood?
  • How does the sauce used with seafood affect the wine choice?
  • Why am I so intrigued by the concept of sober curious?
  • What does it mean to be sober curious?
  • How do I think about alcoholism?
  • Why is it important to have different options for dealing with alcohol addiction?
  • Why do I think an interesting life is lived in the grey zone?
  • What role does wine and moderation play in gender-related issues?




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Transcript & Takeaways

Welcome to episode 34!

As you know, I interview celebrities from the wine world every second week on this podcast. Last week was with Mary Ewing-Mulligan, the brilliant Master of Wine who wrote the Wine for Dummies book, and next week will be Chris Scott from the U.K. who has some incredible tips on tasting wine. In between those interviews, I share the juiciest bits from my Facebook live video show with you here.

Today, I’m going to chat with you about the challenge of how to pair wine with seafood, the real dangers of flying champagne corks if you don’t open a bottle of bubbly properly (I’ll tell you how) and how one cork stopped the men’s match at Wimbledon Friday, and finally the new trend of sober curious wine drinkers as reported in the New York Times recently. This last bit is controversial, and I get real honest about my own drinking.

I’ve included links to all of these tips and the articles that I mention in the show notes at There’s also a link to a few videos I created that show you how to open sparkling wine the normal way, as well as how to sabre the top off. Drama ensues.

If you’re listening to this episode live when it’s published on Wednesday, July 24th, please join me for my Facebook video show at 7 pm eastern this evening at

We’ll chat about a new slate of topics including how to pair wine with tomatoes, from heirloom specialties to friends and green. We’ll also look at how the current heatwave is affecting vines, and ultimately the wines we’ll be drinking from North America and Europe. Finally, we’ll discuss the new study that says those in relationships are less likely to abuse alcohol, even if they have a genetic predisposition for it. Yay.

Please say hi in the comments if you join me … I’d love to know you’re there and that you heard about the show through this podcast.

I’ll also announce the winner of a signed copy of my book Red, White and Drunk All Over … yes, we always have prizes! We’re live every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern, so after July 24th, it’ll be August 7th and so on. If you’re not able to join me live, you can catch the recorded video replays at

I ask the viewers of my Facebook video show to post questions and comments on Facebook, and I ask you to do the same, whether it’s in the show notes or just email me directly at [email protected].

Plus, if you’d like to get a free copy of my Ultimate Food & Wine Pairing Guide (and I know you would) as it’s a quick template covering the major food matches for red, white, rose and dessert wines. It’s visually very appealing and I know you’ll get tons of use from it. All you have to do is post a review on Apple Podcasts, formerly iTunes, or on social media. Then just email me at [email protected] and just tell me where you posted your review and I’ll send it to you.

On with the show. Enjoy!


How to Open a Bottle of Bubbly

Notes based on the Metro News article in the UK:

  • two champagne corks landed in the middle the court during a Wimbledon match and forced a point to be replayed this past Friday.
  • Two sets into the match, with Vesely serving, corks flew out of the crowd and landed on the grass.
  • Umpire called out ‘let, let, let’, bringing play to a halt as ball boys scurried across the court to collect the rogue corks.
  • The umpire announced: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, for both players, enjoy your champagne, but please don’t open it on the court please.’
  • ‘It’s all corking off on court 18.
  • BBC spectator narrowly avoiding injury from an exploding cork.
  • the cork blast out of the bottle held in the man’s hand and ricochet off his sunglasses.
  • ‘It’s in the terms and conditions of entry to remove the cork before entering the court.
  • Almost 22,000 bottles of champagne are bought at Wimbledon on an average day
  • Corks clocked at 80 miles per hour
  • Pressure inside equal to city bus tires 90 pounds per square inch
  • Higher if the bottle is warm


Pairing Wine and Seafood

Just ten years ago, drinking red wine with fish was as taboo as putting salt and pepper on your food in a five-star restaurant. The prescribed wine was white and French. But today, even fine dining is less formal and more focused simply on a great taste experience. Home cooking has become more experimental, with new flavour combinations, influenced by our sampling of other cultures’ cuisines when we travel.

Wine, too, has changed with new winemaking methods, grapes and blends. The result is that many white wines are no longer the ideal piscatorial pairing because they’re so hefty in their alcohol and flavour that they overpower many seafood dishes. But what we’ve lost in tradition, we’ve made up for in novelty and diversity. With this in mind, here are some tips on matching wine and seafood today:

  • Light white wine goes swimmingly with delicate, flaky whitefish such as cod, pollock, sole, plaice or trout. Loire Valley muscadets and Mosel and Alsace rieslings offer a touch of sweetness and crisp acidity that will complement, but not overwhelm, the subtle taste of these fish. Acidity in wine acts much like the acidity in a lemon you might squeeze on a fish dish—it enhances the flavours and cleanses the palate of any oiliness, preparing your palate to appreciate the next bite all the more. This is why these wines are also good for fish prepared in cream sauces.
  • Often wine choices aren’t based so much on the particular fish, as the sauce. In fact, most cultures drink red wine with fish because of the preparation. For example, grilled halibut with a fruit salsa that’s both sweet and peppery will make an acidic wine taste too tart. But a white wine with a little sweetness will pair nicely. Blackened, grilled and seared fish need red wine, especially when they are prepared using spicy and strong seasonings from the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Asia. A spicy zinfandel goes exceptionally well with these strong flavours.
  • Salmon used to be poached in a white wine bouillon and served with a dill cream sauce. But today it’s more often mesquite grilled or prepared with teriyaki flavoring. Salmon is already a strongly-flavored fish and when you prepare it with bold flavors, the dish demands red wine. Red wine high in tannin is often a poor match because when it interacts with the omega-3 fatty acids in fish, the wine tastes metallic. Therefore, red wines with just a touch of tannin are excellent choices. Pinot noir is often the most popular among these wines.
  • For meatier fish such as sea bass, turbot or halibut, try light reds such as gamay, the grape for beaujolais nouveau, pinot noir or richer whites such as chardonnay, viognier or semillon.
  • The classic match for oysters is a crisp unoaked chablis, a minerally, acidic chardonnay from northern Burgundy, or champagne which offers palate-cleansing acidity and effervescence. But don’t stop there—oysters also pair well with Loire Valley muscadet, Portugese vinho verde and cool climate New World sauvignon blancs such as those from New Zealand. These wines are often called “green” because of their tartness – both from high acidity and from the herbal flavours and aromas. Yet they’re low in alcohol so they match the seafood’s light texture. This is why many white wines from hot regions in the New World, such as California, Australia and Chile, are too heavy for seafood—their high alcohol also accentuates the seafood’s saltiness. Look for whites that are less than 12% in alcohol by volume. Other shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, clams and mussels also go well with wines that complement oysters.


The Trend of Sober Curious

Notes based on the New York Times article:

  • Redefining the meaning of sober as no alcohol
  • “mindful drinking” and “sober curious” and the New Abstainers
  • reminds me of Gwenyth Paltrow’s conscious uncoupling
  • like detoxing or going vegan
  • It’s also more public and shared inside the old model of AA and it’s privacy
  • Booze free nights at clubs and retreats
  • 3 reasons to decline wine at dinner parties and restaurants: you had a problem, you were pregnant or your religious convictions forbade it
  • British style journalist Ruby Warrington, coined the term and opened Club Soda NYC, with events for people whom she called “kind-of-just-a-little-bit-addicted-to-booze”
  • Panel topics like “Sex, Lies, and Alcohol” to highlight different types of problem drinking
  • She also wrote a book called Sober Curious and launched a podcast
  • Mia Mancuso, an accountability coach for women who consider themselves “gray area drinkers”
  • Rosamund Dean, called “Mindful Drinking” in a 2017 book: a half-measure approach to sobriety where you drink less, perhaps think about it more.
  • Dry January
  • “I do drink, but I also mostly don’t drink-
  • traditional 12-step approach, alternatives like Smart Recovery, SheRecovers and Tempest, available to people who, he said, “sit in meetings hearing words like ‘powerless’ and ‘defects’ and cannot identify with that.”
  • “When I got sober in 2007, there were two options: alcoholic or not,” Mr. Marshall said. “There wasn’t Instagram or Facebook, and meetings were the only space for people to frankly discuss unhealthy drinking.

Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed the tips on seafood pairing, opening Champagne and the trend of sober curious. If you did, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in learning more about these topics. My podcast is easy to find: just search for it on Google — Unreserved Wine Talk, or my name.

You can tag me on Twitter or Facebook @nataliemaclean, on Instagram I’m @nataliemacleanwine.

As I mentioned in the intro, if you’re listening to this podcast the day it’s published, please join me at 7 pm eastern this evening at

If you can’t make it, the next one will be August 7th and then every second Wednesday after that so mark your calendar. I’ll include this link as well as a link to the replays of past shows in the show notes at

You can also get a free copy of my Ultimate Wine & Food Pairing Guide if you post a review of this show and email me at [email protected].

Next week on the podcast, we’ll be chatting with Chris Scott in the U.K. who has some amazing tips on tasting wine, including how to tell if a wine has firm or smooth tannins, and just how acidic a wine is. He’s very entertaining and bursting with energy.

Finally, if you want to take your wine and food pairing to the next level, join me in a free online video class at

I can’t wait to share more personal wine stories with you.

Thank-you for taking the time to listen to this one. I hope something great is in your glass this week!



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