Why Katie Lee Is Passionate About Bringing Organic Wine To The Mainstream - Exclusive Interview

Katie Lee Biegel is a bestselling cookbook author, a host on the popular Food Network series "The Kitchen," and now, she can add wine co-founder to her already impressive resume. Biegel told us in an exclusive interview that she had been trying to eat clean food for years, but realized she wasn't putting as much thought into what she was drinking. The West Virginia native revealed this changed after she had her daughter and soon realized a glass of wine was impacting her much differently than before, causing her to feel "foggy" and giving her a "hazy headache feeling."

This ultimately sent Biegel down a path of doing more research into how fermented fruit drinks are made, and she realized there weren't many organic options. When she happened to meet sustainability-focused winemakers Jordan and Adam Sager, the trio immediately realized they shared a passion for creating a product that was free from any harmful additives or preservatives.

Their brand, Kind of Wild, focuses on the importance of ingredients and pays attention to how the grapes are grown with a focus on the environment. We spoke to Biegel more about what makes these types of wines unique, what some of the biggest mistakes are when it comes to cooking with alcohol, which chef has given her the best advice, and what fans can expect to see on the next season of "The Kitchen."

Kind of Wild wine is completely organic and vegan

Can you explain what makes Kind of Wild wine different from other brands?

With Kind of Wild, we are certified organic, zero sugar, and we're vegan. We took all the things that I was interested in with food and thought about it with wine. For decades, I've tried to eat clean, and then the last few years I started thinking more about what I was drinking. I'd gotten to the point, especially after having a child, where I felt like [after] one to two glasses of wine the next day, I felt foggy and had that hazy headache feeling.

It was a real bummer, because I love to drink wine. The more I researched and learned about it, organic wine has less of an effect that way. Kind of Wild is free from any harmful additives or preservatives, so I don't get that feeling. I can drink it all evening and the next day I feel totally normal. And that is such a bonus for me that I can enjoy myself in the evening and feel good the next day.

As a mom, you want to enjoy yourself in the evening. You've worked hard all day, and you want that little bit of normalcy and a reconnection with your old self — to feel social or feel completely antisocial and be by yourself and have a glass. If you have it lingering in the back of your head that you're not going to feel good the next day because of it, it becomes less enjoyable. To me, this is the ultimate win-win.

Many people assume that all wines are vegan. What types of additives prevent them from being so?

This is something that I didn't know about in the past and learned with Kind of Wild. It's because they go through a filtration process or, sometimes with additives, there can be dairy that's in there. There can be fish; fish guts can be a filtration.

Someone just told me a story last week about a friend who was nursing. Her baby had a dairy allergy, so she had to cut dairy out of her diet. She was having a glass of her favorite Pinot Noir every once in a while, and then the next day, her baby would have all these problems. It turned out that there was a milk resin that was used in the making of the wine that she was drinking.

It's one of those things that you don't think about — a wine not being vegan. I'm not vegan, but this covers the bases for people who either are vegan or have allergies like that and need to stay away from some of those foods.

Her favorite wine cocktail and technique for improving a mimosa

The use of wine in cocktails continues to grow in popularity. Do you have a favorite wine cocktail and how is it made?

I like to use the sparkling wine for cocktails. Our sparkling wine is bone dry. It's about 92 calories in a glass, so it's a good low cal choice, and around 11% alcohol. I find myself gravitating towards that, especially if I'm entertaining, because I can have it throughout the evening and have that lower alcohol content if I know it's going to be a long night.

I started making a sparkling margarita with it. I love it. I like anything with a citrus taste to it. It has freshly squeezed lime juice and tequila. Shake that up, put it in the glass, and top it with the sparkling wine. It's this light, bright, refreshing margarita with bubbles.

Valentine's Day is only a few weeks away. What is your favorite dish to pair with bubbles?

Everything goes great with bubbles. I think of having a glass of sparkling wine before dinner, but it's so good with dinner. When it comes to Valentine's Day cooking, my tradition has always been to make something on the healthier side. I think of it as being heart healthy. It's something I started doing years ago and it stuck. I usually make a salmon dish.

I make the salmon with brown sugar spice crust on it, and then I usually do a little salad. I'll put watercress and pomegranate seeds on top. It has a really nice crunch to it and a nice little pop of brightness with the pomegranate seeds. It's colorful and pretty, but the sparkling would go nicely with that, because it's got that acidic moment to cut through the fat of the salmon and it's bright and fresh. It would also go really well with our Malbec.

Sticking with sparkling wine, do you have any suggestions for upgrading a mimosa?

The easiest upgrade for a mimosa is to squeeze the fresh orange juice. It makes a huge difference. Right now, if I was going to make the ultimate mimosa, I am a super Sumo fan. I love Sumo oranges, so I would probably juice a Sumo and make a mimosa with that.

Do you have any must-have wine accessories and what are they?

A good wine opener, and I've gotten really into funny wine glasses. I never used to be into that. I always thought it was silly. Then, this Christmas, I bought some funny wine glasses and I've enjoyed them. They're conversation starters and look good on the table. I'm going to have to look for some Valentine's Day wine glasses. It's fun. It's something different, but I don't have any wine accessories, really. A decanter is always a great thing if you want to decant a bottle of red wine, but you can also take the cork out and let it sit open for an hour if you want to do that, too.

She suggests best dishes to use wine in and which type to use

What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when cooking with wine?

It's important whenever you cook with wine to cook with something that you would drink. That doesn't necessarily mean something that's expensive, but something that tastes good, because it's just like any other ingredient in your cooking. You want to use something that is high quality and adding the alcohol at the right time, along with cooking at the right amount.

If you're making a sauce, you want to put it in and give it enough time to burn off the alcohol flavor and to get into the taste of the wine. I very often make a quick pan sauce. One of our favorites is for scallops with a brown butter white wine sauce. It's so quick and easy. I use our chardonnay for it, and it's one of my go-tos. It's great.

I was just going to ask what's your favorite recipe that uses wine, but it sounds like that's it.

That's one of them that I like to do. I also have a mushroom Bolognese recipe and I use our Montepulciano for that, but any dry red wine would be good. The mushroom Bolognese is terrific. It's rich and hearty, and if you're wanting something this time of year that feels very warming, that's a great recipe.

What do you anticipate will be the biggest food trends of 2024?

I hope to see less trends of food that are just for Instagram — of things that are just to look over the top. I want to get back to food that you want to eat. Good, honest food — that's what I like. I've never been a trend person when it comes to clothes, when it comes to food, or when it comes to decorating. I like classics, and that's what I want for food.

You've met and worked with some incredible chefs. Who has given you the best advice and what was it?

Bobby Flay has been such a mentor to me. He's great. At any time, I can call on him, whether it's about something big or as small as asking about seasoning or how to make a dish better. Bobby taught me how to make a porterhouse steak, and that's probably the best advice he's ever given me, because it is a life skill as far as I'm concerned. His porterhouse steak is the best. It's done in an iron skillet, and he taught me how to do it, and that's his best advice ever.

Why she believes the Food Network's The Kitchen has been successful

Congratulations on the continued success of "The Kitchen." What do you think about the show resonates the most with fans?

"The Kitchen" is popular because it's authentic and we are all truly friends. The audience can feel that and feel like they're sitting in the kitchen hanging out with us. We truly enjoy each other's company. The audience feels it and they feel like they're part of it because our audience is a big part of our show. That's why it's continued to resonate, and I hope that it continues, to because I love doing the show. It's been the greatest career blessing of my life.

What's been your favorite recipe that you've featured on the series?

My roast chicken with croutons is our family favorite. That's a dish I make in an iron skillet. I butter some baguettes, put them in the bottom of an iron skillet, put a chicken on top of it, and roast it in the oven, and I serve it with a little bistro salad.

What can viewers look forward to seeing on the next season?

I'm making a mushroom farrotto. It's like risotto, but with farrow. It's one of my favorite recipes that I've done in a long time. It's really good. I've got a pizza salad coming up.

I also have my sweet orange rolls coming up. It's basically like a cinnamon roll, but [instead of] cinnamon and sugar, it's orange zest and sugar. I put orange zest in the dough, and then I make an orange glaze to go on top. They are so delicious.

To order Katie Lee Biegel's organic wine, visit kindofwildwines.com. The new season of "The Kitchen" premieres Saturday, January 13 at 11:00 a.m. ET on Food Network

This interview has been edited for clarity.