Insider tasting – From Boston to Bordeaux. Aline Baly of Chateau Coutet shares her tried and tested wine and wellness tips.
10 July 2019
In 2008, Aline Baly traded Boston for Bordeaux and marketing Bio-science for marketing wine. Aline has lived, studied and worked in New England, the Mid-West, Asia and Europe. She holds a Masters in Business Administration focused on entrepreneurship and marketing from the Kellogg School of Management and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and international relations from Bucknell University.
Aline joined her uncle at the family estate, Chateau Coutet, First Classified Growth in Barsac, where she has spent the past decade using social media and her experience in communication to bring a connected vision, all while successfully overcoming cultural and generational differences. She is also the marketing manager to a family company that owns several Bordeaux Classified Growths and the youngest board member of one of the region’s prominent Chateaux association.
As she spends a lot of time on the road, she is well aware of the wellness challenges facing a woman in wine. Here she shares how she rises to these challenges.
What brought you to the business and how long have you worked here?
I joined my uncle to co-manage the family estate in 2008 – its been over 10 years now! I am not sure where the time has gone!! Actually, a lot of time has been spent traveling the globe to meet Gold Wine lovers– my first 6 years I was averaging about 150 days a year.
What do you love most about the business?
There isn’t much to not love… It’s definitely a people business! Throw in a couple of good bottles of wine and some delicious dishes… and you’ve got yourself a “meeting”.
Wine and wellness
What does the concept of Wellness mean to you?
Wellness is feeling good about yourself, accepting yourself how you are… It’s about balance.
If it’s not indiscreet, how many times do you drink each week and do you limit yourself to a certain quantity of alcohol?
Well, my friends know me for saying “I only drink when I am working.” Which might seem crazy to some, but I usually host a lunch and/or dinner every 2-3 days…
Has your attitude changed to drinking and wellness over the years?
I use to hate exercising… but that was before. The need to move is key. I try to walk 10K steps a day – and I get to a yoga class 2 to 3 times a week.
Are there foods you consciously include in your diet? If so what and why?
• Fruits and vegetables
• Rice – lots and lots of rice. First and foremost because I love it — but if you do your research there is a reason why it’s a fundamental food in so many cultures that feeds more than half the world’s population! Here are the benefits: provides energy, prevents obesity (low in fat, cholesterol and sodium), gluten-free (no inflammation in the gut), controls blood pressure (low in sodium), diuretic & digestive qualities (helps eliminate toxins), improves metabolism, boosts cardiovascular health, relieves IBS, etc.
Are there foods you avoid? If so what and why?
• Red meat ; I like mine well done but I live in a region that prepares it blue…
• Gluten when I am on the road
• Cheese when I am on the road
Do you take any supplements? Which ones?
• Magnesium, magnesium and more magnesium: I discovered that I have a calcium deficiency thus magnesium does not stick around in my system. And magnesium is key for managing stress.
Do you exercise?
• Walking, hiking
What are your biggest challenges to staying fit and healthy in your job?
• Hours spent driving and behind my desk
• Meals late at night and early morning calls the next day a lack of sleep
How do you overcome them?
• I put myself first and I am not afraid to say no.
• I have an Apple Watch that keeps me motivated by helping me, a goal oriented individual with a geek streak, turn my activity into data. When I know how many steps I have walked, I usually want to walk even more.
• I try to walk at lunch time.
• I coordinate my schedule to minimize early wake-up calls after late nights.
• I work from home when possible – the day of a big night or the day after.
• I try to have breakfast 12 hours after dinner.
Do you set yourself goals, and do they help in your aim to stay well?
• 10000 steps a day; ideally I would like to clock in the same amount of hours I drive into walking time… but that is really only possible in summer, with longer days.
• I track water intake… 1,5 liter is the objective – very difficult when you are on the road…
Wine and women
Does that fact you are a young woman help, or is it a hindrance in this business or is it now irrelevant? If so how would you pinpoint the changes?
Should you find yourself the only women in the room, then it helps as they’ll more easily remember meeting you and your name. Should you find yourself with a bunch of machos, then it’s a hindrance. And for all the times it helps or it’s a hindrance, I have found that it can also be totally irrelevant.
Do you feel there are different expectations in drinking culture for a woman compared to male colleagues?
Fact: I have a low tolerance.
At the beginning I felt pressure to keep up with the boys in terms of my consumption during a wine dinner … until I realised that no one cares. And guests definitely prefer to speak to a lucid Aline than an Aline who needs to call it a night because she can’t think straight.
Have you seen an evolution of attitudes in the business, towards drinking in general?
It is less taboo to discuss this topic amongst wine professionals, but we have a long ways to go…
Does it affect business socialising?
Not unless I let it.
How to you cope with wellness pressures when you are travel, business and pleasure?
I once read that a famous rapper (whose name I have forgotten) survives his crazy travel schedule by keeping his home routine wherever he goes. This means bringing his peanut butter with him to enjoy the same food… Once I read this, it clicked…
Business travel is very different than pleasure travel. It’s hard to mix the two – especially if you are traveling a 150 days a year. So when I am on the road for work I am super disciplined about sleep and what I put in my body. I try to trick my body into thinking that it’s at home relaxing… As for what ends up in my plate – since I am promoting French wine, a lot of times our guests want to eat French foods with our wines. As a consequence, I haven’t had too many weird food experiences
Do you see a difference in attitudes in different countries?
Absolutely, every country has a different set of values that impacts expectations and governs etiquette. Adaptation is key – but I believe that you need to stay you. It’s a way to also share your culture with those that host you.
If you had just one or two top tips for women in wine wanting to stay well what would they be?
Be yourself. Respect yourself. Water. Sleep. Exercise.
Is there anything else you would like to share about women in the booze business or about wine and health?
Sometimes, you have to have to throw the rulebook out and just listen to your gut, aka your second brain. And when it wants desert, there is reason it wants dessert. But this advice is not limited to your menu choices…
Thank-you Aline, Chateau Coutet and Magnesium it is then!