For the Love of Wine – A Master of Wine’s Perspective
By Kate McIntyre MW
The wine industry inspires me, nurtures me and provides a unique forum for a complex and rewarding career. It carries me along, from adventure to adventure.
But today’s society’s attitude to alcohol depresses me and frustrates me. For example, when I talk about “having a drink,” I really mean, one drink. One glass. Maybe two.
In Australian vernacular, “having a drink” for most, and when discussed in the media, means “an entire session” of drinking. Drinking many drinks, that is, until inebriated, until we fall down, until we can’t drink any more.
I have been working in the wine industry now for 23 years, and before that, I grew up in a family that not only enjoyed wine at dinner, but my dad bought and planted and founded a vineyard and winery.
He wanted to make wine. He did, and still does, and now, so do I.
A glass of wine can tell us so much. About the place it comes from and the person who made it and about ourselves as well, as we consume it. The wine that speaks to me is the wine I love – it is the colour, the aromas, the flavours, the balance of fruit, acid, tannin, sugar, intangible aromas and flavours that we try desperately to describe – and the alcohol.
Not for how the alcohol makes me drunk, but for how it sits in balance with all the other aspects of the wine. The texture it gives to a wine. The way it helps a wine to evolve and develop as it ages, and how it preserves the fruit and extends the life of this fermented juice.
I love how good wine, good food and good company all make each other better.
Every now and again I love wine too much, but less often as I get older, a little wiser, and definitely less resilient. I don’t enjoy being drunk, I dislike the feeling of being out of control, and I hate having a hangover. It seems such a waste of time.
I have learned to slow down and savour a wine that is truly delicious, and complex and that speaks to me and tells me stories of who it is and where it comes from and whose hands were involved in helping it to become wine.
I don’t need too much. A beautiful glass. Preferably with a friend I treasure, talking about everything and nothing and a few bites of food. This is the ideal, for me.
Wine has been and continues to be a huge part of my world, in a really positive way. Growing grapes, making them into wine, travelling to some of the most beautiful places in the world to visit grape growers and wine makers, tasting wines for fun, to learn, to be better able to do my job, to become a Master of Wine.
People who do not have as much wine in their lives as me are still shocked to see me not finish a glass, to spit wine out after tasting it, and to learn that prior to passing my Master of Wine exams I tasted but did not actually drink any wine (or alcohol) for nearly 6 months, because sometimes, the alcohol that is essential to balance in wine can get in the way.
If I had drunk all the wine I have tried in my life, I wouldn’t be here today. I drive a lot for work, and so there are many times that I taste but don’t drink. But when I do drink a glass of something, I want it to grab my attention. When a glass of wine smells so good, I can sit and smell it all night, I know it’s a wine to drink, not just to taste.
Balance in wine, balance in life, balance in all things. This is what I strive for and I love my wine life.
I love wine. Not all wine, and not all the time.
We talk about structural balance in wine being a key to quality and perhaps balance in the language we use when talking about drinking wine (rather than alcohol consumption) could help us to have a more healthy and balanced relationship with wine.
How to find balance when drinking? The Italians have a term for great wines – vini da meditazione. Can drinking a glass of wine be a form of meditation? For me it is.
Taste more, drink a little less and only ever what you love. Drink it slowly and be in the moment. Make every sniff and sip count. Talk about what you like about it with the person you are sharing it with. And if you don’t love it, don’t drink it.
I hope this helps you to also find ways to love wine in a way that is fulfilling, gratifying and enjoyed in the company of friends and family.
Kate McIntyre MW is a Master of Wine, Marketing Manager and part-time wine maker at Moorooduc Estate, Mornington Peninsula. She is also a Wine Educator – Wine and Spirits Education Trust and Institute of Masters of Wine, sometime wine writer, communicator and traveller with her faithful poodle, Polly.
What We're Reading:
There's no shortage of wine stories and media inundating our IN Boxes. Here's what has piqued our interest this week.
Social Media Changed What It Means to Keep Up With the Joneses and It's Taking a Toll on Everyone's Mental Health – Inc.com
Quit trying to impress people. Not only is it costing you money, but it may be costing you your mental health.
There’s A Dark Side to Meditation That No-one Talks About – Quartz.com
For all the benefits that are portrayed as a result of mediation, this practice can have unintended consequences.
Meet the Tribe!
Our community is only as strong as the company we keep, and here we meet some of the folks who make our profession so dynamic.
Gregg Perkins – SVP Business Development and National Accounts, Broadbent Selections, Florida (USA)
Years In The Industry:
February of 2020 will mark forty years in the wine industry for me. One might say that I have had the opportunity to see a few wine trends come and go. I started when the drinking age was 18, enjoying wine positions in retail, wholesale and as a supplier. Wine is a fabulous industry if you are with the right company and enjoy your role.
My Biggest Challenge to Wellness:
To practice healthy habits in spite of varied daily routines due to extensive travel for work. Overcoming an injury from a well intentioned but harming assist in supta kurmasana (Tortoise pose) in Ashtanga yoga. The injury necessitated less intense workouts, which combined with daily work stress, resulted in a gain of 15 pounds last year. Therefore, I constantly find myself attempting to balance out stress, diet and exercise.
How I Keep it Together to Stay Well:
Starting with the ancient Indian healthcare approach of Ayurveda. Using a neti pot is great for clearing nasal passages particularly when taking in pollen season all over the country. Drinking dandelion root tea with turmeric and ginger while taking milk thistle and B12 daily to assist in liver health.
Moderation of the ‘big five’ detox items; sugar, gluten, dairy, caffeine and alcohol, and trying to eat as naturally as possible. Detoxing the ‘big five’ for one to three weeks at a time.
Attempting to engage in the practice of ahimsa (non-harming) to others and to self. Socializing with positive people who help to raise my vibrations. Practicing daily 20 minute meditations for a mind defrag, five-mile meditative walks by the water when home, going to the gym to build strength and stability, and teaching and practicing yoga to lengthen and strengthen while calming the mind.
Practicing Yin yoga in hotel rooms on the road to balance the yang of Ashtanga yoga. I enjoy a deep tissue massage every third week, which gets me in tune with what i have done to my body and travel with a lacrosse ball for selective myofascial release. Finally, eight hours of sleep is the daily goal.
You can connect with Gregg on Instagram at @stelvintwister
Let's Meet Up!
As work life has it, we are traveling over the next few months and would love to see you.
Co-host Folio Fine Wine Partners Annual Portfolio Tasting in San Francisco, September 9 (Beck)
Speaker at Dream Big Darling in Paso Robles, September 15 to 17 (Cathy)
Folio Fine Wine Partners Annual Portfolio Tasting in New York, September 17 (Beck)
Attendee at Australian Women in Wine Awards in New York, September 17 (Beck)
Finalist at Louis Roederer Wine Writers' Awards, London, September 18 (Cathy)
Emcee at Australia Decanted in Lake Tahoe, Oct. 6 to 9 (Cathy)
Attendee at ProWine China in Shanghai, November 12 to 14 (Cathy)
Presenter at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, February 25 to 29 (Cathy)
Presenter at the Future Wine Expo in Santa Rosa, May 12 and 13 (Cathy)