Renowned wine critic a fan of B.C. wines

One of the world’s top wine writers complains she can’t get many B.C. wines in Ontario because we drink them all here within the province.

One of the world’s top wine writers complains she can’t get many B.C. wines in Ontario because we drink them all here within the province.

Natalie MacLean made a brief stop in Kelowna Tuesday evening to talk about wines and her new book, which is based on several years visiting wine regions throughout the world on a quest for the world’s best bargain wines.

Called Unquenchable, it follows her bestselling book Red, White and Drunk All Over.

B.C. wines, she says, are spectacular.

“They’re different from those of Niagara and other wine regions, with concentrated flavour, but flavour that holds something in reserve; a pent-up energy. They’re not too heavy and they don’t clobber food,” she commented.

“Acidity is to wine what salt is to food,” she explains, and B.C. wines have good complexity of flavour, including balanced acidity.

“There’s a thirst for more B.C. wine across the country,” she adds.

With her experience of tasting her way through the world’s wine regions, she says there are big differences in regional wines, both in style, the soils and climate the grapes are grown in and cultural differences.

“Wine and food grow up together,” notes MacLean.

She also believes the characteristics of the winemaker can tell you something about their wines.

For instance, Wolf Blass of Australia is up-front, full-bodied with little acidity, like his wines, she comments with a grin.

In the book, she says she intentionally focussed on the people behind the wineries and the wines, rather than presenting just an endless list of tasting notes, although those do appear at the end of each chapter, along with some recommended food pairings.

“It talks about the path followed from grape to glass; along with some armchair travel,” she says.

She admits you have to “kiss a lot of frogs to find the princess,” so she’s tasted a lot of wines to come up with the good value wines in her book and on her website, which boasts 100,000 unique visits a month, and in her e-newsletter, which has 125,000 subscribers.

MacLean says she stumbled into the wine writing business, following a career in high-tech.

She had taken a sommelier course for fun, because she and her husband enjoyed wines with their meals and she found herself fascinated.

Pregnant with her first child, she took a maternity leave and during that pitched her first wine column to a magazine.

That was the beginning, as she slowly began to write more and now earns her living writing about wines.

“It’s pairing wine and words,” she says.

Her website features of layers of information, from particular wines, to pairing food and wines, to ‘aps’ for doing that. It’s at

Her book is available at local bookstores and the B.C. Wine Museum in the Laurel Building on Ellis Street.