Why does a lot of writing about wine ignore the alcoholic buzz? How did Audrey Hepburn kick start our guest’s relationship with wine? What effect can pregnancy have on your palate?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with journalist and podcaster, Jaime Lewis.
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- How did visions of Audrey Hepburn kick start Jaime’s relationship with wine?
- When did Jaime start writing about wine?
- Why do wine connoisseurs often avoid talking about the buzz?
- Why is Jaime transitioning away from wine writing?
- What effect did pregnancy have on Jaime’s palate?
- What was the inspiration for Jaime’s podcast, CONSUMED?
- Which New Zealand wine left Jaime shocked and inspired?
- What makes working in a New Zealand tasting room so different from one in the US?
- Why is it so complicated to navigate the wine world as a woman?
- I like Jaime’s reality take on why the buzz of alcohol in wine is often not mentioned in a lot of wine writing. I, too, wish there was more acknowledgement of wine’s full-bodied sensory experience.
- I enjoyed her stories about Italian wine and food culture, with a nod to Audrey Hepburn.
- I’m fascinated with the impact pregnancy has on your palate, along with other physical and mental changes from depression to other diseases. It’s all so connected.
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Wine is such an integral, woven-in part of life in Italy that I couldn’t help but notice it. - Jaime Lewis Click to tweet
Wine was a hook that gave me the confidence to think I could be paid as a writer. - Jaime Lewis Click to tweet
We can’t ignore the fact that wine does inebriate us and there’s a whole aspect to that that wine connoisseurs often don’t want to talk about. - Jaime Lewis Click to tweet
There’s something about wine and women that is a little bit toxic in the way that some wines are marketed to us. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
I’m a big believer in redemption stories and finding your way back. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
About Jaime Lewis
Jaime writes, speaks and podcasts about the good life.
After an arts management career that included employment with Architecture New York Magazine, the San Francisco Symphony and the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Jaime chose to follow her nose (and palate) into the wine industry. Earning a Wine & Spirits Education Trust Advanced certification in 2007, she set off to eat, drink and write her way across the major wine regions of Italy and New Zealand, including stints in Barolo, Alba, Bolgheri, Chianti, Marlborough and Martinborough.
Jaime has participated in nearly every moment of a wine’s life, from planting and bottling to selling. In addition to blogging about her personal year-long journey through the world, Jaime has written product, promotional and web copy for acclaimed wineries including Robert Mondavi, Firestone, Tantara, Herman Story, Laetitia, and Sans Liege. She has blogged for Parker Sanpei Lifestyle Public Relations, Villa San-Juliette Winery, Spinaca Farms and Challenge Dairy; and her editorial work has appeared in publications that include Wine Enthusiast, Fathom Magazine, Life & Thyme, Vegetarian Times, ITALY Magazine, Santa Barbara Independent, The Tasting Panel Magazine, SOMM Journal, The Clever Root, and Edible Santa Barbara, among others.
Jaime is the former managing editor of Edible SLO Magazine; a food columnist for 805 Living and SLO Life Magazines, and the former Central Coast reporter for Wines & Vines Magazine. A fellow at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers (2018) at Meadowood Napa Valley and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Jaime is a graduate of Vassar College, where she earned degrees in art history and music.
When not writing, Jaime podcasts at CONSUMED and teaches journalism at Cal Poly State University.
- Connect with Jaime Lewis
- CONSUMED | Season III: Sandi Sigurdson, community leader + recovering alcoholic
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 111: Ontario Icewine: How to Drink It, Pair It and Love It with Karen King
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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Thirsty for more?
- Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
- You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
- The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.
Jaime Lewis 0:00
To be a writer about cars, a writer about tech, a writer about alternative medicine, whatever it is, you first must be a writer because you cannot communicate about anything unless you have the skills, the creativity. And I think the curiosity to do that, and perhaps a tiny bit of the mental illness that helps to draw connections between disparate things is an important part of the craft of writing. But a big part of why I transitioned out of the drinking, it’s impossible to keep up. Wine, and I’ve heard before is the number one consumer product with the most SKU’s of any product. People are opening up different wineries, they’re starting new labels. Every year, it doubles. Well, I can’t keep up with that. I don’t work in a wine shop. I don’t have close ties to anybody who would be willing to share with me at a wine shop and I’m the mother of two and a very busy person. I can’t possibly crack that many bottles at a time
Natalie MacLean 1:03
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine, do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? Well that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please and let’s get started!
Why does a lot of writing about wine ignore the alcoholic buzz? How did Audrey Hepburn kickstart our guests’ relationship with wine? And what effect can pregnancy have on your palate? You’ll hear those stories and more during our chat with Jaime Lewis, a terrific food and wine writer, journalism professor and host of her own podcast Consumed.
Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show with the continuing story of publishing my new wine memoir. What’s a beta reader, Sharon, asked me, after she volunteered to be one. Beta readers provide a range of feedback on a book I said depending on their level of interest in scale from a cursory read to those who get into noting typos, it’s up to you. ‘But I don’t have a writing or editing background’, Sharon said. No problem, I replied. I just want to know what your thoughts are as you read the book, what parts do you like and don’t like? Are there areas where you’re confused or intrigued? This gives me an idea of what other readers will experience with the book. It’ll also help me revise the manuscript to make it better.
But doesn’t your editor at your publisher do that? She asked. Yes and no I said. A professional editor sees different things from a reader. They’re also important, but no one can replace your reader experience. I’m not a wine expert, Sharon said with one last feeble attempt of resistance. That’s fine, too I said naturally. This isn’t a wine book like my last two books. Even though it takes place in the wine world, it’s far more personal and closer in style to memoirs, like Eat, Pray, Love, Wild and Educated. So rather than going on a trip through a wine region, this is a journey inside to find the courage to reclaim who you are, and let down your guard to love again. So I’m not looking for wine experts. I want someone who has a passion for stories that connect with their own. This is more than a book for me. It’s a message I want to share with as many people who need or want to hear it. I’m on a mission with this book, unlike my previous two, and your comments will strengthen that message Sharon. Sign me up, Sharon said smiling as she realised resistance was futile.
Would you like to join me as a beta reader and help spread the message in this memoir? Email me and let me know. You’ll find a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch, where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. You’ll find that in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/168. And as I mentioned, if you do want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know if you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at Natalie at Nataliemaclean.com. In the show notes you’ll also find the full conversation with Jaime, links to her website and books and podcast, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/168. Okay, on with the show!
Natalie MacLean 5:29
Jaime Lewis has worked with Architecture New York Magazine, the San Francisco Symphony, and the St. Louis Obispo, she’s going to tell me how to pronounce that correctly, Symphony, before diving into the wine industry. She then set off on a year long journey to eat drink and write her way across the major regions of both Italy and New Zealand, during which she participated in nearly every moment of a wines’ life from planting to bottling to selling. Her writing has been published in the Wine Enthusiast, Fathom Magazine, Life &Thyme, Vegetarian Times, ITALY Magazine, Santa Barbara Independent, SOMM Journal and Edible Santa Barbara, among many others. She is the former managing editor of Edible SLO Magazine, the food columnist for 805 Living and SLO Life Magazine and a former Central Coast reporter for Wines and Vines Magazine. She was a fellow at the prestigious symposium for professional wine writers at Meadowood Napa and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone and Jaime is a graduate of Vassar College, one of the Seven Sisters, a very big deal, where she earned degrees in art history and music, and when she’s not writing, Jaime hosts a wonderful podcast called Consumed and teaches journalism at California Polytechnic State University. Welcome, Jaime. We’re so glad you’re here.
Jaime Lewis 6:48
Natalie MacLean 6:50
So Jaime, is that a map behind you of where you live?
Jaime Lewis 6:54
Yes, it’s from 1874. But yes, it’s a map of San Luis Obispo County when the ranches, the famous Spanish and Mexican ranches, were the way that we measured space. I live right about there.
Natalie MacLean 7:08
Okay, awesome. As I mentioned, your bun is in Napa. I’m in Napa. But your bun is in Napa?
Jaime Lewis 7:15
Yes. It’s a rather high bun today.
Natalie MacLean 7:17
That’s right. Maybe it’s stretching into Sonoma. I’m not sure. Some Pacific fog is rolling; anyway. But let me stay focused here. You have got so many great stories. Let’s start with some of your most memorable moments in food and wine. Tell us about your trip to Italy when you were 21.
Jaime Lewis 7:34
Okay, well, first before anything, Natalie, I’ve told you already; this is such an honour for me. When I was living in New Zealand, I went to the public library in Blenheim, because that’s all I could afford. I couldn’t afford to buy books. And they had your two books. And those were so inspiring to me. You’re so funny, and so relatable. And there’s a lot of overlap with us. So it’s really cool to be on..
Natalie MacLean 7:59
Thank you, well I really sense we could get together for a glass or three. Yes, or 10? Yes. Yeah, totally. Thank you
Jaime Lewis 8:07
Yeah, I mean, the beginnings of my wine relationship go back to this trip that I took on my own to Italy to study architecture history actually. I didn’t grow up with much wine in the household. It was more Coors Lite. But when I went to Italy to study, I just went over with a prize that I had won through my college, just to experience these buildings in person. And of course, you know, the moment you touched down in Rome, things begin to change and shift. My whole identity just blew up, opened up different pathways in my brain. But I came with a very fantastical outlook on everything. I thought that when I entered the Italian border that I would become Audrey Hepburn being whisked away by Gregory Peck on a Vespa, I really thought that
Natalie MacLean 8:59
Yeah, that movie, that’s a classic,
Jaime Lewis 9:02
A classic and one that I had seen perhaps too many times. So when I arrived, I thought, you know, I gotta find something really romantic to do. And so I walked into a bicycle tour shop, hoping to go to Chianti on a bicycle, to taste wines, to have lunch and to have a darling, I’d pictured it, flat ride on my bicycle all the way out. Well, it turns out I walked in with Capri pants on and a striped boat neck shirt and big Audrey Hepburn glasses and I’m embarrassed to say even a scarf tied around my neck. And everybody else there was wearing spandex. And they had brought their own bicycles and I swear to God, they were all Australian. And so I just was very out of place. But I persisted and I went on this tour. We got maybe a couple miles outside the city. I was going up a really tough hill, saddling the whole time, sweating and finally realised that I had to vomit. Because it was so tough. So pulled over with one of the guides, was throwing up into a bush on a major autostrada as cars are whizzing by and I just said, You know what? I think I’ve imagined something that’s not possible for me. And he turned me around, took me back to the shop and with my refund money, I went to a café, bought several pastries and probably drank my own weight in espresso and had a wonderful time, much more civilised, much more civilised. But anyway, that like fantasy versus reality, for me has been a long standing difficulty trying to tell the difference between the two. So anyway, but that was the beginnings of my wine interest. It’s just such an integral, woven in part to life in Italy, and I couldn’t help but notice it at 21. I started to drink wine there. Oh, wow.
Natalie MacLean 10:57
And so you discovered the wines of Italy? Surely you got beyond the espresso and were able to taste the various wines.
Jaime Lewis 11:05
Well, it’s a balance between the two. Yes, it’s such a lovely life that yes, I travelled to Montalcino, just to really see the town but ended up falling, of course, in love with Brunello. Montepulciano, Valpolicella, just so many beautiful wines in and around that region. Also got to experience the super Tuscans later in life when my husband and I lived just a couple of miles from Bolgheri.
Natalie MacLean 11:28
Oh, wow , so how long did you live there?
Jaime Lewis 11:31
Well, we were travelling, we had quit our jobs, saved up for six years, quit our jobs. And it was right around the time I really wanted to make a life in wine. And I wasn’t interested in working the floor at a restaurant, I did not want to pour for people and I didn’t want to be a winemaker, it was kind of tricky. But I had this gift for writing;that I knew I had from when I was in third grade. And my teacher gave me a most creative writer award. I knew that I had something there, even though I’d never studied writing. And so that was what I imagined as my life. So for six months, we worked in and out of organic farms, vineyards, wineries, throughout Italy, all over the country. And then for six months in New Zealand, working for me in a particular winery, Alan Scott Wines and my husband worked for the brewery they owned across the street. I wanted to be in Italy for a year, but he wanted New Zealand for a year. So we split it down the middle. And it was an interesting dichotomy of places in one year. But that was how I began. I started to blog about wine and our life over there. And I got my chops as a writer and I actually ended up getting a job based on that blog. I was able to prove to myself and to these employers that I could do it
Natalie MacLean 12:47
Oh, well, what was the job? Was it for a winery?
Jaime Lewis 12:50
It was for a wine marketing company that was actually pretty revolutionary. At the time, we did a lot of work for Trader Joe’s, the wonderful grocery store here in the States, and doing a lot of packaging that was about almost like a high low comparison? So lots of different bottles that were using vintage art and wonderful wines from around the Central Coast that we knew were excellent, but were in abundance at the wineries and they couldn’t use them. So packaging these fantastic wines with really innovative packaging, that was the kind of thing that would grab you. It didn’t look the same as everything else. And really earned Trader Joe’s a reputation as a wonderful place to buy wine at a great price.
Natalie MacLean 13:37
Wow. Something resonates with me there; the whole writing thing. I could go down a whole rabbit hole on that. But I think you’ve expressed it that you’re drawn more to the writing than the wine itself. Talk about that.
Jaime Lewis 13:48
Yeah. Which I’m embarrassed to say to your listeners and viewers.
Natalie MacLean 13:53
Oh, no, that’s me too, honestly, that they’ve already had to put up with me talking about that. But what is your experience of that? Like, for me wine was a hook that gave me the confidence to think I could be paid as a writer. It was my entry point. And you know, love wine, love the buzz of course in moderation. But there’s something about the flow of writing that’s even more hedonistic or buzzy.
Jaime Lewis 14:18
Yes. And Natalie, your discussion of the fact that you talk about the buzz is really pretty cutting edge. People don’t often want to talk about that. I know you know, but in your books, I remember when I was in New Zealand in our crappy little apartment. I remember reading you talking about the buzz and we can’t ignore the fact that this does inebriate us and there’s a whole aspect to that, that wine connoisseurs often don’t want to talk about. They want to believe that it’s solely about the way it tastes, about the geekiness where does it come from, provenance and all of that, but you and I both know and I think most people know that it is about the buzz. There is absolutely a place there for that.
And part of the reason I have transitioned quite a bit out of wine writing is, first of all, I really think that to be an anything writer, a writer about cars, a writer about tech, a writer about alternative medicine, whatever it is, you first have to be a writer. This is my opinion. You first must be a writer because you cannot communicate about anything unless you have the skills, the creativity, and I think the curiosity to do that, and perhaps a tiny bit of the mental illness to draw connections between disparate things is an important part of the craft of writing about anything.
But a big part of why I transitioned out of the drinking so much, I think is partly it’s impossible to keep up. Wine, I’ve heard before, is the number one consumer product with the most SKUs of any product. And part of the reason is, people are opening up different wineries, they’re starting new packages all the time, different labels. And then every year, it doubles, and then more people grow, and it increases exponentially all the time. Well, I can’t keep up with that. I don’t work in a wine shop, I don’t have close ties to anybody who would be willing to share with me at a wine shop and I’m the mother of two and a very busy person. I can’t possibly crack that many bottles at a time. There’s another aspect though, as I mentioned, I’m a mother. When I had my kids, my palate changed very much and I swear to you, it was a chemical change,
Natalie MacLean 16:31
What kind of change? Did it become more astute or less or whatever, however you want to put it?
Jaime Lewis 16:37
I mean, what I can say definitively is things like I was such a fan of IPAs, the hoppier, the better. When we were living in New Zealand, the moment I had my firstborn, I could not stand bitterness, which is tough with wine. I definitely gravitated over to things like Gruner Veltliner, Rieslings, not so much Chardonnays, but like zippy, bright, and maybe even with a hint of sweetness whites,
Natalie MacLean 17:04
You know, that’s also the characteristic, Jaime, of a super taster. It’s that sensitivity to bitterness. So maybe your palate evolved. And not that super taster is better as we know, it’s just different or more sensitive, and especially a sensitivity to bitterness. So perhaps something was at play there,
Jaime Lewis 17:20
Perhaps but isn’t that unfortunate, because one of the things that I’m so proud of is my appreciation of bitterness, which is something that Italians appreciate a lot. And so it’s just been tricky. Now, to make it even weirder, the metabolism thing. As a woman of 43, and my metabolism has changed so much. And so I’m really not able to handle my drink past one or two, two is pushing it, glasses of wine.
Natalie MacLean 17:48
It’s true. As we get older, we’re more sensitive to that aspect as well.
Jaime Lewis 17:51
So in any case, I’m very lucky to be able to fall back on writing as the real craft. But also, as time has gone on. I mean, I found even as I was in the real heyday of my writing about wine, I would turn off the tape because I would transcribe my interviews, I’d turn off the tape, stop recording. And then I would have a very intimate, wonderful conversation with the person in front of me who was either a winemaker or vineyard operator, a grower, whatever it was, and I started to feel like I was itching to turn the tape off so we could have this conversation. And that’s what inspired my podcast, which is really intimate conversations with the people who put things in our glass and put food on our table. And those are the conversations that I just, I yearn for them. I look forward to them. It’s been something that I’ve seen my listeners also have come to expect and enjoy.
Natalie MacLean 18:48
Oh, you do a great job on the Consumed podcast. And it’s those intimate stories that I think people gravitate toward. And I think any effective even wine marketing talks about the people. I mean, it’s almost a cliché, but to actually capture it is the challenge and that’s where the writing craft comes in. But let’s go back to some of your travels. And then we’ll come back to the writing as well. You had six months in Italy, and then you went six months in New Zealand. So what happened there. Tell us some of your most memorable experiences in New Zealand.
Jaime Lewis 19:21
New Zealand was, I mean, talk about cliché. It’s just jaw dropping beautiful, and I live in a very beautiful place. I’m in the Mediterranean stripe around the globe for sure. Where I live, I should say is midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the coast. So this is Paso Robles wine region, this is San Luis Obispo, Edna Valley, Rio Grande Valley wines and really diverse big diurnal swing. So we have some of the most classically beautiful wines here. And I had become so accustomed, you know at the lab palate around here is for sure, big, bold Cabs, big bold Syrah, lots of beautiful Rhone varietal wines. And we’re very much known in Paso Robles for our Zinfandel, which we consider a heritage variety here. But when I went over to New Zealand, I was okay with my husband pursuing the New Zealand aspect because I had had a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, which the first time you taste one of those actually, you don’t even have to taste it, it jumps out at you. And you can smell it long before it hits your palate.
Natalie MacLean 20:36
Yeah, you had some poetic ways to describe that. You were doing a test or something between a Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley and this New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc? Well, I just love the way you describe both. Do you recall the difference there?
Jaime Lewis 20:49
I kid you not. It was the 65th wine of the day, comparison of the day, and our sweet and wonderful instructors said here’s the last thing, you know, we’ve been spitting all day long, here’s our last comparison. This is a Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc variety and then here is a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. And like I said, all I’d really been tasting were things from my area. And so here he pours these two glasses, it always sounds a little awkward to talk about spitting and swallowing. But I did that day, that last wine, I could not spit those out. The Sancerre first, which is so delicate, nuanced and I think I told you, I just I think of it as like a really fine lace, like a Battenburg lace. And then this Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that is just, it like slaps you in the face in a very pleasurable way. And it’s like this very sunny, bright day, like sitting on the dock swimming in the lake. So the fact that those two wines, they showed me something critical, about what a variety can do; different parts of the globe, different cultures, for sure. And then you have your Old World and your New World. And God if that doesn’t inspire somebody, I don’t know what would. And so anyway, that Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough really shocked me. And when my husband said he wanted to go to New Zealand for half the year I said I know exactly the place. So yeah, had a wonderful, wonderful time there. Working in a tasting room in New Zealand is very different from well, in some ways very different from working in a tasting room in the States, which I had done a bit.
Natalie MacLean 22:30
Yeah, tell us about that experience in the tasting room.
Jaime Lewis 22:33
It was wonderful. The winery I worked for had many varieties, many different blends, it was just a smorgasbord it felt like and they Alan Scott wines are very popular, especially in the Motherland, in England, and they’re not as visible or available here in the States. So it was interesting to see so many people from all over the English Empire coming and tasting in the tasting room. But there are some differences for sure in what’s allowed and what’s culturally, okay.
One thing that’s very different is people in New Zealand or at least I should say maybe in Marlborough, they can bring their children in, and children can taste the wine, so long as the parents serve it to them. I couldn’t directly serve it to them, but the parents could. And I had a couple of experiences. One in particular, where parents brought their son in who couldn’t have been much older than my son, who is 11. And I thought it was beautiful. They were letting him taste the wines. But we had 13 wines. And this boy, by the end, tasted all of them and was, I don’t even know if buzzed says enough about what he was. And I felt really awkward about it. And I also didn’t want to challenge the culture. I just didn’t quite know what to do. And I think I was on my own and the tasting room that day. You know, they peeled out in their car and I just felt really nervous about it. Yeah, but it was the first time I’d ever seen a child get drunk and that felt really awkward to me and yet, I hope he’s okay. And if he is, assuming he is, what a great story.
Natalie MacLean 24:15
Yeah, he’s probably a teetotaler. I know with my son, because we always used to go to the booze store, “Mommy, are we going there again?”, but I know call Child Services. But the first time I gave him a wine to taste it was a full bodied, either a Shiraz or Amarone, but not sweet, and he thought it was total yuck. He doesn’t drink wine to this day. He’s 23. So anyway, no ice wine for that kid. But yeah, I can imagine that was unsettling, especially with, both in America and Canada, we have still this sort of prohibition mindset. I’m not advocating for getting kids drunk, but it’s not like we come from a European background where wine might have been served at the dinner table for a lot of families and children had small sips, so that must have been quite unsettling for you.
Jaime Lewis 25:03
It was and this child, I will give him credit, he could handle it, and he had great taste; his parents obviously had. This wasn’t the first time he’d encountered it. They obviously were very, this was part of their lives. You know, like you, we come from a puritanical place. I think Americans don’t quite know how to talk about wine still, it’s swung so so drastically from, it’s not okay to drink to having a lot of wine every day. And that’s really tough in my circle of friends. And I think in our age range, and just where we are in time as Americans, it’s very confusing. It’s very common to show up at any kind of social gathering and it’s very much expected that you would have a cooler full of whatever, and a table with a lot of drinks on it. And I’m very aware of that, acutely aware of that.
Natalie MacLean 25:59
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s the whole I’m hoping we’re getting past this but Mommy Juice and Mommy’s time out and you know, Mommy’s Little Helper, all the wine and vino and vinyasa. Sometimes as a woman who writes about wine I question, am I enabling that narrative? and it’s something that I’ve been more cognizant of lately, to not lose a sense of humour and acknowledgement that there is buzz, but there’s something about wine and women that is a little bit toxic in the way that some wines are marketed to us.
Jaime Lewis 26:29
Sure. I didn’t share with you before, I used to write a column called Women in Wine for Tasting Panel Magazine. And in talking to Women in Wine, because that was a trade publication, it was a lot of talking to people who are working in the three tier system. So somewhere in that space, and it’s difficult with gender, with alcohol and with trying to sell something, it gets very confusing very fast. And we talk a lot in those columns. And in the Women of the Vine symposium, which I would work often, there was a lot of discussion kind of off the record about, well, what do you do when you’ve been drinking? You’re trying to nab an account, and you are a woman in a man’s game. It gets really touchy, really fast.
So anyway, yes, I appreciate that you’re talking about that. And those like, Mommy’s Little Helper jokes, they were funny once. You know. And for the record, I do not think you are enabling it. Everybody’s responsible for themselves. I think the more we talk like this, I think the more it comes to the fore and people really do start to think about the buzz and how they’re using their favourite tipples. And anyway, I think it’s a conversation worth having.
Natalie MacLean 27:46
Absolutely. And while we’re there, I would like to talk about one of your podcast guests. Her name was Sandy. Last name is escaping me. But you were talking to her as a recovering alcoholic. Had she been in the business?
Jaime Lewis 27:59
No, she had not. We were old, we are old friends. But we worked for orchestras together as orchestra administrators. She was actually my boss and classical music and wine are often paired together. And so there was always wine around and watching her navigate that;, what a graceful navigation of something. She was unbelievable. She’s just a huge mentor to me, but that’s a big part of her life is navigating. What do you do when you live in wine country? And also of all the counties in the United States we have the highest rate of foetal alcohol syndrome.
Natalie MacLean 28:37
Oh my gosh, wow.
Jaime Lewis 28:39
It’s absolutely wine country. I don’t know. It’s just something to think about. It’s really become an issue around here. So watching Sandy navigate all of that, knowing what she knows. And knowing what she can and cannot do was really instructive for me and I, I am not an alcoholic. I have watched myself, you know, ebb and flow through what I can and can’t handle and the fact that I, I just know that I’m not, for now. I mean, Can we be real? Like, you know, that changes over time. But for her, she knew she couldn’t do it anymore. And what a wonderful communicator also, she can really communicate what it’s like to go through the desperation of not knowing how to stop and then the hope of finding hope. And she’s just so good at that. She was my favourite guest on the podcast, because she talked about things that most people don’t talk about, and certainly not on my podcast, because many of them are winemakers.
Natalie MacLean 29:39
Sure. They don’t want to touch that. It’s an episode I recommend everybody go listen to. I’m gonna re listen to it on your podcast because it’s very, very real talk, very open. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine what she went through. But in our social culture here in North America, there’s three reasons usually why you don’t . You’re pregnant, you have a religious belief, or you have a problem. And all three are just like if you’re not of the religion and you’re not pregnant, then you obviously abstaining, because you have a problem. And that’s hard too, that pressure.
Jaime Lewis 30:13
Yeah, my group of friends, I have a wonderful book club. Book clubs and wine, I’m so over that joke. And actually, we don’t, you know, we don’t actually drink all that much our group, it’s always available. But yeah, we’re good at a wonderful, not that it’s wrong to drink at book club, but it’s just very accepting. If you weren’t drinking, it’s not the immediate question. Oh, are you pregnant? Besides, we’re starting to age out of that. But I think a lot of book clubs and a lot of social groups that’s the first question if you’re not drinking, oh, are you expecting and I think that that’s something that probably should change. Natalie, how did we become so stodgy? How did we become this way?
Natalie MacLean 30:54
I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. I guess we’re a product of our culture, but we can also remake ourselves. I’m a big believer in redemption stories and finding your way back again.
Natalie MacLean 31:09
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our chat with Jaime. Here are my takeaways.
I like Jaime’s reality take on why the buzz or alcohol in wine is often not mentioned in a lot of wine writing. I, too, wish there was more acknowledgement of wine’s full-bodied sensory experience.
Number two, I enjoyed her stories about Italian wine and food culture, with a nod to Audrey Hepburn.
And three, I’m fascinated with the impact pregnancy has on your palate, along with other physical and mental changes from depression to other diseases. We are all so connected.
In the show notes you’ll find my email contact, a link to the post Diary of a Book Launch, the full transcript of our conversation with Jaime, links to her website, podcasts and books, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/168. Email me if you have a sip tip question or want to be a beta reader of my new book at Natalie @nataliemaclean.com you won’t want to miss next week when we continue our chat with Jaime. In the meantime, if you missed episode 111 go back and take a listen. I chat about ice wine cocktails and pairing ice wine with chilli chips with Karen King. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Karen King 32:48
We decided to pair it again with spicy appetisers; things like tortilla chips or anything that has a little spicy chilli and heat kind of a flavour to it, so that people could taste it and see how it pairs. Because it has a big initial impact of complex fruit then it goes through that caramelised flavour and then it gets into this acidity and usually at the end, there’s another kind of fruit note. In this case, it’s the orange, tangerine, grapefruit notes. So I’m going to have you taste it straight up first, just so you can notice the last notes and you really have to pay attention for them.
Natalie MacLean 33:28
I’m loving that. I don’t think it needs anything but
Karen King 33:32
You mean food? Yeah,
Natalie MacLean 33:34
No, just pair it with more of this
Natalie MacLean 33:41
If you like this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who be interested in the wines we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I have something great is in your class this week. Perhaps a terrific Italian wine
Natalie MacLean 34:08
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.