EP #153

Wine Witch on Fire with Natalie Maclean

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode with Natalie Maclean, Molly Watts delves into her journey of overcoming family alcohol abuse and cultivating a more balanced relationship with alcohol. Sharing insights from Maclean’s book “Unfiltered,” they offer practical tips for mindful drinking, such as pausing before imbibing and integrating non-alcoholic alternatives. Reflecting on societal norms and gendered marketing in the wine industry, Watts and Maclean challenge stereotypes and advocate for a nuanced approach to alcohol consumption. They also explore the benefits of reducing alcohol intake for mental health and creativity, emphasizing the importance of self-reflection and progress in the journey towards moderation. Throughout the episode, they share personal experiences, recommendations for low-alcohol wines, and strategies for navigating social situations involving alcohol with mindfulness and intention.

Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habits. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello, and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from well, it’s a very rain soaked Oregon right now. We are under a flood watch. We have high wind warnings. It has been downpouring pretty much ever since Friday. And some really strong weather coming in over them overnight, both Friday night, Saturday night. And I heard from a friend that we have a convergence of three atmospheric rivers happening here in Oregon right now, you don’t really know what an atmospheric river is. But it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a very dry time anytime soon here in Oregon. So that’s what’s happening. How are you doing? Welcome to December. And I know there’s a lot of thinking and a lot of thoughts that go into the holidays around alcohol, I want you to think about making plans ahead of time, do that doable drink plan, decide before you go to an event, what you’re going to be drinking, how much and really use that logical prefrontal cortex to help guide your decisions that align with your long term goals. Right. I was just saying this in my group coaching over the weekend, and who into a client actually on Friday as well. We can’t achieve a goal of being an alcohol minimalist without drinking less, right? We got to drink less to be someone who drinks less alcohol. I know that sounds very shocking, right? Really Thunderstruck there by that simple phrase. But making a plan for what you’re going to drink. Prioritizing alcohol free days. That’s the way we end up being someone who at the end of the month in December, has not drank as much as we, you know, as we might have. We want to set our intentions to be able to drink less, it’s absolutely possible friends, for you to include alcohol in your life in a minimal way. And to keep those levels low risk to enjoy alcohol when you do go out to a party deal to have a glass of wine, be able to have a beer, mixed drink whatever it is, and then not overdo it. It is possible I promise. Today on the show, I am super excited to share with you this conversation I had with Natalie Maclean. Natalie is a wine critic, a journalist and an author. And she has written a book recently that is quite different from some of her earlier work. And I’ll tell you what it says the book is called wine which on fire. And it is a powerful memoir about Natalie’s life and career and at a time when she went through some really hard times and this was maybe 10 years ago. But here’s what it says Natalie MacLean, a best selling wine writer is shocked when her husband of 20 years a high powered CEO demands a divorce. Her year gets even worse when an online mob of rivals comes for her career. wavering between despair and determination she must fight for her son rebuilt her career and salvage her self worth using her superpowers, heart humor and an uncanny ability to pair wine and food. Natalie questions her insider role in the slick marketing that encourages women to drink too much. While she battles the wine world’s veiled misogyny, facing the worst vintage of her life. She reconnects with the vineyards that once brought her joy the friend to sustain her and her own belief in second And chances are this true coming of middle age story is about transforming your life and finding love along the way. So this book is a memoir. It wasn’t meant to be a self help Quizlet book. But Natalie and I talk about that it has kind of become that. And one of the things that I think is so awesome about what this conversation is about this drama that was happening to her and realizing that she was over drinking, and how she went about changing that and how she still includes alcohol in her life. She still has a very centered career in wine. She has a podcast that she talks about, it’s very well reviewed for recommendations on pairings of wine and things like that. But she’s now somebody who understands and wants to include alcohol in her life in a minimal or moderate way. And she talks about this inside of the book and she has some tips on ways of being moderate without having to be fully sober, right so coldly what we like to talk about here on the alcohol minimalist podcast, and she says these are her tips. Number one, you have to deal with underlying issues. She had to deal with the depression from her divorce and anxiety from this online mobbing first she had to take care of the reasons that she was turning to alcohol to numb herself, right? We have to understand our mental health and what’s happening. Number two, she says pause and ask what was the thought right before the thought that said I need a glass of wine. If it’s about stress, find a different way to deal with that. Take a walk, have a bath, etc. Sound familiar? If you’ve been listening to this podcast for any length of time, I’ve talked about the PB and J tool, pause and ponder. We want to understand our thinking because it is our thinking our thoughts that fuel our desire to drink alcohol. And it’s those thoughts that need to be challenged, right? Do you really need a glass of wine? No, you want to relax that there’s a difference. Her third tip, pour half a full bottle of wine into an empty half bottle and save it for more mindful drinking. So basically split the bottle into and put one away. Right. These are tips. We talked about doing things like that all around around here all the time. She says drink one glass of water for every glass of wine to stay hydrated, always good to drink your water. And her last one is make low and no alcohol wines part of your repertoire. Those of you that have been here again for a while know that non alcoholic drinks are something that I strongly believe helped me change my 30 plus year daily drinking habit. Maybe 25 plus years. Anyways, long term decades of a daily drinking pattern and non alcoholic drinks are absolutely not going to lead you down the path of over drinking, they are going to lead you to not over drinking. So this garbage that some of the recovery industry tells you that it’s a trigger. No, it is something that is a tool if you use it correctly, and if your mindset is appropriate for how you are incorporating using non alcoholic beverages in your life. So again, that was a tip from from Natalie’s book, I think you’re really going to enjoy this conversation. I certainly enjoyed having her on the show. All of the links to the book to all of her work will be in the show notes. And without further ado, here is my conversation with Natalie Maclean. Good morning, Natalie, thank you so much for being here on the alcohol minimalist podcast. I just cannot wait to have this conversation and I appreciate you taking the time. Oh, I’m I’m so pleased to be here with you, Molly. I just think we’re soul sisters when it comes to wine and alcohol in terms of where you’re coming from and the message that I’m trying to get out with my latest book, which is kind of impressive and, and at the same time curious, right? Because your history, your legacy, what the career that you’ve had, over decades, has been all about teaching people about wine and in your previous books, maybe even kind of celebrating over drinking to some degree. Absolutely. Well, the first, the title of my first book was red, white and drunk all over. Subtitled. A wine soaked journey from grape to glass number two was unquenchable. A tipsy search for the world’s best bargain wines. And of course, this one is wine which on fire rising from the ashes of divorce, defamation and drinking too much. So it’s almost like a trilogy and a journey right there in the titles. But yeah, so I used to make my overdrinking habits fodder for humor. But now I’m really hoping they’ll fuel a discussion on overdrinking particularly as it relates to women but I think it’s a relevant discussion for everyone. Yeah, absolutely. We just actually this last month here on alcohol minimalist we talked about doing November as no binge November really didn’t know way to help educate people even on what a binge by definition looks like. And understanding because so much of what I talk about is just helping people really understand. And I think for you, too, during this process, so this book takes place more than more than 10 years ago now, right in real time, the process that you went through during that year, a kind of this awareness and an enlightenment, in your own mind, did digging into the science of alcohol and understanding kind of the true definitions of what moderate drinking looks like. Did they surprise you? Did you? I mean, was it like in you’re like, Oh, ha, this is not me. Right? Well, yeah, there’s a lot of factors coming into play. So alcoholism runs in my family. And my relatives like to joke that the moth that being made likes to fly a little too close to the flame when they see what I do for a living. But, you know, the whole my problem with wine or overdrinking really focused, as you said about a decade ago, I call it my no good, terrible, very bad vintage, personally and professionally. And in response to two big issues. A sudden divorce from a husband of 20 years and an online mobbing on social media. In response to those issues, depression and anxiety I started drinking too much. I mean, I had easy access to wine. I had the cloak of professional response or respectability, of always having a wineglass in my hand was almost de rigueur. So I really did as you say, Molly had to dig down into not just the science of of overdrinking, but also, why was I doing it? You know, what, okay, there were these big issues in my life. So that’s pretty obvious. But I was in therapy, and still am to the to this day, I’m a big proponent of it. But what I found is that the first step was dealing with those underlying issues that depression and anxiety, and then my need for you know, that thought I need to drink. Yeah, really subsided substantially. But you know, those therapy sessions were in the book, early readers are finding them very helpful wasn’t meant to be a self help book, but it’s kind of turned out to be that. But I share a lot of other tips in the book as well. Yeah, you just said something that is music to my ears, you may not realize it, but I we talk a lot about how our thoughts, fuel our feelings and drive our actions around here. So thoughts, feelings, actions, and that very sneaky little thought of I need a drink, I actually share that in my own book about how the realisation that that, that that thought was there, I need as opposed to I want or anything else, and how that that thought I need fueled my desire to drink, and how changing that and how realizing like, oh, wait a second. That thought isn’t actually true. What I what I want is to feel relaxed. Yes. And I am seeking that in this. This glass of alcohol. Right? Exactly. And, and those words like, yeah, like, need and deserve, and they have the bitter edge of someone’s not appreciating you or you’re not appreciating yourself. And so you’re reaching out for something you think will solve that, but it actually won’t. And that is also one of the tips. What was the thought? Just before the thought that said, I need a drink? Yeah, I saw that in your in the in those notes that I thought. Yeah, exactly. You’re doing exactly what I talked to people all about here. All the time is we got to figure out the why behind why we’re drinking so many people. And I’m sure you had this thought for a long time was well, I just really like wine. Right? I just really like it like I love the taste of a good of a good piano, right? That’s like the storyline and so they feel like that’s the reason that they drink is because I just love it. And then you realize, and I think this happened for you during that terrible horrible bad vintage year. You realize that this idea that you really loved it. You didn’t love what was happening as a result of overdrinking. No you know it’s it I compare it to the you know, there’s a reason we don’t eat an entire chocolate cake even though we may feel like doing that sometimes, right? It actually not only is it not good for us, not healthy forests, but in the end near the end of that cake or halfway through it doesn’t even taste good. We’re just doing it to numb drown whatever out those feelings. And you know, whereas I’ve been in beautiful settings, restaurants where you get just the right amount, the right serving of the cake, and it’s wonderful, you slow down, you savor it. I mean, there’s a reason that wine isn’t served in shooter glasses and you just knock it back. It truly is meant to be the drink of coffee. conversation to be savored for its sensory pleasures over dinner with friends. And that’s why we have, you know, different shaped wine glasses for different wines. Yeah, what I think you captured right there. And I think is something that is a thread that goes throughout this book. We talk a lot about the the narrative around alcohol is your either somebody who can drink or you cannot drink and should not drink. And so there is like this black and white. Yes, good and bad, right and wrong culture around it. And very little conversation about some of the true positive social interactions that people have when they’re enjoying a glass of wine, right? It’s not, there is absolutely some reasons that people choose to include alcohol in their lives and mill in a minimal way that are that are beneficial for us in a social way. And I love the fact that you when you decided, I mean, was it because you were in the wine industry? And you had, I mean, a very realistic business mindset that said, Well, I can’t stop drinking altogether? Or was it something that you really just like? No, I really, I want to explore this, I think the opportunity is there to drink less and be able to do that. The I asked my therapist point blank, because as I said, alcohol ism runs in my family. So I just said, should I should I go sober? Should I become sober? And she said, Well, let’s explore harm reduction first, because I think going sober completely, is punitive, especially for my career, I would have to find another career, but but I’m not going to ruin my health for my career. So I was open to that possibility of just No more drinking. But she said also, in her experience, as a therapist, she said, usually telling someone outright to go cold turkey on whatever it is they’re doing often is ineffective. It’s definitely the right way for some people who have hit rock bottom, have a medical condition, whatever. But she said in your situation, because every situation is different. Let’s see if we can develop some techniques now that we’ve sort of dealt with the depression and anxiety. Let’s get down to some more specific techniques. And yes, you’re absolutely right, Molly, there’s just I don’t find there’s any discussion in that middle ground, there’s sober curious, dry January, and then there’s, you have a problem. And there’s a lot of shaming to about overdrinking or whatever. Like, I know, when when I went out for dinner with girlfriends, years back, and it was the first time I didn’t have a glass of wine, I ordered water. They said you’re pregnant. Right? Right. You know, that’s the assumption. You’re either pregnant, you have a problem with alcohol, or perhaps there’s a religious reason that there can be nothing else. And I really do want to help others like me who love wine, but want to have a good relationship with it, to find that middle ground. I, you and again, that is exactly what I do around here, I hope. And I think one of the problems is is that a lot of people don’t understand what the middle area is and what they’re looking for. They’re seeking for the answer of what is a healthy relationship with wine. And so we talk a lot about low risk limits around here. And but one thing that you mentioned there in that conversation was the going out with with friends with women and the when you don’t have a drink people like Yes, are you pregnant. But let’s talk a little bit about the messaging that is delivered around wine for women, because it is a big part of your book. And it is super important not only in your own history in the wine industry, which I think for people that are going to read this book, you’re really good at your eyes are going to be very opened wide about some of the, you know, what we may perceive as a glamorous industry, right? Some of the that’s peeled back a little bit in this book for sure. Let’s talk about messaging and the narrative. And how do you feel about that with regards to women in terms of where you’ve been with how you might have perpetuated some of that messaging early on in your career and how you feel about it now? Sure. So yes, I have a marketing background. So I love the marketing angle when it comes to wine just as a sort of an interesting cultural phenomenon. But in wine, which on fire, I talk about that women represent one of the fastest growing segments. I mean, we’ve always been household purchasers of just about everything from Shreddies to sgds. And we buy the majority of wine that comes into the household. Now we drink the majority of it 66% of it, but the marketing message that I find some companies are using or portraying is that we’re wallets now. Women were cash cows literally, who will drink the cutesy pink bow tie high heel, kind of crappy wines that men would not drink. And you know, we subsidize the more artisanal complex wines that are marketed toward men. And the message on the bottle, Molly is that on some bottles, is that where either babes or battle axes. So we’re either reaching for those brands that have short black dresses, red lipstick, because it’s girls night out or it’s a spa day or whatever, or we’re going for labels like mad housewife, with taglines dinner be damned, just to dry to obliviated another day of motherhood and exhaustion. Again, there’s no middle ground or respectful stories when it comes to those narratives and those labels. And I think, you know, on one level, as you know, there’s a lot of laugh out loud memes and jokes on social media, you know, wine is to women as duct tape is to men. And you know, okay, but I think if we dig a level deeper on labels that profit from a feeling of powerlessness, or thank lessness it’s a more it’s a message we need to, to really question when it comes to women. Because the message, the first message is that we need a reason to have a glass of wine, it’s got to be celebratory, or with girls night out or whatever. No one asks a man why he wants a drink. He has one because he wants one. And then on a deeper level level, it’s no one’s thinking mom, or the woman. So mom will think herself to a drink. And then another one, and then another one. And, you know, you alluded to this, but in the book, I say, you know, I wasn’t a bystander in this labeling game, or the LOL memes. I was team captain. I called my glass of wine at 5pm Mommy’s Little Helper. And you know, oh, yeah, lol, but there is a tinge of bitterness there too. And I think I had to question my own place in this whole marketing game, you know, was I enabling others to feel good about their overdrinking? Was I bringing more pleasure or pain into the world not just through my own habits, but what I was encouraging others, especially women to do? Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. Because I think that, too, is just so valuable for people to hear. And it is one of the things that we can’t escape is the narrative that is going to be continued on around us, because you talked about it a little bit, too, in terms of just the industry. But there’s there’s an and how that impacts you in terms of or impacted you in the sight of this book. Was this online, you know, tacked on you in terms of your credibility as what’s your is your source of income? I mean, that’s a big deal. And the the stakeholders in these conversations, right? The alcohol industry themselves, all of the people that just like you, the wine critics, everyone has a stake in writing this narrative. And we need to be careful about how we are positioning that, especially to women. You talked about it in the book. And I was wondering about this, because the timing of when you wrote this book is notably, like I said, it was more than a decade ago that this actually took place. Did the timing of the of the. And I don’t know when you started writing, but the timing of the pandemic, which we saw huge increases in women’s consumption of wine and a narrative that really started to shift, especially for women during that time. Did that impact your decision to write this book when you did? And I know that again, some of this just you, I think you make a comment about right from a scar not from an open wound that you know, at the end of your book, and I think that’s, there’s probably there was some time and healing that needed to take place before you were ready to write this book. But did that influence you at all to just the timing of of what we’ve seen in terms of women’s women’s consumption? Yes. So even though the events in this book took place a decade ago, before me too before, however, Harvey Weinstein and others, I think the, the issues and the the situation is more relevant today than it even was back then. During the pandemic, you know, there’s been various studies released but women, especially women, with children, increased their alcohol consumption, something like 323% versus just just 39% for the overall population. And I think we gave that overconsumption culturally a pass everyone was just trying to cope with all of the added roles and stressors of not being able to go out being confined in a bubble worried about everybody’s health. But I think now that we’ve emerged from the pandemic, and I hope that remains the case, I think we’re reexamining, okay, a lot changed. And a lot of people did not recalibrate, to pre pandemic levels of drinking, they just kept going with it. And, you know, wine mom, culture is a whole other phenomenon that had always been there, but really came on strong during the pandemic. So I guess it did influence my desire to write wine, which on fire, because I thought, I think we need to change the conversation and try to examine those assumptions that, you know, that those crutches we were all using during the pandemic, you know, it’s not serving us well. And, you know, it didn’t 10 years ago for me, but a lot of people, you know, experienced the same thing, but in a different situation, during the pandemic, and I think we all need to kind of wake up and smell. Yeah, right. Whatever. Yeah. One of the things Yeah. And I think that, that what I love about this book, so first of all, like you said, this wasn’t written to be a self help book. This is a memoir. But what I love about the fact especially coming at it from the angle that that I talk about, right, which is drinking less, being able to include alcohol in your life in a minimal way, and understanding what drives your over drinking habits, and whether it’s over drinking in a binge way, or on a just on a daily basis, and that you can’t you know, when you’re drinking three to half a bottle of wine every night, you’re over drinking, I mean, that’s the bottom line. And so we have to be willing to explore all of that. And the, the book is a synopsis of like you said, this year, that was really terrible. And during that year of really hard stuff, life stuff, right? You managed to work on your relationship with alcohol, and change it for the better. And that is something that I want people to understand, because that’s really what this this book kind of does, it takes you through that journey, right? I hear from people all the time, like, well, I want to but I just, you know, I want to change, but I’ve got this going on or that going on? Or you know, and life’s just so hard, and it’s the holidays and etcetera, etcetera, right? Mm hmm. We have to be willing to take a turn and dive into this work right away. Because every day that we don’t do it is just a day that we’re we’re still spending it in an overdrinking pattern, which is just not not a healthy way to live your life. Yeah, and every little bit helps Molly. So I, you know, my journey that year was not linear. It wasn’t like, Okay, I need to like fix this drinking problem. And then by the end, I could tie it up with a shiny red bow. It was all forward forward motion. No, it wasn’t, it was forward and back. And then you know, it’s like, you know, but begin today begin, at least with the questions. It’s like, say, saying, I’m not going to buy that new dress until I lose 10 pounds. How about buying a dress starting today, and then feeling good about how you look? And then perhaps, that I’m just trying to make a rough analogy here. Maybe you feel good about yourself, and it becomes easier to start watching your diet or whatever you’re doing. But I encourage people to think about it. It’s not all or nothing, just like it’s not all or nothing between sobriety and over drinking. The journey itself is not all or nothing. Just start with wherever you’re at, make some progress. No, there’ll be setbacks. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Because that’s what keeps us from making progress slip up, it’s human fail, start over again. It’s the starting over again, that will really in the end get you to where you want to be with with wine with alcohol. Yeah, absolutely. I tell people all the time, that the secret to getting there faster is to keep going. I mean, there’s no getting there faster, you just gotta keep going. You got to get yourself back up. You got to learn from your be willing to be curious and compassionate with yourself understand what happened. And use it as a reason to, to show up differently next time. When we when we do that. And small steps lead to those big wins. It’s every single step small steps along the way. And there’s no better time than starting than right now. Your life isn’t gonna get easier. Trust me, it’s not gonna get you know, things aren’t going to just get rosy better just because you wish they were it takes action. And you can actually do it during the midst of crisis, which is absolutely talked about and that is kind of what the book is. Yeah. It’s never ideal. And during the holidays, it can be particularly trying but you know, some of the other tips I share Malia’s, like have a pregame plan. So you know if I we call it to rival we call it the doable drink plan around here. Oh, I love it. I love it. I have gotten up into Google and listen to your podcasts exactly I’ve ever been to listen. Yeah. So if I go to a restaurant, I’ll know what my personal limit is, which is to, you know, five ounce glasses of wine if we’re going out over a couple hours. And then immediately, I’m going to ask for some chamomile tea, so that, you know, if the meal is still going on, or whatever, I’ve got something I’m sipping on, I’m not, you know, sitting there toilet, twiddling my thumbs or whatever, you know, I’ve got a plan, you know, at home, you know, if I’m having a dinner party, I’m alternating a glass of wine with a glass of water. So there’s all kinds of little techniques or I’m mixing into the repertoire low and no alcohol wine. So I still, because sometimes it’s just the act of drinking, sipping, you know, it’s why we love tea and coffee. And yeah, so sometimes it’s just that it’s not that you actually are craving the alcohol itself that you want to get smashed. But you know, you’re being social, everybody’s still raising and lowering glasses. So get something else in your glass. And I think you’d be surprised about at how effective that can be. 201 100% Hey, everyone, just a quick break to talk with you about sunny side. Now you’ve heard me mentioned Sunny Side many times before, you’ve heard me talk with Nick and E and the founders of sunny side. And I just want to share with you why I am so passionate about this company. They are way more than just a drink tracking app. They are really about helping people create a mindful relationship with alcohol and they stand for a life that is about having more, not less, right. There are more rested mornings more days. When you’re feeling your absolute best when you have more energy and positivity. Sunnyside is not there to tell you to never go out to never drink, but they are there to help you enjoy your life and to wake up and be ready to be your shining best. It is not an all or nothing approach. It is friendly. It is approachable, and it is absolutely judgment free. They want to be a solution that fits into your unique lifestyle. And I think that’s exactly what they’ve created. You can register for a free 15 day trial. Go to www.sunnyside.co/minimalist to get started. That’s www.sunnyside.co/minimalist to try Sunnyside today I got to ask because people will want to know one of the challenges that people complain about is non alcoholic wines. They really feel like there’s no good ones out there. Do you have any recommendations for low alcohol no alcohol wines while I have a wine critic books? Sure. So when it comes to low alcohol, you want to look for cool climates, like Germany and Riesling. That’s a great that’s harvested early Germany has a very cool climate. So those Rieslings are going to be maybe 8% Alcohol versus you can get some Australian Shiraz has that come in at 14 and 15% almost doubled in the amount of alcohol. So look for cool climates there even cool pockets like in California, Carneros Sonoma, and so on, you’re gonna find on average that the alcohol levels are lower. When it comes to no alcohol. There’s a whole new world out there. It’s not those sorry, cooking wines, those neutered cooking wines of your and even a lot of wineries are now making no alcohol wines. So they make them in the process, same process and care that they would make their alcohol wines based wines. But then, you know, they remove the alcohol. So they’re well made. They’re tasty. There are so many websites specializing in this. I think what I would love to do for this Molly is send you some wines for the show notes so that those listener, yeah, can get the links directly to say five or six of my favorite no alcohol wines. Rather than trying to run them off by heart. That’s perfect. No, that’s excellent. I would love that. We will put that in there. And I so tell me on how do you feel about this? Because some people some people ask me about these questions all the time. So other tricks that people use is to of course, like make a spritzer right? So that’s a way of reducing alcohol or you know, making a glass of wine or lower by Alcohol Alcohol by volume. Also sometimes in for me as sometimes I drink beer more than wine typically a lot of times but I will split a non alcoholic beer with a with a an IPA and it’s a great idea. Yeah, right. So with a glass of wine, pour some non alcoholic wine in and you know splashing The real stuff and you’re already immediately lowering the alcohol by volume. And you could still potentially get the taste of that full bodied wine that you might like. Absolutely. And I do something in restaurants even that would horrify wine snobs. Especially in the summer, I will put like, two or three ice cubes in a refreshing white wine. And that’s going to water it down to now, I’m not doing it in fancy, you know, expensive wines. But you know, if I’ve just got an everyday Sauvignon Blanc, or whatever it is, it cools down the the wine itself, but it’s so marvelous, because it really, you know, doesn’t change the taste substantially. For you know, a moderately priced wine, I don’t think you need to worry about that. And I’m officially giving you and your listeners your license to chill. Don’t worry about those snobs just put an ice cube in it. I think this is really good information for all of you wine snobs to hear from? Would you, Natalie, are you? Would you consider yourself a previous work? Are you still a wine snob, a reformed snob. I was Yeah. Reformed writing stuff, I don’t know if I ever was a wine snob because I’ve always felt like an enthusiastic amateur. But you know, I’ve been in this game for more than 20 years and, you know, being recognized for my writing, with awards and so on. So I am confident of my expertise. But ya know, I think I will try to stay on the side of enthusiastic wine lovers rather than going over to that very, very small field over there of snobs. And here’s what I would like you to hear listeners is that if a an enthusiastic wine critic can find non alcoholic wines that she actually enjoys, I’m pretty sure that you can too. Because that is one of the stories that people love to hang on to. And I and I understand it, some of it is a learning process, right? Because when you I mean when you first are, are trying non alcoholic beverages, whether it’s wine, spirits, or oil or beer, you’ve got to like your you got to let your taste buds adjust to it. Because at first you’re gonna be like, Oh, this doesn’t taste like my right. Right, it’s not going to taste exactly the same. But open your mind and your taste buds. Yeah, because in the last three years, even the explosion in great tasting non alcoholic wines, beers and spirits will astound you and websites dedicated to just those kinds of drinks. And I also really liked the fact that you mentioned chamomile tea, one of the things I heard from, especially from wine drinkers is a really good steeped glass of tea actually has a lot of tannin in it and can be very, you know, very appealing to a wine drinker. But I love the fact that you talked about that. So we have a plan ahead of time we go in, we have to, you know, our two glasses of wine, and we have a plan to have a glass of tea thereafter. It’s like that is a part of the plan too. And that is how we build success. Tell me, this is one of the things that I think I hear in that black and white you can or you can’t conversation about planning, right? People that are sober only insist that having to make a plan ahead of time and having to do this kind of mental planning or mental constraint around alcohol is really fatiguing, and it’s hard and it would just be easier to not drink at all. That’s the mindset like it’s just easier. Like I tell people all the time, it doesn’t it’s not hard at all, I don’t understand that. For me, it’s just just like you wouldn’t go into eat, you know, you wouldn’t go in with a plan of eating three pieces of chocolate cake, you don’t go in having a plan to to over drink. You know, you just have a plan ahead of time. Right? Exactly, exactly. And again for some people that’s what they need that mental rest of no no drinks at all. It’s kind of like people who dress in black every day. There’s nothing right that but I like variety in my life. I like planning I like anticipating you know a beautiful tasting Pinot Noir or whatever it is that gives me joy doesn’t mentally fatigue me. And then the other point to Molly that often comes up is well if you’re measuring and you’re planning that’s a sure sign you’ve got a problem. I don’t think so. It’s like planning your workouts or planning your wardrobe or anything else. It’s not a sure sign it’s just it’s it’s a sure sign that you want control over your life that you want. You know a vacation that doesn’t end in misery because you forgot to plan some plane transfers or whatever. I think that’s false reasoning. And you know, even woven through this book as well is the which theme. A lot of people think they hear the title wine which I’m far and I think this must be about an angry woman who drinks a lot of wine and owns a lot of cats, but it’s not. But there’s lots of humor and a happy ending. Um, but people think, you know, in the olden days, a witch, like I have all this sort of history, but they would throw a woman, poor woman into a lake or a pond. And if she floated, then that was a sure sign she was a witch because witches were said to reject the, the sacrament of baptism. But if she sank, then of course, she was she was not a witch. So you either drowned, or you floated, and were a witch, and then were dragged to the stick to be burned. damned if you do damned if you don’t. And it’s like, can we get out of again, it’s binary thinking black and white, let’s find that middle ground planning is just fine. And one of the things that I talk about here a lot, which is, I think so important, and I hope and I know you will agree with the biggest impact that we can have, and the most benefit that we can do is not drinking, not the the change from drinking seven to 10. drinks a week down to zero. It’s from drinking 30 to 40 drinks per week, down to seven to 10. Yes, that’s where we can impact people. That’s where the real value is, is that it? And it’s those people that are drinking up at that higher level that may not understand how much they have to gain from drinking less. Talk to me a little bit about that in your own life. What benefits have you found from being a mindful drinker being somebody who plans ahead, having not you know, not having episodes of overdrinking? What does that mean for you and your own life, so many benefits. I mean, it’s I’ve mentioned one, and that is slowing down and actually savoring wine. That was that was my starting position. When I first started writing about wine when I first started even just drinking it, I didn’t get into any sort of alcohol to my late 20s. So but and I didn’t like beer whiskey, it was too bitter for me. But I loved wine, because I didn’t find it to be the same way. But the benefits apart from savoring it are not waking up at the witching hour of 3am because it really wreaks havoc on your sleep, we all think you know, a nightcap is a way to fall asleep. Sure it will relax you. And then as your body processes it, it’s going to bring you up out of your sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, it’ll elevate your heart rate, it’ll make you sweat, perhaps a little bit. So better sleep, better sleep, transit, translates directly to better mood, being able to get more done and my productive workday being nicer to the people around me and not snapping. It saves me money, for sure, in terms of not buying so much wine, either for home consumption or restaurants. I mean, there’s just, it really has changed my life in a variety of ways. And when I’m not going to a restaurant and trying to a nice to ties myself right up front, for the social situation at hand, I kind of come down, relax, come back into my body, because you know, I need a drink is all up in my head, I need a drink, I need a drink, relax down into my body and will put my my hand on my heart and say get reconnected here and try to just be with these people for who they are, there’s going to be boring spots in the conversation there’s going to be times maybe you feel a little like you don’t like the converse, you know, there’s going to be all sorts of things, but you don’t need to drown that out with another glass of wine, you can be here really be here with these people. I love that. And I know you talk about that in the book about connection, and how it’s ironic, because so many of us think that we’re drinking in the social settings to enhance connection. But then when we over drink, we are actually taking ourselves further and further away from what we set out to do in the beginning. And that idea, and I talk about that here all the time, too. It’s the it’s, it’s what we believe about alcohol, versus what the reality is in terms of what we are experiencing when we over drink. And we have to be willing to separate that story out in our brains and really challenge those old ideas and those beliefs with a new set of what is actually you know, this is actually what I want to do this is actually and then when you allow yourself to really sink into that and to be there and to focus on the relationships and to remind yourself Well, I I enjoy spending time with this person. It isn’t the alcohol but I have actually, you know or to your point. Sometimes you’re gonna go you know what, this is kind of boring, and that’s okay. I can do boring. I can allow boring to be here for a minute, and I don’t have to drink myself. And you know to not Drink over it, to not feel this and experience it. Exactly. And two more benefits I just thought of, there’s probably even longer, less, but I lost weight. Because you know, the body preferentially will burn alcohol before it will burn fat. So if you’re not putting as much alcohol into your body, it’s going to burn more fat, and just overall calories. But also shame. You know, there were times when I didn’t remember certain parts of an evening with friends. Those are blackouts. That’s when the the alcohol is overwhelming your brain. And to have to get up the next morning and ask my partner, Did I say anything stupid? Did I do anything stupid? It’s just it’s so shameful. It’s so like, I’m ashamed of myself. So no more of that. Yeah. Yeah. That’s I mean, the, the shame aspect is something that we do talk about a lot as well. And, and it’s one of those those consequences of overdrinking that we have to be willing to like, you know, look at it with curiosity and, and compassion with ourselves. Yes, that’s true. But being able to move forward from that and understand that there’s an opportunity here to not have that happen, you know, absolutely, that you have that capacity to do it. Another part, and I just, and I know, we will wrap up, because I could probably talk to you all day, and we’d have a really long conversation. I would love that sometime. So one of the things I get from people all the time to or, you know, critics of this line of thinking that moderation is possible that mindful drinking is possible. They will say to me, Well, yeah, but then once you start drinking people, you’ve got this plan, this doable drink plan. But what happens when you start drinking, and you’re no longer being logical, you’re no longer using that prefrontal cortex. And, you know, it’s just very easy to not stick to a plan. And so again, therefore, if we just don’t ever drink, it’s we don’t have that we don’t have that conundrum of having to stick to a plan when it’s when our when our brains no longer logical, hmm, tell me your thoughts on that? Well, certainly, alcohol does lower your inhibitions, right, and some of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever said, We’re after three or four glasses of wine. You know, I think that still that game plan, knowing you still have it in mind, because you made it before you had your first sip, that’s still going to help even when your inhibitions are lowered, you can remember I made this plan why, because of all those reasons, all those benefits, future net is going to thank me when she gets up tomorrow, I want to arrive tomorrow morning, in a state where I can get up and write as opposed to get up and go off and need an Advil. So I think that can help. And then, you know, I have a very good and loving partner, even I did go through divorce, but I met a wonderful man. And he is my wing man in every sense. So it’s not that he’s, you know, policing, my alcohol. He’s very gentle and non judgmental. In fact, he’s amazing, because I used to do something what I, which I call pre drinking, which is a misnomer. But I would have a glass of wine before we went to a restaurant, just so that, you know, I could be loosened up more than everybody else. And then cumulatively, the amount I was drinking was just got to be too much quicker than anybody else. And he told me, please see if you can not do that. So that No, he wasn’t saying it in a judgmental shaming way. He was saying, I want to be on the same plane as you, I want to have the same experience, I think he would have almost been willing to have a glass of wine with me before we went out. But then we both realized we’re just both going to have way too much wine. So I love him for that. So if you have someone in your life, who can be a support person, who can just gently put their hand on your thigh or whatever, or just a signal or anything. I think that sort of community support in whatever form it might take. Can also be helpful, especially after class one or two. Yeah, yeah. And the thing of it is, and I say this to people all the time, yes, it may be harder. It’s certainly not impossible. Every single person I’ve ever spoken to. I’ve said, Has there ever been a time when you’ve had two glasses or two beers or two anything? And stopped? And they’ll say, oh, yeah, of course, I’ve had that. You know that that’s happened. So if it has happened, then we know it can happen, then it is possible. There’s no you know, and this, again, is just the the idea that we cannot incorporate alcohol into our lives in a mindful way, is something that I am going to keep working to make sure that people hear it is possible. You can do this. And you should want to do it in a way that aligns with long term health goals. really have science backed behind them? Because there is true science. Ladies, there is ample reason to, to drink less in your life. I mean, that is true. Ladies and gentlemen 100% There’s, there’s an abundance of reasons. Yeah. And you know, I also I share very openly in this in wine which on fire. I have been and still am on Zoloft, which is an antidepressant. And another benefit is that Alcohol is a depressant. So it will dampen and decrease what that drug is trying to do for you. Right? Right. And it’s dangerous anyway to mix drugs and alcohol, especially in moderately everyone needs to go talk to their doctor. This is not medical advice. But I didn’t realize that at first, that wine, you know, I’m taking these antidepressants. Why do I still feel down? Right? Exactly what’s wrong with this? I need no prescription. But you know, so I found as I backed off the alcohol, my mood lifted exponentially, because not only was I not having this depressant in alcohol, but it was allowing the drug to do what it’s supposed to do the medicine, I should say. And then yet one more benefit, because I’ll just throw one more in you get your nights back. So after two glasses of wine, I’m not asleep on the sofa. I get my night back. I used to say I have no time to read it. By the time I go to bed. I’m too tired to read well, no, it wasn’t you’re too tired. Your brain was marinated. And so you fell asleep. And then that’s why you couldn’t read. So being honest about that. But getting my nights back was another huge benefit. Yeah. Oh, I agree. I agree with all of it. I know part of your your work in terms of bringing this book to life as you’ve actually been doing some writers workshops and helping people who want to write a book. I always say I wrote a book to you can’t write a book. If you’re over drinking at night, it does that that’s never ever gonna happen. I mean, I don’t know about you, but at least it would have never happened for me. It’s true. And it’s a false misconception that some of the greatest writers who have been alcoholics, it was the alcohol that was helping them it was not, you know, they perhaps could have been more productive or whatever. But that’s just a romantic illusion. It really does not help the creativity muse. Natalie MacLean, let’s tell people where they can pick up wine which on fire? Sure, so you can get it wherever books are sold. So every online retailer, you know, from Amazon, to Barnes and Noble to all. Also, please support your local independent bookstores. Whether they have it in stock or not, they can always order it for you online. I will be soon recording the audio version of this book. So it’ll be out next year. But it’s available now as paperback or ebook. And if you need any information or links to all those retailers, it’s on my website, wine, which on feiyr.com will take you right to where all the retailers are. Also, I have lots of bonuses for those who do buy the book from signed bookplates to online wine tastings do all kinds of goodies. Yeah, yeah, we will link that in the show notes, folks, of course. And again, and Natalie is going to also provide us with some non alcoholic wine options that will be in the show notes as well. Sure. And McLean, thank you so very much for being here today. I really appreciate it. This is just a fantastic conversation. I hope we can talk again, because I think we probably could cover even more. And I appreciate you taking the time. Molly, thank you for your interest. I’m so glad you reached out. You’re doing a really important service here with the message that’s on this podcast. I think there’s not enough of this conversation happening. So thank you for including me in it and you’ve asked some terrific questions. And definitely we need to carry on a much longer conversation over one glass of wine, maybe two. That’s it. I love it. I love it. All right. All right. Cheers. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. Take something you learned from this episode and put it into action this week. Changing your drinking habits and creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol is 100% possible. You can stop worrying Stop feeling guilty about over drinking and become someone who desires alcohol less harm join me in making peace with alcohol. It’s my six month online course and group coaching program designed to help you build sustainable change. Give me six months and I’ll help you create peace.