Wine Temperatures and Tasting Tricks with Wines to Find Sandy Dawkins and Michelle Lester



Are you drinking your wine at the wrong temperature? Which wine gadgets will help you explore new wines without overindulging? Why should you breathe out through your nose after sipping wine?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m interviewing by Sandy Dawkins and Michelle Lester, hosts of the Wines To Find podcast.

You can find the wines we discussed here.


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  • Which dishes do Sandy and Michelle love to cook and which wines make great pairings?
  • What are the sisters’ all-time favourite wine and food pairings?
  • Where are Sandy and Michelle’s favourite places to enjoy a glass of wine?
  • What makes the tasting experience of Kinero Cellars Alice Grenache Blanc particularly enjoyable?
  • What’s the flavour profile of Sperling Vineyards Pinto Gris?
  • Which foods can you pair with Kinero Cellars Alice Grenache Blanc?
  • Which wine gadgets are Sandy and Michelle’s favourite?
  • What controversial wine opinions do the sisters hold?
  • What were the memorable smells from Sandy and Michelle’s childhood?
  • Which favourite childhood food would Sandy and Michelle now pair with wine?
  • What are Sandy and Michelle’s favourite wine books?
  • How can you choose the right wine to gift?
  • In a dream world, who would Sandy and Michelle want to share a bottle of wine with?
  • Which red wine warning would Sandy and Michelle want to put on a downtown billboard?
  • What are Sandy and Michelle’s top tips for improving your wine enjoyment?

Key Takeaways

  • I loved their tips on drinking wine at the right temperature and breathing out through your nose after you sip it for maximum pleasure.
  • They also had some great suggestions for gadgets will help you explore new wines without overindulging.
  • And I couldn’t agree more that sparkling wine is the perfect wine for gifting as well as pairing with fries.


Start The Conversation: Click Below to Share These Wine Tips

About Sandy Dawkins and Michelle Lester

The Wines To Find Podcast was created after the two hosts, sisters Sandy and Michelle, travelled together to France and Italy in 2019. Both sisters are wine enthusiasts that have tracked their wine purchases, palates and pairings for years. As a way to continue the thrill of their European trip and to document their wine journey, they created the Wines To Find Podcast with the goal of spending time together, further growing their palates, and sharing wine stories from guests. Wines To Find features two new wines tasted for the first time by the sisters & guests, who span the spectrum of the wine industry from winemakers, owners, growers, sommeliers, fellow enthusiasts and more.

Sandy Dawkins is a consultant in the public safety communications industry, licensed realtor and former teacher. Wife and mother of 3, avid reader and podcast listener, boating enthusiast and traveler. Sandy has a proclivity for cooking with a focus on fresh, natural, and healthfully sourced ingredients. Wine enthusiast with focus on food pairings and cooking with wine in mind

Michelle Lester is the director of operations for a back office services/asset management company. Wife and mother of two, avid reader, podcast listener, college sports and travel enthusiast, expert Yelp and travel review consumer. Michelle has an inclination to cook with focus on ethnic foods and dishes that hearken back to travel destinations. Wine enthusiast with focus on region specificity and terroir.

Together, Sandy and Michelle take the WTF out of picking a great wine.




Wine Witch on Fire Cover Options


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Sandy Dawkins 0:00
As you’re tasting the wine, breathe in and out with your nose. When you sip it and then breathe back out your nose and it will push the aroma through your nasal cavity and you’ll be able to get a whole different complexity of the aroma.

Natalie MacLean 0:15
And you’ve heated the wine up once you swallow it and breathe back out through your nose. So you’re gonna get a stronger sense of the wine because it’s warmer. And also, we have different olfactory bulbs that are at the back of our nasal cavity than we do as we’re drinking it. That’s a great tip.

Natalie MacLean 0:37
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine, the love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations. Oh, 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 199. Are you drinking your wine at the wrong temperature? Which wine gadgets will help you explore new wines without overindulging? And why should you breathe out through your nose after sipping wine? You’ll hear those tips and stories in Part Two of my chat with sisters Sandy Dawkins and Michelle Lester who co host the podcast Wines To Find. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week. But I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after you finish this one. Now on a personal note before we dive into the show with the continuing story of publishing my new wine memoir Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation and Drinking Too Much. So last week, I shared two concepts with you for the new book cover. And now I’ll let you know which one we went with and why. Hands down, it’s the glass down version for me. But also for 96% of my beta readers. I conducted an informal survey. And by the way, if you missed last week, or you didn’t get a chance to look at the covers, there’ll be in the show notes at So here are our collected thoughts on the two concepts. This memoir is markedly different in tone content and approach from my first two books. It’s far more personal and in parts more serious. So the glass down cover communicates this and that it’s not the third book in a series of three. Otherwise, we risk past readers being unprepared for the material. That said my name is at the top of this cover, which provides some continuity for those who are looking for my next book.

Natalie MacLean 3:07
The glass up cover concept to us felt busy, crowded, cartoonish, not serious enough, wishy washy, dated and as though it’s yelling in all caps, even though no one element of word stands out. The illustration competes with the text. Whereas the glass down version has more whitespace it’s cleaner, more modern and sophisticated. The double I using the wine stem is, I thought, really creative, as is the flaming dot over the eye and the word fire. By the way, we adjusted that font so that the word is more clearly Fire and not Five as in I’ll be burning on the 5pm News. Wine Witch on Fire at five. Join us then. Anyway. Those of you who’ve read it will know what I’m referring to. Readers described this concept with words like fierce, edgy, audacious, elegant, creative, surprising, polished, gritty, inventive and realistic for a real life story. A few compared it to the cover and movie poster for the Devil Wears Prada, which I thought was really creative that they saw the similarities. This concept surprises and delights Broca, that’s the part of the brain that decides whether the executive brain should pay attention or frontal cortex. More importantly, reader said that this design would make them stop and pick up the book. It evokes feelings of mystery and intrigue. What? Wait! what’s going on here? Symbolically, the glass down captures my life turned upside down. And then according to my readers how this book will turn the wine industry upside down with its message. Yay. The fire still burns within and yet it’s finally contained as though I’ve had enough of the harassment and the drinking and so on. Now, on a purely scientific basis the fire under the glass would burn out without oxygen. But hey, we’re talking literary symbols here. One of the many reasons I became a writer and not an nuclear physicist, the other reasons being, of course, my grades and aptitude. Anyway, thank you for all your comments. This book is starting to feel more real than ever with this cover. I posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the shownotes at 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.

Natalie MacLean 5:53
So both of you like to cook. Sandy, what’s your favourite dish that you make and maybe a wine to pair with it?

Sandy Dawkins 5:59
My favourite dish and I guess it’s because of my children. They love beuchenay. So I really do that out with a couple of different kinds of meats and start off.

Natalie 6:11
What is a beauchenay, sorry.

Sandy Dawkins 6:13
Am I saying it wrong? Bolognese spaghetti sauce. So I made that this one of their favourites but you know I spice it up. It’s not just hamburger meat and some tomato sauce. She’s made it from scratch completely. Yeah. Yeah. And then one of my favourite wines is a Pinot Noir. However, that would not stand up. So I love to do a Barolo with it, just so that it’s got that heft. It’s still light and weight but it’s got those tannins and it just, I like it.

Natalie 6:47
Sounds great. That big Northern Italian wine Barolo would be great with sometimes you get meaty flavours in there. So yeah, I can imagine. And Michelle, do you have a favourite dish? You cook a very different style, don’t you?

Michelle Lester 7:00
Well we like to play around with what we’ve visited or areas that we want to go to and cook, bring back a bit of our trips, you know, and our experiences. So I’ve done one of my favourites that we did was jerk chicken with a Gewurztraminer, because the spice of the jerk chicken and then balanced with the sweet of the grape itself was just a nice balance.

Natalie MacLean 7:20
Oh, that’s great. That sounds really good. And you have each of you favourite sort of all time food and wine pairings? It doesn’t have to be one that you actually cooked and made, but just a pairing that was just to die for.

Sandy Dawkins 7:32
Okay, can I say mine? You can. I was shocked with this pairing. I guess it’s kind of one of those things that when you start now that I know the background it’s like it makes sense why it works. French fries and sparkling wine are one of my very favourites. With the greasiness of the French fry and then the sparkling it just kind of cleanses the palate and lifts it all up. I just love it.

Natalie 7:57
Yeah, that makes total sense. Potato Chips also are to die for with the fat is really. It is great with the sparkling the bubbles. Yeah. Great, great pairing. And Michelle.

Michelle Lester 8:08
I like a classic the Cab and Steak. You know, yeah, we like both of them. And there’s there’s just so many good Cabs out there. You know, it’s just a good pairing. You can’t go wrong.

Natalie MacLean 8:18
Yeah, we may have already covered it but do you have any weird wine and food pairings that you would challenge listeners to try?

Michelle Lester 8:24
So we did in our YouTube Day we did an experiment which is when Sandy discovered the whole sparkling wine, but we did sparkling wines with weird things. So we took and we did French fries and think there were chilli cheese fries. Yeah chilli cheese fries from I think Sonic or some. Yeah, Doritos, and something sweet but we did it with the different types of sparkling wine.

Sandy Dawkins 8:44
We had Cava and Prosecco and all those had a little bit different flavour profile.

Michelle Lester 8:50
And the bubbles profile is different for those. So what was interesting was putting the wine with the food and then just seeing how a Prosecco went better with this versus that and how a certain food can actually be changed by the wine itself, your experience of it. So that was really eye opening.

Natalie MacLean 9:07
What did the prosecco go with versus the others? The Cava…

Michelle Lester 9:11
We would have to go back and watch the video. But I remember distinctly because I think it was like fruity Skittles or something. And one of the wines that we had to had a fruity element to it and that pair like it, it actually enhanced, you know. It was one of those eye opening things where you go, oh, well. I can see where this pulls that in.

Sandy Dawkins 9:28
What the big takeaway is what Michelle just said is then you use that knowledge and then say, okay, if this says fruity on the back of the label, then I know that if I’m going to have a fruity dish, this is going to help enhance it. Right?

Natalie MacLean 9:42
Sure. Absolutely. And Proseccos I think do tend to be a bit fruity or tasting slightly sweeter than say a Cava, which is more earthy and dry. But again, they can all be made in such different styles. So do you each have a place that you really love? Your favourite place to enjoy a glass of wine?

Sandy Dawkins 10:00
I’d have to say mine is out on my back deck, right before dinner. Make us sit out and have either a glass of what we’re having that night or even an aperitif style wine just sitting out looking at over the lake is probably one of my favourite places. Maybe it’s because I can do it most often. Yeah.

Michelle Lester 10:17
And I have a similar setup in my back porch. So except I don’t look at the lake. I look at the pool. So a lot of times it’s generally after dinner. So we’ll go and take our wine and sit out there and just relax and talk about our day.

Natalie 10:31
Very relaxing. We should taste speaking of all these wines. So tell us about the wine that you have with you here.

Michelle Lester 10:38
So we did an episode called the Duelling Winemakers and a friend of ours, Jeff Cohen, who’s been on the show multiple times introduced us to this winemaker. This is Alice, it’s Anthony Yount is his name. Its Yount. Y O U N T . He actually works for dinner. So this is his side job, but it’s good. You learn that the guys doing their side jobs and that are actually in the business produce some of the best wine and in small batch and this was named after, he’s the namesake of his grandmother. And then he named this wine after his grandmother. His first vintage was in 2008. It’s only $30 a bottle. It’s a Grenache Blanc.

Natalie MacLean 11:20
And, sorry, what was the name of the wine? I got the name of the wine maker. Alice. Okay, and so we’ll put that in the show notes too, if people are curious about it afterwards, but okay, so Alice. Grenache Blanc. And where is he from or the wine grown?

Michelle Lester 11:34
Paso Robles,

Natalie 11:35
Paso Robles. Gotcha. Okay, great.

Michelle Lester 11:37
Yeah. So what we like about it is we enjoy we have found a wine that has a little bit more mouthfeel. We like a wine that can compete with a red. You know, a lot of people they think they don’t like white wine. And really, I just think they haven’t had a white wine that’s made to their tastes. So there was it’s not oaked at all. It is aged in amphora, terra cotta vessels, and then concrete, so it’s clean. But what we find is that it hits that mouthfeel that we particularly enjoy. So we actually in that episode, there’s a red from each winemaker and a white. And we taste the whites after the reds. Why do you do that? Go ahead. Well, because the winemakers told us to.

Natalie MacLean 12:24
Do they have a reason?

Michelle Lester 12:26
Because this wine can stand up. It is big and bold. And you don’t have to have. All whites aren’t the same. And this is a white that if you serve it at the right temperature, and allow it to show itself best, is going to have that weight and that mouthfeel and that heft in the complexity that I red that you anticipate in a red. And so they did that on purpose, they gave us a read a big heavy, juicy, alcohol laden, red wine and then they said but then try this white.

Natalie MacLean 12:54
And that’s interesting because when I used to do bigger wine tastings, I would start with the reds and then go to the whites because I found most of the whites had some degree of acidity that was higher than the reds and if I started the other way around my mouth got tired more quickly with all the acidity and then the Reds started tasting flabby. And I found it was easier to go with the reds and then go to even lighter whites as long as they had some good bracing acidity. It almost perked my mouth back up. It awakened. Yeah, yeah, exactly. So this Grenache Blanc of course the original home is the Rhone Valley where Grenache, both red and white, thrive and produce full bodied reds and whites. Grenache Blanc being white. But so go ahead and tastes like you’ve got it in your glass and let us know what you think of it. I’m going to also open my wine while you’re tasting. I’ve got the Sperling Vineyards from British Columbia a Pinot Gris. So a fresh white for summer. And I will give this a sniff, too.

Natalie 13:59
It’s nice. So what are you thinking about yours?

Sandy Dawkins 14:03
I have lots of white flowers. That’s one of the favourite aromas and profiles that I get from this. I love having that flower note in my wines and definitely pear. And he, Anthony, made this wine specifically for his father because his father said he does not like white wine. So he was on a mission to create a white wine that his father would enjoy. And that’s kind of and my husband does not typically like white wine. He loves this white wine. And I think it has to do with that pear flavour. Both Anthony’s father enjoys that flavour profile and my husband does too. So just a little side note.

Natalie 14:53
Nice. Well that’s the universal story of trying to please a parent no matter what you’re doing, making wine, having a career, whatever. I love that backstory. And you’ve put pears in my mind. I’m getting pairs from this Sperling Pinot Gris. This is a lovely wine from British Columbia. It’s got some bright acidity, but some like sort of white peach, maybe some pear in it, but it’s lovely. So what would you pair with that Grenache Blanc that you have there.

Michelle Lester 15:21
You know, I was sitting here thinking a nice creamy cheese is what I would really need to go with this. As I’m sitting here going, what would I want a nice creamy cheese, maybe a brie, maybe with some goodies chopped in there, maybe some honey and nut.

Sandy Dawkins 15:36
I was even thinking pistachios, because that’s part of the flavour profile that’s in here. Would complement it very nicely. I would even do a chicken with some lime. So that that way it really even brightens it all up. I think it would go nicely with that.

Natalie MacLean 15:53
Oh, that sounds great. That sounds great. And does this winemaker sell the wine directly from his website? Like, can people have a hope of getting this wine?

Michelle Lester 16:02
Well there you go. We looked it up to make sure and then it’s sold out. So because he’s a small producer and he is well known and he’s been producing, it’s very popular. You gotta get on the list. You gotta get it. But it’s worthwhile getting on the list if you can get on the list or if you can find it.

Sandy Dawkins 16:16
Yeah, The allocation list.

Michelle Lester 16:21
It’s only $30. So it’s a great value.

Natalie MacLean 16:26
Terrific. Wow. All right. And that’s the one wine you have here today, right? We’ve covered it. Yes. Good. So now you or John, the audio guy, Michelle’s husband, was using the Coravin, which is your favourite wine gadget? Do you have it there?

Michelle Lester 16:43
I do. Yeah. Okay, we Coravined the wine today. You know, it is early in the morning. And we didn’t want to open a full bottle early in the morning. And we’re not guaranteed that we’re going to have this particular wine this evening. So Coravin comes in very handy when you’re podcasting. So in fact, it’s super simple. You just place it into there’s a needle and it goes into the cork. You do you have to use it with a true cork. Not a synthetic cork. We’ll make a very small hole into the cork and it has a gas that you insert here, that then gas, it’s like a cartridge that has gas, and it actually puts gas into the bottle instead of. So that when the oxygen comes out, when the wine comes out, it doesn’t allow the wine that’s left in the bottle to be oxidized because the gas replaces the space. So it’s a very good wine preserver. And actually, what it allows us to do personally is we do these two wines per episode that we Coravin and then for tomorrow, in fact, we’re having leftover wine night. We invite people that we know personally to taste and join in the fun of tasting the wines that we’ve had on the podcast.

Natalie MacLean 17:50
Oh, that’s wonderful. Yeah, it’s a good way to also try more in different wines at the same time, because instead of being committed to finishing that bottle, you know, for dinner that night, you might have a glass of this and a glass of that if they’ve all been Corvined. If that’s a verb. That’s cool. That’s a great gadget. Is there something that either of you believe about wine, that some people would strongly disagree with you?

Sandy Dawkins 18:18
Yes. I thought you were gonna ask me about my gadgets. Sandy has her gadget. What is the other gadget? Okay, this may sound silly but originally when I first started opening up bottles of wine, I’d use the butterfly wine opener. It never worked for me. It drove me crazy. So I always heard use the bartenders wine opener, which is basically just a corkscrew, but yeah, not this kind. Because it’s only one lever. You have to have the double lever corkscrew so that you can get more leverage in step up. So I was like. There’s a two notches on it right. Two notches. So I like a double lever corkscrew.

Natalie MacLean 19:03
Right, because you dig it in, and people if you know they can see this on the video if they they want the visuals if they’re just listening right now, but it kind of hooked on the lip of the bottle for the lowest down notch. Yeah, and then you right, you keep screwing it in and then you get to the tighter one which will take it off. I don’t know. That’s probably sounds very confusing but anyway. I get it, two notches on your corkscrew. That’s very good. All right. Then back to is there something that you believe about wine that people would disagree with?

Sandy Dawkins 19:32
Yes, I think the general public really thinks that wine is hoity toity. The people who enjoy it are hoity toity. But really once we started learning and knowing more of these vintners, and farmers, they really are just down to earth the great people who are welcoming you in, who wants you to try and love their wine. Just simple as that.

Natalie MacLean 20:01
And I find they’re such often, I mean, these are generalizations, but still, people who make wine or chefs make food restaurants, they have this urge to nurture to take care of you to see you happy by consuming whatever it is they just made for you. So I really love that aspect of it. They just want to sort of take you in like, adoptive parents and here have another glass or

Sandy Dawkins 20:23
you need more this try this. Yeah, exactly.

Michelle Lester 20:27
Very welcoming. And the people, the industry is called hospitality for a reason. And generally speaking, there’s a lot of very hospitable people in the wine world.

Natalie MacLean 20:37
And that is why we’re not writing about plumbing parts or something else. So not that there’s anything against plumbing parts. But anyway. Do you remember what your childhood smelled like? Any particular smells?

Sandy Dawkins 20:49
As soon as I thought of that, it was like chlorine. Ah, the pool. Chlorine for the pool as soon as I saw was like, chlorine. Florida girls.

Natalie MacLean 20:59
Yeah, there you go. And do you have a favourite childhood food that each of you remember? Or maybe it was the same one. Maybe there was a special dish that you’d now pair with wine?

Sandy Dawkins 21:12
Pizza is mine. It’s kind of my comfort even whenever I’m sick, I want pizza. I don’t know if it has to do with the tomato base. But that’s kind of a very much a comfort food for me. And I enjoy pairing it with like a Shiraz or good Zinfandel. I have even paired it with a Lambrusco, like a sparkling Lambrusco. That’s been fun.

Natalie MacLean 21:35
Yeah, that sparkling red from Italy. They’re very interesting wines. Any other favourite childhood foods?

Michelle Lester 21:42
I would agree with pizza. Yeah.

Natalie MacLean 21:45
I would imagine I shared a lot of these experiences together. Do you have a favourite wine book?

Sandy Dawkins 21:51
Oh, okay. This is The Wine Lovers Cookbook. And the reason why I chose it is because it actually helps you decide how to pair the wine. It has to do with the weight of the dish, and then gives you some suggestions, gives you some core elements to look at, and then to bounce off. And for example, if you have a Merlot sauce, then you might consider looking for a right bank Bordeaux to go with that sauce since it’s predominantly Merlot.

Natalie MacLean 22:28
Right, in the wine blend. Yeah.

Sandy Dawkins 22:31
There’s an inside joke that we’re over here grinning about.

Natalie 22:34
Is it anything you can share publicly?

Michelle Lester 22:37
Oh yeah, its our trick for remembering right bank versus left bank Bordeaux. So right bank is Merlot predominant, generally speaking. So that’s because on the right bank in Bordeaux, of the river that is there, the Merlot grape is grown on the right side of that river. So we throw back to the Sideways movie. Oh, yes, in which Paul Giamatti is very mad at Merlot and doesn’t want Merlot. When he says, no, no, no, Merlot. So Merlot makes Paul Giamatti mad and mad is a red colour. So the R for the right bank and the red is our little way of remembering that Merlot is the right bank.

Natalie MacLean 23:18
Wow, that’s quite a string of associations, but I guess it works.

Michelle Lester 23:21
Its way the brain works.

Natalie MacLean 23:25
Just go for it. And Michelle, do you have a favourite wine book?

Michelle Lester 23:29
You know, I started out with the Windows of the World. Yes, it was Kevin Zraly and he has many iterations of it. But I do enjoy the way it’s broken down. I enjoy the pieces and parts of information. And along the side is like where the gold is. Because you’re reading you’re reading and then there’s all these little tips on the side that are just kind of high notes. And I find his approach to wine is enjoyable and interesting. And he comes from the hospitality side. So it’s based on a lot of people’s opinions and thoughts on wine that he’s experienced through the years.

Natalie MacLean 23:59
Yeah, it’s a great book, like it reads like a wine course, like a beginner’s wine course. But it’s practical, too. It goes beyond that. But of course, it was also based he used to be either the wine buyer or the head sommelier at the World Trade Towers, because windows on the world was a restaurant. I dined there sadly. But yeah, it’s an excellent book. And Sandy that book, The Wine Lovers Cookbook, who’s the author on that one?

Sandy Dawkins 24:22
Sid Goldstein.

Natalie 24:24
Great. Okay.

Sandy Dawkins 24:25
And he’s the sommelier.

Natalie MacLean 24:27
Okay, great. We’ll put links to both of those books in the show notes.

Sandy Dawkins 24:30
You know, I this book is so old. I found it at a secondhand gifts bookstore. So hopefully, it’s I don’t know if it’s still out there.

Michelle Lester 24:39
There’s probably multiple prints of it. Yeah. Kevin Zraly, he’s been through several different editions and he’s updated for trends and stuff too.

Natalie MacLean 24:46
Exactly. And I find like even on say Amazon, there’ll be used books for sale too, so you can find them online if you don’t have a secondhand bookshop close by. Do either of you have either a favourite wine you’ve received as a gift or advice on what type of wine to give as a gift, especially if you don’t know the taste of the recipient?

Michelle Lester 25:08
Michelle. So my go to on that would be sparkling, or a bubbly some kind of sparkling wine. And the reason for that is even if sparkling wine isn’t, especially if it’s somebody that you don’t know their taste, it’s a versatile and it’s going to get used, you know. If it’s thrown into a mimosa, if it gets used as a cocktail ingredient. Or if it gets re-gifted or served at a party. It’s just going to be used and so you’re not feeling like you’re giving a gift that’s just not going to be appreciated.

Natalie MacLean 25:36
That’s true. The re-gift value is very important that people can pass it on slyly if they’re not keen on it. But yeah, no sparkling wine is a great choice. Do you have one, Sandy?

Sandy Dawkins 25:46
I just have. Really wasn’t a gift, but it ended up feeling like a gift. My husband went to go get wine for dinner. And he asked what we were having. And I forget what even it was, because what would you like I said, just pick something. So he goes to the liquor store and he brings back this Pinot Noir. So he knows I like that varietal he goes and I remember you saying Sonoma is a little bit cooler, which is better for the wine grape than Napa Valley. So I deliberately went in looking for a Sonoma and then this one said, estate and I knew that meant that it was probably all those grapes were located. He was listening to me.

Natalie MacLean 26:24
He learned. That;s great.

Sandy Dawkins 26:28
So that made me feel good, just because he was listening. And then he went and use the knowledge to pick out a great wine.

Natalie MacLean 26:35
It’s good to be heard, especially when your wine choices depend on it. That’s great. Love that. So Michelle, if you could share a bottle of wine with any person outside the wine world living or dead? Who would that be? And what would you open?

Michelle Lester 26:49
Well mine would be Jesus.

Natalie 26:51
Let go right to the top.

Michelle Lester 26:54
I wouldn’t have to open it because he would just make water into it. That’s a bit cheap. If he’s the best winemaker ever, I’m not gonna step on that.

Natalie MacLean 27:07
What would you ask him?

Michelle Lester 27:08
Oh, gosh, you know, I don’t know. I would sit back and listen. I don’t know that I would ask.

Natalie 27:14
I think I would ask him am I getting in to heaven? And then I bring wine. No, you can’t bribe Jesus. And, Sandy?

Sandy Dawkins 27:26
I would want to interview Genghis Khan.

Natalie 27:29
Now that’s the opposite. Yeah.

Sandy Dawkins 27:34
I had read a book on him a few years ago, and just how he was able to overtake the, you know, make such a huge civilization. From that Mongrel time and he ended up, even though the Silk Road had been in play for several 100 years by the time he became in power, he really put it all up under one political avenue, you know, under his reign, and then it developed from there. And what it ended up doing is, as you know, wine went through there, silk went through there, and it ended up spurring all of this the commerce and the culture. So he kinda I think helped really perpetuate that aspect, which now I want to say, okay, did you know? Is that your intent of doing that? And then what do you think of the current Silk Road that is taking place now? And do you think it will have that same blossoming effect?

Natalie 28:29
Wow. And what wine would you pour for him? Something strong, but bitter? I don’t know an Amarone?

Sandy Dawkins 28:38
Soften him up. Yeah. Something high alcohol. I don’t know which one I would pour.

Natalie MacLean 28:47
I like your choices. The interesting peopl, and that’s what it’s all about when you’re sharing a bottle. So good choices, very different.

Natalie 28:55
If you could put up a billboard in downtown Charleston. Is that where you are?

Sandy Dawkins 29:00
Well, we’re outside of Columbia and Lexington. It would be blinking and saying restaurant owners please serve your red wines chilled. Because I can tell you we live in South Carolina. It’s very hot here. And I will get an 80 degree red wine that has been sitting on the counter for the last how ever long.

Sandy Dawkins 29:25
It’s just really off putting so that would be my billboard.

Natalie MacLean 29:29
Absolutely. And kitchens are so hot. I mean, they deliberately keep them hot so that when a dish is ready, you know, it’s not going to chill down as it’s waiting for the server to come and take it to the table. So it’s just a really hot environment. So if you’ve got wine anywhere in that kitchen, it’s going to heat up. Yeah.

Michelle Lester 29:47
I agree with her billboard 100%..

Sandy Dawkins 29:49
And then you may add and the whites, too.

Michelle Lester 29:53
Well at the perfect temperature, really. Yeah.

Natalie 30:01
Right, whites are often served too cold. Yeah, coming out of the fridge or whatever. Is there one tip you’d give listeners to take away and try to improve their wine enjoyment or savvy?

Michelle Lester 30:11
So we actually we did for our 100th episode 100 tips. And so we would encourage everyone to go listen to the 100th episode.

Natalie 30:21

And very sly.

Michelle Lester 30:26
did have some folks give us voice memos, and share their tips, and one that really did stick. And we’ve heard it consistently from a lot of different people in different ways. But it’s as you’re tasting the wine, breathe in and out with your nose. Because there’s so much experience. Do it both way ways when you first drink, and then you sip it, and then breathe back out your nose, and it will push the aroma through your nasal cavity, and you’ll be able to get a whole different or hopefully a different complexity of the aroma.

Natalie MacLean 31:01
Absolutely, and you’ve heated the wine up. Now once you swallow it, and breathe back out through your nose. So you’re gonna get a stronger sense of the wine because it’s hotter or warmer. And also, we have different olfactory bulbs that are at the back of our nasal cavity than we do like, as it’s, you know, as we’re drinking it. So yeah, that’s a great ti.  Any others? Any other favourites?

Sandy Dawkins 31:22
When you’re eating food, sip the wine, then try the food, then sip the wine again. And hopefully you’ll notice a difference. So alternate.

Michelle Lester 31:31
And do food, then wine, and then wine, then food, because that can also if the food has been the last thing in the mouth, and then you taste it impacts the blend. Does that make sense?

Natalie MacLean 31:42
Yeah, it does. I love doing that on a very simple basis, you know, with my online course students. And we’ll take like a sip of the wine, a small piece of cheese and then back to the wine and it so softens any acidity or it’ll bring out fruitiness. People are amazed. It’s like a magic trick, but it’s just paying attention and doing that order can really again, illuminate those those differences. So fantastic. So as we wrap up our conversation, which has been amazing, thank you. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention before we ask where we can find you online?

Michelle Lester 32:17
I’m sure there is.

Natalie 32:18
Speechless. This is the first time I’ve heard you speechless.

Michelle Lester 32:22
We covered so much.

Natalie MacLean 32:24
We did. We did. It was great.

Michelle Lester 32:26
Yeah. Yeah, I would just encourage everyone, I’d go back to that wine is for everyone.

Sandy Dawkins 32:31
And it’s fun. I mean and don’t take it too seriously. No, no.

Natalie 32:35
Take the WTF out of it. Exactly.

Natalie 32:38
I love that. All right. So you have your podcast. So for anyone listening to this, you can find Wines To Find Podcast on any pod catcher or any channel any platforms. I assume.

Sandy Dawkins 32:52
Platforms like Apple, Spotify, all those.

Natalie 32:55
All the things. All the places things. And your website?

Sandy Dawkins 32:59
We actually do have a website. It’s We are very active on Instagram, which is also Wines To Find. Wines To Find Podcast. Add Podcast. We’re on Facebook. We don’t do a whole lot on Twitter, though. We are there,, not a whole lot.

Michelle Lester 33:15
And you can just Google us and it’ll pull up you know, our website. It’ll pull up episodes, you know.

Sandy Dawkins 33:22
It’s usually Wines To Find or Wines To Find Podcast on social medias and website.

Michelle Lester 33:27
You have to pluralize it is Wines to Find.

Natalie 33:30
Wine. Yes, there’s more than one. Ladies, this has been wonderful. Michelle. Sandy, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. I really enjoyed your stories and tips. Very useful. So thank you.

Sandy Dawkins 33:43
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

Natalie 33:45
All right, bye for now until we meet again.

Natalie MacLean 33:53
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoy my chat with Sandy and Michelle. Here are my takeaways. Number one, I love their tips on drinking wine at the right temperature, as well as breathing out through your nose after you sip for maximum pleasure, too. They also had some great suggestions for gadgets that can help you explore new wines without over indulging. And three, I couldn’t agree with them more that sparkling wine is the perfect gift wine as well as pairing for fries. In the shownotes you’ll find my email contact, the full transcript of my conversation with Sandy and Michelle, links to their 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 Food and Wine Pairing. That’s all in the show notes at Email me if you have a sip, tip, question, or want to become a beta reader of my new memoir at Natalie@Natalie You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Valerie Kathawala, a journalist focused on the wines of Germany, Austria, South Tyrell and Switzerland with a particular interest in biodynamics. She co-founded TRINK magazine and lives in New York City. In the meantime, if you missed episode 84 go back and take a listen. I chat about the hottest wine trends with Darren Olekksyn. I’ll play a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Darren Oleksyn 35:25
Natural wine is basically wine in its purest form. They do it as simple as they can. They grow organic grapes or biodynamic grapes. They bring them in. They use natural yeast sits in the air. They don’t add any yeast. They don’t add any kind of additives or chemicals or anything. They make the wine and they put no sulphur or maybe just a small amount of sulphur in the wine at the end before they cork it. And there it is. It’s wine in its purest form. Whereas orange wine is not necessarily natural wine. It’s kind of like all Champagne is sparkling wine, but all sparkling wine is not champagne. Orange wine is white wine, where they ferment it on the skins, so it sits on the skins for quite a while like that’s where it gets its colour. Yeah. And that’s where you get the orange colour from and you get tannin which is something you don’t necessarily see very often, white wine.

Natalie MacLean 36:19
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 and bubbly that’s perfect with a big plate of fries.

Natalie MacLean 36:46

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 Meet me here next week. Cheers.