Many of us are starting to learn about wine online.
Here to chat with us is Natalie MacLean who offers Canada’s most popular online wine and food pairing classes, including a free, wine and food pairing intro class here.
What have you observed that’s changed in the way people learn about wine during the lockdown?
– The lockdown forced a mindset shift that you can learn about such a sensory subject like wine online just as effectively, if not more so, than in a physical class.
– So there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of people taking online classes – they’re looking for creative, fun ways to learn from home.
What would be the advantage of taking a wine course online versus in person?
– You don’t have to drink and drive, find parking or a sitter.
– Couples often take the course together for date night (you can’t sneak an extra person into a physical class ;)
– Those who live outside major cities often don’t have wine classes available to them locally.
– Those with mobility or other health issues find it much easier to learn from home.
– Unlike physical courses that are over when they’re done, online classes continue that connection online through a private members’ group where we continue to taste together.
Is the connection really the same online?
– It’s not the same, but it can feel just as strong in a different way.
– We’re not physically together with the same group of friends, but we’re meeting people who share the same passion for food and wine and love talking about it.
– That’s a strong connection when you feel you’ve met your tribe.
– Many of my students are from Quebec where the wine and food culture is so strong.
– However, there are also wine lovers across Canada, the US, UK, Brazil, the Netherlands.
– It feels like you’re visiting wine-loving friends around the world.
Do you think the shift to online learning is permanent?
– Yes, people have discovered how easy, effective and enjoyable it is to learn online.
– Online won’t ever replace in person learning, but I think it will be an equal companion and bring in new wine lovers who might not have had access to courses in the past or who were just too intimated to take one.
How has the lockdown affected wineries?
– I’ve spoken to several wineries recently and their tasting room sales are down because they’ve been closed. Their restaurant have also been closed.
– Most wineries have fewer than 20 people, so they don’t produce enough volume to be stocked in the major liquor store chains.
– Most wineries have focused on online shipping, including those who never did so before. Even though this hasn’t replaced their lost sales, but it has been extremely successful for them.
– Many people want to support local businesses because they knew how much the lockdown was effecting them.
– Wineries are hoping that customers who purchased from them directly online will continue doing so going forward, especially when they realize how easy it is to do and have your wine arrive on your doorstep.
What’s the outlook for wineries as restrictions start to ease?
– Those I spoke to are optimistic, especially about locally based tourism this summer and fall.
– People still want to help local businesses and many would prefer a vacation they can drive to locally versus having to fly somewhere with the health risks that remain; as well as the hassles of air travel now.
Do you still offer a free Food and Wine Pairing Guide?
Yes, you can find it at nataliemaclean.com. Look for the yellow button near the top of the page.