The wine buff: Masterful mums
There was a time when having a family and a career was considered to be 'having it all'. Now, there's more of a realisation that the job spec for high-flying career woman mum is not one, but two jobs, and a lot of juggling is required to make it work.
When it comes to wine, the very top qualification is a Master of Wine, and there are just 384 MWs (as they are known) in the world; and of those, 131 are female. I have no idea how many of them are mothers, but the four female MWs in Ireland are all mums. With four young boys, Harriet Tindal is the most recent member of this very exclusive club, joining Lynne Coyle of O'Briens Wine, Barbara Boyle of Wine Mason, and Jane Boyce of James Nicholson Wine in Belfast.
With three stages to complete over a number of years, the dropout rate is high and the pass rate is notoriously low. For her research, Harriet looked at the area of women in wine in Australia, and in particular, the obstacles they face which prevent them from moving up the ranks in the industry. "It's actually more to do with family and commitment to family that makes it more difficult for women to succeed as wine makers," she says. "I started off slightly on the feminist, 'men are bad' side of things and then realised that it's not men, it's the physical attributes of a woman, having to have a baby and being tied down by children and family commitments that seemed to be the biggest problem. It was an eye opener for me."
Added to that, Harriet found that women typically strive for what is known as 'exceptional status' and because of that, they go for more high-profile roles with greater visibility. However, as the wine industry in Australia is already saturated with top tier graduates in wine studies - about 100 from Adelaide University each year - this compounds the problem.
Getting up at 5am to study before dropping the children to school, coming home to practice blind tasting, and then starting a day's work was all part of the schedule that Harriet needed to stick to in order to reach 'exceptional status', but a very understanding husband and a supportive work environment made it possible. "I'm really lucky to work for a family business," says Harriet, who, along with her brother William, works in Tindal Wine Merchants.
"My father has given me a long leash to have children and do a Master of Wine, knowing that I'll come back and be loyal forever and work really hard. I've had two children while I've been working in the company and it was hard."
Also celebrating an outstanding achievement is 'Ireland's Best Sommelier', Julie Dupouy, who represented the country at the recent 'World's Best Sommelier' competition in Antwerp and was rated eighth in the world. So to all the wonderful women in wine, and in Ireland, cheers, and happy Mother's Day.
Spanish Wine Week starts on April 8 and Lynne Coyle MW will be hosting a five-course dinner matched by five wines from Spanish female winemakers at Wilde at The Westbury on April 10. If you're a fan of bubbly, I'll be hosting a tasting of five amazing cavas in Urchin at Cliff Townhouse on April 11 and there will be plates of charcuterie, cheeses and olives. I'd love to meet you! Details at spanishwineweek.ie
Bouchard Père et Fils, Meursault 'Les Clous' 2015
€55 approx, 13pc, from Searsons, Dublin; Bradley's Off Licence, and 1601 Off Licence, Cork; and online nationwide from searsons.com
Harriet Tindal's pick for Mother's Day is a "pared back, mineral driven Meursault which has a deliciously textural oatmeal and apple core. Nutty on the finish."
M de Minuty Rosé 2018
€20-€23, 12.5pc, from Morton's, On The Grapevine, Jus de Vine, all Dublin; and Avoca Dunboyne
A delicately coloured Provencal rosé, this blend of Grenache and Cinsault smells of summer flowers and has fresh, crunchy red fruit, a touch of orange peel and a skein of minerality on the palate.
Castellore Organico Organic Sparkling Rosé
€13.49, 11.5pc, from Aldi
With a whisper of pink rose on the nose, this organic, vegan-friendly sparkling rosé is soft and ripe with flavours of raspberry, strawberry and redcurrant flavours, touched with a hint of spice.