‘You Can Have Ice in Your Wine’: Prepping for Rosé Season With Martha Stewart
Photo: Casey Levy
Meeting Martha Stewart is exactly what you think meeting Martha
Stewart will be like. She talks just like she talks on
television, she looks just like she looks on television, she
wears pieces from her QVC line just like she does on television
(which does very well when she goes on during
inclement weather and everyone is stuck at home, in case
you were wondering). One wishes one could comment on what she
smells like, but if you’re someone who was afraid to get too
close to her lest you anger her or the mirage of Martha Stewart
disappear in a puff of smoke, one can’t comment on that. (After
the event, Jezebel’s Julianne Escobedo Shepherd asked Clover
what Martha smelled like and she responded, “like warmth.”)
Most importantly, Martha Stewart knows as much as she seems to
know. Those who have followed her are aware that she’s a
proverbial endless fountain of information on all aspects of
better living, and one of her latest shared knowledge bases is
wine. If before you could eat like Martha and dress like Martha
and make a home look as good as Martha’s, now you can drink
like Martha drinks, without leaving the comfort of your
home, and for less than $30 a bottle. We learned about her
Martha Stewart Wine Co. in one of the most unremarkable,
while also being hideously ugly, rooms probably on the planet,
in the Jacob Javits Center in New York City last week, as
Martha was promoting the company at the
VinExpo. We wanted to talk to her about rosé, and we did,
as we drank some quite honestly great 2016
Bernard Magrez Côtes de Provence Rosé ($22.99) and she
talked and watched us drink it, because she had already been
tasting and it was the middle of a Monday. We pick up there.
Here is doing rosé season right, with Martha Stewart.
CLOVER HOPE AND KATE DRIES: It’s
MARTHA STEWART: Well, we have eight different
rosés on our website now at the Martha Stewart Wine Company. We
provide lots of information about the various wines that we
offer, we provide recipe cards, we provide serving
instructions, pairing instructions. But not so complicated, I’m
trying very hard not to make it complicated for the customer,
because we have too many other complicated things we have to
pay attention to. [Chuckles] So we do the hard work,
we find the really nice affordable wines and then we provide
those to our customers. And it’s going well, it’s going really
well. They love it.
KATE: You’re such a big brand, you have your name on a
lot of things. What was your thought process about deciding to
move into wine, and in this way?
MARTHA: Well, we’ve written 90 books, most of
those focusing on food. Wine is a sort of inherent part of a
meal nowadays, and it was just a very natural transition to go
from the food world into the spirits world. We’re all so busy,
and I really feel like going into a wine store and trying to
remember to have wine at home, just have it, for many people is
just too complicated. This way, it’s sent to you and you can
trust what we’re choosing. They’re very well-chosen wines. And
they’re very affordable. I’m sometimes shocked, my
friends are shocked, they say, oh I just ordered—one of my
friends ordered something like 20 cases of wine, because she
wanted to have a wine cellar. And she is so happy. Because her
husband died a few years ago, she was married to Marvin
“Oh yeah, I’m totally a
year-round person on rosé. And it’s appealing to more and more
MARTHA: And he used to take care of all the
wines, and she doesn’t have him anymore. But she drinks wine.
And so now she feels, oh if Martha says it’s okay, it’s okay!
So that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to solve the
everyday problems, and it absolutely, that kind of help, goes
with wine, as well as it goes with choosing the right bed
linens, the right kitchen equipment, all of that. So it fits
CLOVER: What’s your philosophy specifically on rosé
season? Do you feel like it’s year-round?
MARTHA: Oh yeah, I’m totally a year-round
person on rosé. And it’s appealing to more and more people. I
think a lot of people didn’t even know about it for a long time
because the rosé that was offered was either Domaine Ott, which
was like, $160 a bottle, or Mondelli, which is a little darker
in color and a little more mysterious in a way, and probably a
little less expensive but still expensive. And now you can buy
a really good rosé for somewhere around $15, $18, and enjoy it
icy cold any time of year.
CLOVER: If I’m choosing dark and light, what do I need
to consider as far as choosing?
MARTHA: Well they’re different mixes, and
depending on where the rosé comes from, there’s different
regions where rosé is made. We just tasted one that was made
with—what were the two, the one upstairs?
THOMAS JOSEPH (Director of Food Development at Martha
Stewart Living): The one upstairs was a merlot and a
MARTHA: Yeah, the merlot and cab blend for a
rosé, which is kind of an odd combination. And this is a
grenache and a—
THOMAS JOSEPH: Cinsault.
MARTHA: Oh it is, okay. And that’s so
delicious and light and crispy and flavorful and it goes with
pretty much anything you’d want to eat it with.
I just learned something new. See that nice bottle over there?
[Martha points to a large bottle of yellow-colored white
You would never put
sauternes on ice before, and now they’re serving sauternes on
CLOVER: That’s huge.
MARTHA: That’s sauternes. I said, “I love
sauternes.” And he said, “We’re serving it now over ice.” You
would never put sauternes on ice before, and now
they’re serving sauternes on ice, and serving it with cheeses,
especially blue cheeses, and I just tasted it with the cheese,
it was so good, I can’t wait to have a party with that
one. But we’re going to have sauternes in our company too,
we’re definitely adding it. Because that’s something new and
different. And I think winemakers are looking for ways to
popularize the use of wine in different ways.
KATE: Wine on ice is something I like to do sometimes
and then feel really guilty about, because you’re not supposed
MARTHA: Don’t feel guilty! I often put ice in
my rosé. Just to, well first of all, keep it really cold on a
KATE: Yeah I like it cold, too.
MARTHA: But also it makes it for me, I don’t
drink a lot. So when I drink I like to nurse a glass for
awhile. But it prolongs it for awhile, it’s good. You don’t
have to feel guilty, if they’re putting ice in sauternes and
ice in cognac, forget it! You can have ice in your wine.
[Laughs] But again, this is not the rarest of the rare
so you can do that and still feel fine and drink more.
I’ve had a very good palate
for many years, many years.
CLOVER: Which is great. How do you make your
selections? Do you have a checklist?
MARTHA: Oh we know what we want to have
basically of the span we want to have, from the darker stronger
reds to the lightest whites and rosés. And Thomas Joseph and I
are sent a variety of wines on a weekly basis, by Zac [Brandenberg],
who runs the distribution of the wine company. And Zac has his
tentacles all over the world and to the best makers and we are
sent these—how many on average are we tasting a week now?
THOMAS JOSEPH: Dozens.
MARTHA: Dozens a week, and one week
[whispers] we didn’t choose any. And I don’t know if
it was because it was really hot when the wines were being
delivered and maybe something happened to them, we never got to
the bottom of that, but we didn’t like any of them. And, so
what? The next week, we chose three that we liked. And Thomas
and I have agreed pretty much 100 percent on the wines. And so
we both have areally good palate and we have good taste, and
our boss over here, Zac, does not argue with us too much.
CLOVER: Has your taste developed or changed over
MARTHA: Oh I’ve had a very good palate for
many years, many years. I used to teach in the Napa Valley, and
I was a friend of
Mr. Mondavi’s, the senior Mr. Mondavi [Ed.
Note. He founded the aptly named Robert Mondavi
Winery]. And he would invite me to wine tastings because I
always agreed with him, and in blind tastings, we would always
come to the same conclusions. So he thought I had a good
palate. He was the one who told me I had a good palate, and I
got more confidence after that about knowing what to taste.
ClOVER: And what do you think people should look for
when they’re tasting?
MARTHA: Well, is it pleasant? Do you want to
have another sip? Develop a liking for specific kinds of tastes
when you take a sip. It’s developmental, I think. It’s also the
wine itself. You can get a pretty horrible wine and know right
away that it’s not what you want to drink. Just the scent of a
wine; there are some wines that smell so bad you don’t even
know until you stick your nose in the glass and take a whiff
that it smells bad. But they do, some of them really are bad.
And I think people are sipping and not paying attention a lot
of times. But you can develop a very nice appreciation for wine
if you sip it correctly.
CLOVER: I immediately knew I liked this one.
MARTHA: Well, good! That’s a good start. And
you could put ice in and I wouldn’t mind.
KATE: I wanted to ask you, slightly changing course:
you started doing
Facebook Lives a couple years ago now, and we wrote about
it very early on—
KATE: Because I thought, I love these, these are so
fun. For you, you’ve been doing television for so long, it must
have felt really natural, but I’d love to hear a little bit
about that evolution.
MARTHA: Oh it was like liberation!
MARTHA: Oh it was liberating to do
Facebook Lives. It still is. Although we’ve gotten a little bit
more complicated because we wanted to make sure the quality is
exactly right. But a handheld iPhone and no fancy lighting and
you can just ad-lib, you don’t have to have a teleprompter, and
really, you can do a half-hour TV show with five people, where
it used to take a hundred people to do a half-hour TV show. And
the production value is not the value that I had on my Martha
show, but it’s very good and it’s very well liked and very well
watched. We’re getting numbers that are sometimes the same
numbers we got for the TV show.
KATE: And you’re also getting that immediate feedback
from the audience, right?
MARTHA: Oh yes, you can answer questions
immediately and get comments instantaneously and that’s what’s
exciting about it. Although there are too many Facebook Lives
MARTHA: I mean you can’t keep watching
Facebook Lives all day long. I mean you could if you want to.
CLOVER: I could watch yours all day long.
KATE: I totally could too, they’re very
MARTHA: You know what I mean, though; there’s
so many things to watch, so many things vying for our eyeballs.
But it’s still fun to do, I like it.
CLOVER: I learned
about mayo on grilled cheese from yours.
MARTHA: Right, just slather your mayo on for
that nice crispy crust.
CLOVER: Another rosé question: I’ve read a lot about
barbecue and rosé. What’s good for a summer meal?
MARTHA: Well, I like it with cold soup; I like
it with salads especially because it’s so hard to find a wine
that pairs well with salads. This is very good with it. And
it’s also good through the whole meal, I think, even though
it’s a dessert.
CLOVER: Can you tell us a story about a time you had a
blast drinking wine—or a bad experience?
MARTHA: I don’t think I’ve had too many bad
experiences drinking good wine. Wine is always part of the
meal. I think it’s more on vacations that we enjoy our wines.
Like we went on safari last year; I took my grandchild to
Botswana. And we had wine at lunch, and then a siesta, then we
go out for more safari, and then we had wine at dinner, and
then you sleep really well. Don’t hear the large animals, the
water buffalos and stuff coming up to our huts. But we had a
great time. Those are the nice memories, when you can just
finish off a bottle of wine and feel very nice without being
inebriated. Just happy.
KATE: Especially surrounded by wild animals, that
sounds pretty fun.
MARTHA: Oh it was the elephants, they came up
to the house. They could have easily knocked over the house!
But they didn’t. They were just rustling around.
We met Martha Stewart