Every week Irish Occasions Overseas meets an Irish particular person working in an attention-grabbing job abroad, and as it’s Meals Month we’re heading within the route of libations and victuals. This week, Mary-Therese Blair, who’s initially from Blessington, Co Wicklow however now lives in Auckland, New Zealand talks about life as a wine author or as she prefers to say, “a wine adventuress”.

When did you permit Eire and why?

I left Eire in 2007 for no cause aside from I used to be {looking} for yet one more huge journey. I had lived in London and Sydney, and New Zealand was my subsequent cease earlier than I went to Canada, as a result of I used to be following the working vacation visa deadlines. I arrived in New Zealand and initially settled in Christchurch within the South Island, however it rapidly grew to become obvious to me that Auckland was the place I used to be meant to be. New Zealand has given me the life I’ve at all times dreamed of.

Did you research in Eire?

I studied music administration in Ballyfermot Senior Faculty. Again then I needed to be within the music trade and I labored for just a few years with Ministry Of Sound in Eire and likewise EMI. The music trade wasn’t actually what I dreamed so I received into fundraising for not-for-profits. I began my profession on the unimaginable Barretstown Youngsters’s Charity. I liked that work and continued it right here in New Zealand till I moved into the world of wine a few years in the past.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Meals Month in The Irish Occasions. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

Inform us about your work in New Zealand.

It doesn’t shock me that New Zealand is the place I discovered my ardour for wine. I had at all times been a fan (and an imbiber), however coming to this little nation on the finish of the world and seeing what they will develop right here – it’s outstanding. I do know the remainder of the world principally is aware of us for our Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, however the Chardonnay grown right here is a number of the greatest on this planet. Aromatics to swoon over and Syrah that makes the hair in your neck stand on finish. It appears like something is feasible in wine right here.

Do the Irish slot in properly in New Zealand?

The Irish match properly all over the place, however extra so in New Zealand than wherever else I’ve ever been. The Irish are so beloved right here and I nonetheless get complimented weekly on my accent. The Kiwis are an irreverent, enjoyable, and type individuals who, very like the Irish, if they are saying “come and keep in my home once you go to NZ,”  they imply it. Right here we even have the massive brother/little sister pleasant rivalry with Australia that we take pleasure in at residence with England. The Kiwis are intensely happy with being from Aoteroa (the Maori identify for New Zealand) and love nothing greater than to win at sport. We’ve got an ideal deal in frequent.

What are the prices like in comparison with Eire?

New Zealand, and significantly Auckland, shouldn’t be an inexpensive place to dwell. The typical home worth in Auckland is over one million {dollars}. It is nuts. The factor that I discover essentially the most is the price of meals. We’ve got exceptionally good high quality meals right here and are an agricultural nation, however we pay greater than export costs for produce and I really feel that’s not ok. It shouldn’t be arduous for individuals to eat good nutritious meals.

What made you’re keen on wine?

New Zealand made me love wine. I had my most vital “ah ha” second right here with a bottle of 2008 Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir. It was this second once I lastly understood the true high quality of an excellent wine. The complexity of flavour, the construction and the feel. Gone endlessly have been my days of shopping for $12 greenback wine from the grocery store.

Are you an oenophile?

Sure and no. I really like and recognize wine, however I by no means need to be described as an oenophile as I need to make wine extra accessible and I’m passionately against the alienating winespeak that’s so frequent within the trade. Beginning with phrases like oenophile. Wine is to be loved, it’s enjoyable and social. Let’s cease complicated individuals and speaking all the way down to them, lets?

What wine do you suggest from New Zealand?

Too arduous. It could be inconceivable to choose only one. There’s no query we’re recognized for our Sauvignon Blanc and our Central Otago Pinot Noir, however I might love individuals to know New Zealand is able to a lot extra. Chardonnay from Auckland (Waiheke or Kumeu) is famous. Pinot Noir from Martinborough is past evaluate and aromatics akin to Riesling or Gewurztraminer from just about wherever within the South Island are gorgeous.

What cocktail could be good to strive?

My favorite cocktail has at all times been a margarita in a brief glass, on the rocks with just a bit “ice” (salt) on the rim. Tequila has a nasty fame as so many individuals have used low cost tequila for photographs. Good high quality tequila is outstanding.

Would you come again to work in Eire? What are the alternatives like in your chosen profession?

I lately received married and my husband Kim works within the media. He’s Australian, and we’ve at all times agreed that ought to the best alternative come alongside for both of us abroad that we might take it as a result of nice alternatives are uncommon. Clearly with Eire being positioned proper beside mainland Europe – the place the place trendy winemaking started – there could possibly be numerous alternatives. If the best alternative was again residence I might undoubtedly take it, however I don’t see myself ever shifting completely again residence. For each of us, New Zealand is residence. The perfect state of affairs for me could be to have the chance to write down about New Zealand wine for an Irish publication. That might be a dream come true.

What recommendation would you give to somebody excited about going there?

Come! This nation is so outstanding in so some ways and has a panorama that’s the envy of the world. The panorama in Lord of the Rings shouldn’t be CGI, New Zealand truly seems to be like that. The North Island is filled with stunning sights and tradition, however the South Island is an other-worldly paradise.

Are there every other Irish individuals in your circles?

No, I do know only a few. After I lived in Australia I solely had Irish, Scottish and English pals, and I felt it robbed me of the true cultural expertise of dwelling in that nation. After I arrived in New Zealand I made an effort to get to know extra Kiwis and to not go to Irish bars. Again then I assumed I used to be solely staying a yr, so I didn’t need to make the identical mistake once more. Now I’ve European pals, however the majority of my pals are New Zealanders.

Is there something you miss about dwelling and dealing in Eire?

I don’t miss issues, I miss individuals – household and pals, and the Irish sense of humour. Nowhere else on this planet is like Eire for the craic. Oh and Penneys … gosh I miss Penneys.

You’ve gotten a weblog known as Mermaid Mary, how is that going?

After a few years of merely speaking about it and taking no motion, I did every part in the identical yr. That’s so true to my character, once I resolve – it’s on. I did WSET (Wine and Spirits Schooling Belief) stage one, two and three again to again whereas constructing my weblog website and looking for an outlet who would tackle a whole unknown. On the identical time a brand new present was launching on (the now defunct) speak station known as RadioLIVE. They needed somebody to come back on the present weekly and speak about wine. I pitched myself and received the gig. Nobody was extra stunned than me. When the station shut down a brand new station MagicTalk emerged and I used to be lucky sufficient to turn out to be one in all their contributors. Subsequent yr it will likely be my second anniversary of broadcasting about wine to the nation each week and I’m fairly happy with the truth that I’ve by no means missed per week, even once I was in France and Italy for wine work getting up at 4am to speak wine over the telephone. I’m so grateful to Wendyl Nissen, the unique host who employed me. I now write for Delicacies Journal and likewise New Zealand Home and Backyard, two huge print titles right here, and I’m a daily contributor on a morning TV present.  I replace my weblog with a number of the reveals that I document in addition to occasions and different thrilling issues {happening} within the wine world.

Should you work in an attention-grabbing profession abroad and want to share your expertise with Irish Occasions Overseas, e mail overseas@irishtimes.com with a bit details about you and what you do.

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