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The Heidi B Show

Nov 26, 2021

Mastering Wine with Anne McHale

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode: 

1. Be inspired by Anne’s journey to reach the pinnacle of mastery in wine.   

2. Hear how she found her passion for wine by breaking away from the career counselor’s suggestions.   

3. Discover new ways to experience and understand wine with Anne’s expert advice. 


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Visit Anne’s  website ┃Instagram ┃Twitter  

Check out the Vivino wine app.   

Here are the Low-No alcohol brands Anne mentioned: Seedlip and Noughty  

Episode Highlights 

Parlez-vous Français?  

Anne grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland in a household that appreciated wine. 

After she received her Language degree at University, she was certain she wanted to do anything but what the career office suggested. 

She moved to London and applied to the jobs that needed French language skills.  Her first job happened to be at a wine agency that imported French wine.   

 For the Love of Wine 

Though Anne’s father shared his love of wine with her when she was young it was as an adult that she found her own fascination in wine. 

She enjoyed the industry, people, and lifestyle that shared a love of good living, food, drinking, and camaraderie.   

Anne appreciated the multidisciplinary aspect of wine.  It involves geography, biology, chemistry, history, language, culture, and philosophy.  Wine can often tell a story about a time, place, and family.  It can be an intellectual and sometimes spiritual experience.   

Becoming a Master 

Her job started her with her first WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) wine course and she continued studying wine for the next 10 years until she became a wine master.   

Wine master is the highest distinction of professional wine knowledge.  She is one of only 416 wine masters in the world, of which 149 wine masters are women. 

The Master of Wine study programme, as well as the advanced qualifications leading to it, is rigorous and demanding including research papers, capstone paper, and several written exams. 

The Institute of Masters of Wine, of which Anne is a member, has a Diversity Committee and, in recent years, wine masters are from all over the world and from all walks of life.   

The Life of a Wine Master 

When consulting with restaurants on their drink menu and pairings, Anne may taste 80-90 wines in a day.  At the end of the day, although she spits out the wine, it is quite exhausting for the palette. 

Anne gets to taste the amazing foods and desserts the chefs create to create the perfect drink pairing. 

One of her strangest wine pairing experiences was in Australia where she paired a kangaroo dish with Shiraz. 

Next month, Anne is exploring the indigenouse Greek grapes of Santorini to pair with the local foods.   

Wine Education from a Master 

A basic and broad rule for pairing wine is to match the richness of a wine with the richness of the food.  A light salad may be paired with a light and crisp white or a lighter crisp red.  Rich and creamy food like cheese or rich meats may be paired with a wine with a rich body. 

Wine is geography.  The warmer the climate in which the grapes grow, the higher the alcohol, fuller the body, and lower the acidity of the wine.  The Chablis wine is produced in the cooler climates of Northern France.  The grape is actually a Chardonnay grape but because it’s grown in the cooler region, it’s quite crisp with lots of acidity and not too much body or alcohol. A Merlot grape grown in the warmer climate of Napa is going to be rich and full-bodied. 

In Anne’s cache of wine, the greater majority of her few hundreds of bottles are from France.  Though the rest of her collection are from all over the world. 

Her least favorite wines are from a small variety in South Africa called Pinotage.  She personally does not prefer the smokiness that compares to a barbeque.   

There is a No-Low alcohol-free movement in the UK and has several respectable brands.  Though spirits, beers, and sparkling wine have made a lot of progress in quality, still wine faces the challenge of achieving the balance and texture that comes from alcohol.  There is a lot of research focussed on making  no-low alcohol options that would be desirable to drink. 

More Tips from a Wine Master 

Shop at a local wine merchant and develop a relationship with them.  The merchants have gone to great lengths to source their wine and know about each bottle on the shelf.   

Use wine apps like Vivino

Check labels or wine descriptions to learn the words and language that are used to describe wines that you already enjoy.  Use them to communicate to sommeliers and merchants to find similar types so you can explore something different.   

About Anne 

Anne is based in London where she is a wine communicator, consultant, and educator.  In 2016, she founded her consultancy and education business where her massive experience and expertise led her to craft her direction in life around wine and her passions. She designs wine lists and works as an ambassador for brands and wine regions.  She offers wine education at all levels from her signature program called Diploma Therapy for WSET diploma students to wine series on Instagram.  She is involved with the Institute of Masters of Wine and many other notable wine organizations. 

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To pursuing our passions and building our businesses, 

Heidi B