You don’t have to be French to be a well woman in wine – Meet Marie-Louise Schyler.

As a historical port, Bordeaux has always had a very international population. Northern European trading partners have established themselves here since the 17th century when Bordeaux was France’s largest port. It is no surprise then that my next interview in the ‘Drinking Woman’s Diet series, is with a Danish lady, Marie-Louis Schyler. As she starts a new role with a Cognac house after working as Head of Communication for two leading Bordeaux  wine companies here is her eloquent take on the joys and challenges of being a woman in the wine and spirits business today.

About me. I am Danish but have spoken French since I was three and have lived in Bordeaux for 25 years now. France and French culture are part of who I am. Since I was a child, my parents were frequently entertaining, so wine and fine dining have always been part of my life too! Socializing around a nicely dressed table is a part of my culture and so a natural thing to me.

I have worked in the wine business for more then 25 years, mainly in communication and marketing. Social events and lots of travelling are part of the job – the fun part – but also the most challenging one as it can be tiresome – coping with time differences and late nights or barely no nights at all – it all takes up a lot of energy!

I love wine – and have also recently discovered fine spirits – I enjoy everything about it: the history, the people behind it, the making – so storytelling around it comes naturally. Of course, my job has its pitfalls: lunches and dinners with lots of good food and good wines / spirits are part of it. But it is all a question of balance.

Wine and wellness. Wellness is all about staying in shape, enjoying life the right way, the perfect balance between work and pleasure. Easy to say but not always easy to do in my line of business!  Generally, I drink wine max three to four times a week, and try to stay at 2 – 3 glasses each time. But most of all:  I am a strong supporter of quality not quantity !

Food. I am not naturally fond of heavy food and desserts so that certainly keeps me off certain temptations! I don’t eat meat but try and stick to fish, vegetables, dairy products, eggs. During winter, I take extra vitamins (especially C) and magnesium.

Fitness. I believe in exercising as a means to staying in shape but also keeping a vivid mindset! I was a marathon-runner for many years but recently, I have switched to different sports : thai boxing (very technical !), gym and especially yoga that I have been practising for 5  years now.

Travel. When travelling I always have a pair of running shoes with me, to go for a quick run or to the hotel’s gym. I also have an extra yoga mat in the trunk of my car, so I can practice whenever there is a quiet, green spot somewhere. Just 30 mins, one or twice a week when on the run does wonders. This is very important as it takes away fatigue and helps you to stay alert and efficient

Wine and women. There are more and more women in the wine business, especially in executive jobs, which was barely the case when I started 25 years ago. On the viticultural side, and in some parts of France, the business is still very male dominated, but it is slowly changing.  I admire women who have succeeded at the top of the wine business as they have probably been working more and harder in order to achieve the same as their male piers.

Now some men even acknowledge that women are more precise and more sensitive when tasting wines, they are more organized and generally have more empathy in their way of working or managing.

When entertaining, men also acknowledge that women cannot / should not drink as much as men, and that suits me fine !

There is definately a change in the way the younger generation working in the wine business consumes alcohol – they are more aware of their consumption, and generally take care of their health, which was not always the case 20/30 years ago.

Tips. Lots of exercise and water – try not to drink more than two days consecutively – if you have a big lunch and a big dinner the same day, try and just taste the wines, in small sips, and not emptying the glass! This could be considered as arrogant – a terrible waste of great wines and food – but a good health is far more important.

I am strongly convinced that a great wine or a fine spirit in small quantities makes life even more enjoyable ! It lifts your spirit and makes you happy!  It’s part of French culture – any culture actually – and certainly part of mine.

Photo Credit Alain Benoit

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