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Unreserved Wine Talk

238 EpisodesProduced by Natalie MacLeanWebsite

The Unreserved Wine Talk podcast features candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the wine world. Your host, award-winning journalist Natalie MacLean, dives into how it feels to compete in the nerve-wracking World's Best Sommelier Competition, the shadowy underground of wine forgery… read more


223: Thriller Novel Asks: "Can You Imagine a World Without Wine?" with Steven Laine, author of Root Cause

Can you imagine a world without wine? How did an author create a new genre of wine thriller based on a winemaker’s worst nightmare? What if the root louse phylloxera that destroyed most of the European vineyards in the 1850s returned but was even more destructive?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I'm chatting with Steven Laine, award-winning restaurateur, hotelier, and author.

You can find the wines we discussed at



What about the experience of travelling that motivated Steven to live in nine different countries?

How did Steven become involved in the wine industry?

Where did Steven’s inspiration to write thrillers come from?

How did the root louse Grape phylloxera impact European vineyards in the 1800s?

Which surprising facts did Steven learn about phylloxera while researching Root Cause?

What’s the best moment of Steven’s writing career so far?

Do beta readers play a role in Steven’s writing process?

What can you expect from Steven’s book Root Cause?

Who are Steven’s favourite mystery writers?

Why are stuck fermentations a winemaker's worst nightmare?

Why does Steven love to read widely?

What was the inspiration for Steven’s second book, Dragon Vine?


Key Takeaways

The premise of Steven’s novel, can you imagine a world without wine, hooked me from the beginning. I can’t imagine erasing all those great times I’ve shared with friends and family over a glass or two, let alone not doing the work I love in this field.

I love how he takes a winemaker’s worst nightmare and up the ante by having the root louse phylloxera come back as even more destructive. This doesn’t seem to be an impossibility with today’s climate change as well as the mutation of viruses that spread around the world quickly.

I enjoyed Steven’s insights into how travel changed his perspective. I think each trip, each location brings out a different piece of us.


Join me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Live

Join the live-stream video of this conversation on Wed at 7 pm ET on Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video or YouTube Live Video.

I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion of what we’re discussing? What takeaways or tips do you love most from this chat? What questions do you have that we didn’t answer?

Want to know when we go live? Add this to your calendar:


About Steven Laine

Kirkus Reviews called Steven Laine’s first wine thriller, Root Cause, “An entertaining, wine-soaked mystery.” The Washington Post wrote; “If Michael Pollan and Dan Brown sat down over a bottle of Barolo and brainstormed a novel based on the neuroses of the natural wine movement, they might have come up with something like Root Cause.”

As an award-winning restaurateur and hotelier, Steven has travelled the world working in luxury hotels such as The Ritz, Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, and Pan Pacific. He developed his passion for wine as a Sommelier and Beverage Director in London, England. Since then, he has visited hundreds of wineries around the world.



To learn more, visit

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