1.How many drinks a day do you average?
When I'm cooking and with dinner and maybe after dinner I'll probably have three. No, not really the standard drinks. Bigger than that probably. When I'm judging wine for a show, you might be starting on some big meaty shirazes and it's only 10am. But you spit then.
2. Your show seems to be just you swanning around wineries having lots of long lunches. Is that the best job on TV?
It's hard work. I'm the producer, presenter, caterer, driver, hair and make-up person, the whole caboodle. It's not very glamorous. And I hadn't done TV before so I've made some horrendous mistakes. Like budgeting. I had no clue how much TV was going to cost. And I didn't tell my husband until we had got ourselves too far along to stop.
3. Academics were in the news this week saying that even professional judges can't really tell wines apart - plonk from the good stuff. Do you agree?
That's bull****. You may not always be able to pinpoint who made the wine but trained palates will be able to judge the wine on its merits. That said, the temperature of the wine or the glass it is served in can really change things. But wine tasting is definitely not junk science.
4. What wine would you never recommend anyone buy?
I've tried really hard with this label but the Obikwa wines are just awful. They're cheap but awful. That's not to say there aren't good wines for sale for under $10 - there are. Lindauer is absolutely amazing and sometimes you get a Wolf Blass on sale for under $10. I also really like Bernadino. I've drunk muscatos from all over the world and it stands out.
5. What's the biggest myth about wine?
That shiraz and syrah are two different grapes - they're not. They're the same variety. And also that taking the cork out of a bottle of wine to "breathe" for a couple of hours before drinking will make a difference. It won't, except for that top centimetre of wine. You've got to decant the whole thing.
6. Can you get drunk at wine tastings?
You could if you didn't want to spit. Plenty of people do. You see them get a wobble on. You're consuming 100 or so wines in a day and mostly that just makes you tired.
7. What did your parents teach you about drinking?
My dad was a stock truck driver, he worked very long hours and wasn't home all the time but when he was, he would have a big bottle of Tui and a lump of stinky blue cheese with it. I was allowed the tiniest sip of his beer - kids seem to like beer. It's the yeastiness of it I think, like Marmite. And I was allowed a tiny sip of Marque Vue at Christmas or weddings. My parents weren't big drinkers and I was brought up on cask Cook's Chasseur and Muller Thurgau. It was all class.
8. So how did you turn yourself into a wine writer?
It was my hobby really. I was working at bFM in Auckland and would spend far too much money going to the bottle shop to try a new wine and go home and share it with my flatmates. I should have been saving for a house. Then I was made redundant and had to move home to Hawkes Bay and I was a bit depressed about it so I put myself through a wine marketing course at the University of Adelaide. Four years correspondence with trips over there for exams or whatever. And I had a couple of babies and worked in wine shops while I was doing it.
9. What do you teach your children about alcohol?
Children learn by watching the adults so my husband and I are very conscious that our kids see us enjoying wine when we are having a meal, or relaxing, but they don't see us drink to excess. I think kids seeing adults drinking too much is a really bad thing, even if it's at Christmas or whatever. And I don't think they should grow up thinking that's the only way to have fun. That's the crux of New Zealand's issue, I think, that you must have a drink to have fun.
10. Is it difficult watching yourself on TV?
It's awful. I'm 39, a mum of two, and have a pretty sedentary job and I never seem to find time for exercise. I have five chins on TV and the bags under my eyes are horrendous. I thought if I spent $70 on YSL Touche Eclait it would all go away but it didn't. I do start a diet every day. Right now I'm not eating spuds or rice and I'm trying to eat this gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free bread. I'm struggling. I read somewhere that you can judge how much weight you are losing from looking at your collarbones. I can't see any yet.
11. Where will you be in 10 years?
I hope I'm 20kg lighter and still making Thirsty Work.
12. Are there any real downsides to the job?
I really don't like going out to bars to drink. I like catching up with people over a meal but I just can't be bothered to go out drinking anymore. It feels like work.