Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book and I'm amazed by her vulnerability. I'm impressed with how she works her wine knowledge into her writing without sounding like a wine snob. You'll be engaged in her story AND learn more about wine at the same time!

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This memoir will resonate with anyone who has faced discrimination. Even for a 6’3” tall blonde male like moi, I grew up facing huge adversity. I had the benefit of my physical ‘credentials’ giving me more of the benefit of the doubt, but really after I was able to give up my coke-bottle bottom glasses for contact lenses —- the way people acknowledged and received me after that has never left me.

Her story of overcoming adversity is not just of males vs females, it is rather dominants trying to squash those less dominant. Either way I can attest that this is a book well worth reading.

Natalie has a relaxed, self-assuming voice to her commentary. She's already an accomplished writer and this fits her easy-to-read, but informative, style.

She gets full marks for exposing so much about her feelings, her family and her life. Natalie speaks partially as the subordinate, but make no mistake, this woman could lead any of us into battle.

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This is one of my favorite memoirs of all time, and I feel honored to have been a beta reader for the manuscript of this book. I had actually heard of Natalie MacLean before reading her book, but had never put together that she is not only a well-known wine critic, but also a super taster I had previously read about. A super taster is someone who has more taste buds than most people and can pick up on subtle nuances in flavor that most people can’t. In Ms. MacLean’s case, she is gifted in articulating those nuances of flavor in a unique and original way.

The author was happily married for many years until things fell apart and she ended up divorced. The way she often felt with her husband resonated with me. Although she didn’t come right out and say it, she was in an emotionally abusive marriage. I like the way she wrote about that time in her life. It was very meaningful to me.

Miraculously, she met a wonderful man pretty soon after her divorce, and he sounds completely amazing. Ms. MacLean subsequently threw herself even more into her job of wine taster and critic. She wrote wine reviews on her blog site, among other things. Not being familiar with how the wine industry works, I learned a lot about the vineyards, wine companies and those who run them, and the wine rating industry.

As her story unfolds, the author shares how being a female in the male-dominated wine industry can be intimidating. Many things surrounding wine tasting, rating, and reviewing are like a boy’s club. Situations ranging from sexual innuendos, put downs, and online bullying are included in her story.

What I loved most about this book is MacLean’s style of writing. She is incredibly funny and articulate. Her tone was not whiny or victim-like. She wove her story in a thoughtful and matter-of-fact way, telling exactly what happened and her feelings about it at the time. Overall, it is balanced and fair.

My hat is off to her for enduring a season in which she was relentlessly bullied by the men in her field for a copyright infringement she did not at first fully comprehend the nature of. Even after she apologized and corrected her error, she continued to be harassed online, and some of the industry leaders came out and said cruel and inappropriate things about her.

I applaud Ms. MacLean for exposing the profound sexism in the wine industry and for calling out those who took aim at her and what they had said. Facing her male colleagues and standing up to them was not unlike the women who stood up to Harvey Weinstein and exposing the dominating influence he had in the movie industry. Not only did she stand up to them, but ultimately, she didn’t let them stop her from doing all the things she does so well.

Ironically, she is now even more influential in wine circles instead of less so. She has been a writer for wine columns and a regular guest on morning TV shows. She teaches an online wine-pairing class and has a wine membership club. Her wine blog is thriving. She has even written another book prior to this one.

Overall, Natalie MacLean’s upbeat personality and humorous reflections while recalling an emotionally trying time in her life make you feel like she is someone you would want to be friends with. I’m proud of her for using her voice and her platform to speak out against sexism, men minimizing professional women, and especially the pervasive exclusion of women in the wine industry. I believe she will lead the way in changing things for the better. With this book, she already has.

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I loved it. This book will appeal to many different people; those who need to know they aren’t the only ones feeling the ‘perhaps I drink too much’, those that need reassurance that the feelings they have recovering from a divorce are the norm, those that face trolls daily, and those that are on a journey to uncover their self-worth and rediscover who they truly are.

I just wanted to say she is the most honest and transparent person I've read in a long time. I can hear her voice sharing this, and it is authentic.

Thank you! Cheers to life’s lessons!

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I read this book in one day and couldn’t put it down! (Well, couldn’t bear to step away from my laptop unless I had to pee LOL). As a divorced woman who also survived losing herself and questioning everything, join me in singing badly to Adele's song "I drink wine" and pass the electrolytes for tomorrow.

I knew that the wine industry, like most industries, are male dominated and controlled – I’ll be seeking out and drinking Women-Owned-Operated wine specifically. Everybody needs a WOO girl!

Five out of five stars for sure, you are a badass and I’m happy to be part of the witchy wine reading club!

5 stars! 100/100

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I wasn't sure what to expect when I was offered the chance to read an advance copy of Wine Witch on Fire, but wow, it was a magical journey I won’t soon forget. This memoir spoke to me on every level, both personally and professionally. It was the perfect balance of vulnerability and strength. So brave to put it all out there.

My first thought was that if you liked Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America's Youngest Sommelier you should read it. It’s one of my favorite books and they both portray the type of honesty and bravery that everyone needs more of. Wine lovers and memoir fans will appreciate it, but Wine Witch will also benefit anyone looking for redemption or forgiveness. It speaks to the bullies and the bullied. And it should be read by anyone who feels marginalized, women starting their careers, and women afraid to go for what they want. Every man should read it.

It's fast-moving, gripping, and eye-opening. I was aware of the harsh social media landscape but not the rampant sexism and misogyny in the wine industry. I’m glad the author is helping to bring awareness and hopefully promote change. I now mentor and have mentored many girls/women in their careers and Wine Witch on Fire makes me want to do more.

My favorite parts of the book are the stories, the dialogue (which brings the reader right along with her), and the vulnerability. She nailed them all. And best of all she layered all of these with her wonderful sense of humor. Hilarious. I absolutely love that she made me laugh and then she educated me. Perfection.

I've read countless books and already this is one of my favorites. I'm in awe. I would give it 10 out of 5 stars. Seriously. It’s that good.

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Open that special bottle you've been saving, sit back, and devour Natalie's book. Her writing style is wonderfully engaging -- as if she's right there with you, sitting on the sofa across from you, sharing the no-holds barred ups and downs of her life, and the "secrets" of the wine world. Natalie's book will have you feeling all the feelings along with her, and when you're finished, you'll pour another glass to toast to her grit, determination, and her love of all things wine. ~ Lee Romano Sequeira,

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The memoir is very well written. The marital betrayal was written in a way that I felt the emotional and physical betrayal; it was powerful. I could feel the stress of what now, who am I, how is my life going to be?

After reading the memoir I do feel disappointed with the jealousy and pure chauvinism that are part of the wine industry. To recover from that the way Natalie did was incredible, as that was no easy feat. I felt her humiliation and degradation.

Also, I really am aware of the sexism in wine marketing now. That was eye opening to me as I really had not put any thought into it, I literally just accepted it. I did really enjoy the wine suggestions and references. I absolutely loved her witty references throughout the memoir. Loved the cheeky humour, the childhood references, and especially the highland dancing.

Lovely memoir, I loved it.

5/5 for me

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This is a page-turner because I wanted to know what happened next. There were a lot of surprising moments, a lot I felt I learned and at times feeling sad, empathetic, angry and relieved. I could really relate to the anxiety she was feeling, but in this context that was new for me. This memoir is similar to one I read recently – “Broken” by Jenny Lawson.

I learned a LOT about the wine industry and the “behind the scenes” that I wasn’t aware of previously, for better or worse. I would also say that it gave me an inside look into how wine reviewers do their job and what’s expected of them. I'm going to be more intentional in wines I choose to buy or wineries I choose to support. For example, wines made by women, wineries made by women, anything related to wine that will support women in the business. I also learned more about what it's like running an online business. It was an interesting take on what damage can really be done to someone whose business is primarily online.

At first I didn’t really understand the “witch” theme, but as the story was pieced together, it absolutely made sense later in the book. Overall I like the Wine Witch theme in general – it’s certainly original. I’m sure it took a lot of courage to write this, but I think she has a wonderful book here in the making. The more vulnerable we are, the better we all will be, in my opinion.

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I loved this book! It is disturbing because of what the author had to endure but she struggles through it and overcomes the challenges to succeed. The twist and turns kept me wanting to learn more about the author's journey and it is definitely worth the journey.

Who should read this? Lovers of memoirs; wine lovers; women; and intelligent men :-) I know of several people I will recommend it to.

If you liked "Taste: My Life through Food" by Stanley Tucci, then you'll like this one.

This book has many humorous moment and I liked this as humor drives my life. The author used humor well to make her points or to emphasize her points. I like the pairing of her points with wine -- which is a bonus as the reader gets a wine suggestion in the deal. I also liked the underdog getting up off the floor to defeat her antagonists.

This book was entertaining, fun, witty, maddening, and worth the journey. I will strive to be a better husband, friend, and person because of scenes in this memoir.

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Is this a great title or what? I will take Wine Witch over Wine Babe or Wine Mommy any day of the week!

If you think this is only a book about wine, then you would be mistaken - it is about much more than that. This is a honest, hilarious and touching memoir from Natalie Maclean, which at times made me really angry on her behalf. I related to her feelings of being the recipient of mansplaining and patronizing behaviour, and of being underestimated by some men. The online "witch hunt" which she experienced is a timely and important subject, and most readers can probably relate to the experience of being targeted on social media with sexist, angry or inappropriate messages, although not to the degree that the author experienced.

But lest you get the impression that this memoir is a downer or an account from a man-hater, let me correct that immediately. It is actually brimming with good humour and optimism, describing her journey from emotionally-draining and painful life experiences to finding her place in the world again, with a renewed self-confidence, close family ties and the support of a good partner.

I really appreciated the author's honesty in this memoir, and for me that is the valuable piece of reading a well-written memoir - it reminds me to face my own problems and demons with clear eyes and equal honesty. I enjoyed this book immensely and many thanks to Natalie and Dundurn Press for allowing me to read it.

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This is quite a read from beginning to end. Natalie's words are so clear and visual, as she poured her heart into explaining her journey of feelings and anxiety from the top to the trip to the “bottom” and her most difficult and very brave climb up and back to life.

Her humour shows in so many parts of her work. Humour as she said is part of a defence mechanism, but also part of our human condition, especially the Cape Breton type of humour. Like all good Bluenosers do, I check the obits daily and notice a great percentage of the obits comment on the person’s great sense of humour or what a practical sense of humour they had, or dry sense of humour, etc.

I appreciate her sharing about her mental health struggles. It’s still not something that people talk openly about and I am so glad she is doing this being a person in the public eye.

Those who hate, will still hate. Some love to see a person down and love to stomp harder, or judge, etc. Those who are open, positive thinkers will love her even more.

She writes about how important relationships and friendships are, and coming out the other end feeling happiness and joy once again, with the normal craziness that life throws at us. I could feel her self confidence returning again to be the dynamic person that she is and has a right to be.

This book is a reminder that the world is a wonderful place, but also can be cruel. Social media especially is exploding with so many judging others and taking what is said as gospel and many not having open minds.

This memoir will be a wonderful addition to people’s lives. It will help people know they are not alone and that everyone of us has the human condition with all that it entails from birth til the final curtain goes down.

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I don’t drink and have zilch knowledge about wine or any kind of alcohol. So when I started reading this book I was worried about how I'd enjoy it if had lots of wine talk. Cut to today, and I'm so elated that I read Natalie's memoir! Her life story, how she dealt with depression, social media and her divorce was so heartbreaking yet so heartwarming.

It was as if I were living through her. Her raw vulnerability made me teary many times. The way she expressed her pain and heartbreak was gut wrenching. Her experience with divorce and how she got herself together was admirable.

I don't think I can find the right words to explain how much I loved her book. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

As soon as this book is published I will buy a copy for myself and my friends because it deserves to be a bestseller. Can’t wait to hold the physical copy in my hands and read it again. Thankyou Natalie for the ARC!

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When I initially read this book, I was focused on Natalie MacLean's life story. What I didn't expect was for the book to continue to haunt me in the months after I read it. I found that I often compare MacLean's experience to those in my own life and I certainly look at the wine industry through new eyes. MacLean’s experience will make women in many industries stop and wonder how much we simply accept as “normal” when it is truly misogyny. How many times are women not heard? Or worse yet, when are women victimized simply because of our gender.

If I had the opportunity to talk with Ms. MacLean, I would say thank you for sharing your experience. You showed your vulnerability well. I wish all young women would read the part about establishing credit before they begin a relationship! Your self-confidence (even when you did not know you had it) is what allows you to empower other women. You do not see them as a threat. This book will mean so much to so many women. Thank you for sharing your story. (This review was originally published on Goodreads.)

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I loved this book, but what a rollercoaster ride. It starts with life is good, happy family, happy life, but you just know something is up; something is going to happen and before the next chapter, it does.... and it twists, turns.

This is a dig-down-deep memoir, but more than a memoir, it's an account of the wine world, and it’s not romantic. It’s tough, competitive, still very much an old boys game from the top down with even the most knowledgeable, intelligent and recognized women in the industry not even acknowledged.

This industry is not for the faint of heart, which Natalie proves she is not, and tackles the industry with finesse, elegance, and a lot of tension balanced with keeping a sense of normalcy in her life.

Masterfully crafted, this book has something for everyone to enjoy, learn or cellar.

Footnote: Do also download her free companion guide for book clubs and wine groups. It has lots of recommended wines to drink while reading her memoir. It's also entertaining and educational. Just don’t do it all in one night.

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With humor and evocative prose, Natalie MacLean's memoir reads like an evening's chat with a friend. In exploring the issues around the end of her marriage and threats to her professional reputation from an online "mob" MacLean writes with humor and astonishing candor about her life experience, the thorns in her soul, and the work she did through a dark time to heal and claim her personal power. The misogyny she encountered in the wine world will not shock any woman who has worked in any industry, but it will make you re-think where you spend your wine dollars. Weaving stories of wine and witches throughout adds both whimsey and pathos to her personal tale.

Wine Witch is an emotional ride, but MacLean has a stellar command of tension. Just when a break for the sake of my blood pressure seemed necessary, she’d toss in a bon mot or funny story, and I could breathe again.

MacLean is honest about her brokenness, before and after her marriage. She owns her mistakes, personal and professional. But in finding the courage to face her truths, she opened herself to healing and became better able to share more openly with those she loves. The core of all women's stories is the same, only the details vary. One doesn't have to have gone through a divorce to understand the confusion and betrayal. All women have experienced demeaning treatment, if not outright, harassment in the workplace, regardless of her industry. But in telling our stories, and hearing those of other women, we are both challenged and encouraged to keep working for more justice and equality.

Anyone who a) identifies as a woman or b) loves someone who identifies as a woman should read this book. I recommend pairing it with a bold, sassy red, preferably one crafted by a female winemaker. Be prepared to laugh, cry, rage, and cheer. (Just be sure to set down your glass before you do.)

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I was privileged to be beta reader for Natalie MacLean's latest book, Wine Witch on Fire - both an earlier version and the most current iteration of the book. My first impression in the initial version was that she was writing angrily, with the events from 10 years ago still difficult with raw emotions still in play. However, I read the latest version and let me say that she now has an outstanding memoir!

While MacLean is dealing with difficult topics - abandonment, hatred, sexism, addiction, alcoholism, all while questioning her life, life choices and career - she has managed to capture the pain, the humanity and also the hope that comes from seeing a difficult season of life from the "other side".

While this isn't a "wine book", Natalie does a nice job of incorporating facts and stories about wines - there will also be some type of companion, "drink along" - either appendix or online guide for wines that go along with the sections of the book.

Natalie is very transparent and honest about what she went through (divorce, defamation, drinking) and how she felt about it. She pulls no punches and is not afraid of making herself look less than perfect in the midst of difficult situations. I appreciated both her candidness and willingness to share this with readers - and expect that it will be helpful to others who have experienced loss, difficulties in family and professional life, depression and even questioned themselves and their lives.

One of the major themes I saw in this book was that Natalie had to figure out what she was about and capable of achieving. As difficult as the events she describes were, they provided her the opportunity to learn what she was about and capable of. A hard way to learn, certainly, but very valuable and she emerges from this a stronger and more complete person.

Cheers to you, Natalie on another outstanding book!

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++Thank you to author Natalie MacLean for the ARC of her newest book for my thoughts and unbiased review!++

I need to be entertained when I read or why bother. I have to be able to learn something or at least create a tableau in my mind as to what the characters are doing, even with non-fiction. That is what was entertaining in this memoir, that growth to that end. What she goes through on a personal level and then more debilitating, on a professional level, is staggering. The reader wants her to win! To come out a better person, healed and stronger.
This isn't a story so much about wine but the industry behind the industry itself and the toxic place it is. It has yet to step into the 21st century. I think this will open so many eyes as to the genderfication and sexualization in advertising in liquor and wines. I had never noticed that before and I am going to pay more attention to it going forward.
I also liked learning a bit about wine and how it mingles with food and why the body appreciates or rejects certain combinations better than others.
I liked the humor and turns of phrase. Her writing style is easy to read, flows well.
This book will appeal to anyone who likes a true story, happy ending, and has themselves experienced a toxic work environment. She allows us to see her flaws which make her so human and engaging. I liked the personal growth that she goes through; it's a lesson for us all!

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This memoir is an emotional journey. I felt as if I was living her life along with her. It's an emotional rollercoaster the reader should prepare herself to be on. I enjoyed the truthfulness to this story in Natalie opening up for us.

Going through a divorce, unhappiness, and false career accusations can ruin a person. It’s no wonder she had so many moments of desire throughout this journey. However, like the Phoenix, she has come up from the ashes. I found this as a reminder that life is messy and it’s "scar tissue." What we do with it matters.

She should be proud of her accomplishments as this is what defines her — not the negativity that lives in the darkest corners of our internet. I liked her storytelling and cast of characters. I felt like I had a relationship while I read this.

I enjoyed this through many glasses of Shiraz and Cab Sauv — not because it was a long book, but I wanted to enjoy and take as much time and sips as I desired.

Thank you to the author for allowing me to receive an ARC of this publication. This review is entirely my own opinion provided at will.

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Natalie Maclean is a bestselling wine writer from Canada who finds her world going up in flames when her personal and professional lives both hit some major bumps at the exact same time. Maclean takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions as she describes the hard moments and also the successes over the course of the story. She’s honest about her emotions as well as the events that took place by giving you an inside look into how and what she experienced. Her openness is admirable as she dives into very personal and traumatic experiences, such as her struggles with addiction and mental health, difficulties being single and co-parenting a teen, and rebuilding a career after making a small but very public error that almost cost her everything. This storytelling ability allows her to make a true connection with her reader in a way many authors are unable to master. As a result, this book will make you alternate between wanting to give her a hug, scream at her to fight back and cheer her on (sometimes all at the same time). Her witty commentary and wordplay will also keep you on your toes and give the book a lightness to compliment any of the tougher moments.

I definitely learned a lot about the industry, especially from the Canadian side of things. I didn't know about Natalie or really anything about wine writing in Canada before picking up this book, and I definitely feel a lot more knowledgeable now. I might not be ready to recommend any pairings for a future dinner party any time soon, but that's ok, because Natalie has more than enough recommendations on her blog and even in the book! More than that, I learned a lot about the impact of social media on someone’s career and way of life. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to model and teach citing sources, identifying false news and the dangers of social media, but beyond worrying one of my students will get lured by a creep on rocket league or fall into some kind of sexting issue on tik tok or snap chat, I don't often consider how bad things could get for someone's career. Social media is a powerful tool that can be used for good and evil and it is so tough when justice is served in facebook comments rather than through real conversations. What we say can hurt, and when our words are online, the pain can be life changing and irreversible.

This book features stories of sexual assault and harassment, as well as sexism and discrimination. It reminds us that some work places are not safe for women and this is something that needs to change. Some portions may be triggering for some readers, but for the most part, I think that it is a really powerful and important read. I believe that this book will help women who have experienced harassment in any form, are dealing with mental health challenges, or are struggling as they get a divorce and become single parents. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs about strong, successful, independent women who are honest about the hard parts of life. Additionally, anyone with an affinity for witches and/or wine will enjoy the references.

Overall I found this book well written, humorous at times, heartbreaking at others. It is so much more than just a wine industry memoir. I loved it and believe that all women should read it! 5 stars for sure! Thanks so much to the author Natalie, for trusting me with this wonderful secret and for giving me the opportunity to sneak a peek at this amazing memoir. I can't wait to see what others think of it as it makes its wait to book shelves everywhere!

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