The San Francisco Wine School and Women of the Vine & Spirits recently caught up with Karen MacNeil, author of the best -selling book The Wine Bible and creator of the free digital newsletter WineSpeed. Karen received the James Beard “Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year” Award in 2008 and has won nearly every other wine award in the English language. On May 4, San Francisco Wine School will be hosting An Afternoon with Karen MacNeil where she’ll teach her hugely popular class What Makes Great Wine Great? Space is limited. Learn more.
Question: What is the best way for women to get ahead in their careers?
KM: Clearly there is no single or simple way. I always believe that excellence ultimately wins. So give 120% willingly. That’s what all leaders do regardless of gender. I also think women need to “look the part.” Want to be the CEO? It’s important to give that impression starting now. Women in wine often dress “socially” because we’re in restaurants and bars a lot. But in subtle ways, that can hold you back. I know this isn’t exactly fair. But I think it’s a reality we should all consider.
Question: How important do you think formal wine education is to today’s professional? How has that changed in the last decade?
KM: Formal wine education is FANTASTIC. When I started in New York City—then a city of 7 million people—there were no wine schools. Later, Kevin Zraly started the Windows on the World Wine School. But Kevin and I and so many others of our generation are self-taught. We could have progressed faster if there had been formal wine education.
Question: I know it’s impossible to pick just one favorite wine, but what is a favorite varietal & region and why?
KM: Favorite varietal—pinot noir. It’s not only sublime, it’s the ultimate “head trip.” Favorite go-to wine: Champagne. I drink a glass every single night and have for 20 years.
KM: Years ago, chef Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame) served me agnolotti stuffed with butternut squash and drizzled with brown butter, and a Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru. It was devastatingly good.
Meet Karen in person Saturday, May 4th. Get your tickets for an Afternoon with Karen MacNeil at San Francisco Wine School before they’re gone!