Natalie MacLean is tired of the harmful notion that women are driven to drink.
A good example of this, and one that will likely be familiar to anyone who’s on social media, is the “wine mom” label, used typically to describe a middle-class mother who uses alcohol to cope with parenting stress.
MacLean, an author, wine critic and respected sommelier, says the wine mom memes may be light-hearted, but reveal a “bitter edge of resentment.”
“Nobody’s thanking Mommy, so Mommy will thank herself with another glass of wine. That’s where we get into encouraging women to drink too much,” she said.
MacLean launched her memoir, “Wine Witch On Fire,” with a wine tasting and pairing lunch at Peller Estates in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Saturday, May 13.
Her latest book follows her experience navigating life after her husband of 20 years suddenly asked for a separation, chronicling her “rising from the ashes of divorce, defamation and drinking too much,” segmented with an associated wine.
During the wine pairing Q&A session, MacLean said that while in the throws of divorce, she was faced with a “mob of online rivals” coming for her job.
While writing the memoir, MacLean said she faced sexism in the wine industry and began to hear more stories from other women with similar experiences.
“The industry is very clumpy, and because of its active social grapevine, people are afraid to speak out – especially young women,” she said.
“It’s not just something people in the industry need to think about, but everyone else as well,” she added.
Readers seemed to resonate with the book’s message, particularly Marie Mitchell, a Port Dover resident and MacLean’s beta reader who offered her feedback prior to publication.
During the Q&A session, Mitchell compared MacLean’s early experiences of facing workplace abuse to her own experiences working in a retail pharmacy.
“I think this is a lot of our stories, so, thank you,” Mitchell told her during the Q&A session.
As for why NOTL was chosen for the launch, MacLean said, “These are my people. This is wine country.”
“I’ve been writing about this place and drinking these wines for years and I really respect what Peller has done in this region, not just for their wines and the spectacular range they had, but for the economic contributions they’ve made.”
Along with chats about the memoir, ticket holders were able to either enjoy an intimate tasting, including a range of Peller wines or a pairing lunch including three courses and a conversation with the author.
MacLean’s attitude toward wine was encompassed perfectly throughout the launch party.
“For me, wine is a total experience. What goes on around the glass interests me almost more than what’s in the glass. It’s a total sensory experience when you’re having it with food and friends.”
“Wine Witch On Fire” is available now at most book stores and on MacLean’s website at nataliemaclean.com.