Meet a Nasty Woman: 5 Questions with Denise Lowe

Meet Denise Lowe.  Denise, aka the Goddess of Wine, is a wine educator committed to eliminating the snootiness and mystery around wine. She was raised by a Nasty Woman and is an outspoken supporter of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. We asked her our five favorite questions that we want to know about every Nasty Woman. Read the full interview to learn more about Denise and the childhood memory that sparked her activism below.

What makes you a Nasty Woman?

Funny, I never thought of myself as a Nasty Woman, but I have often been characterized as brave, sarcastic, abrasive, kind, generous, honest, unfiltered, nurturing and selfish…so I guess it may fit!

I am the youngest of 4 children raised by a feisty woman and a kind, gentle man whose mother was pretty darn feisty herself. My mother, the oldest of 3 sisters, disappointed her own father early by not being a boy. She told me I could be anything, do anything…as long as I find a nice Jewish boy and get married. So, some mixed signals, but a strong sense of right and wrong, and knowledge of the difference between the law and justice. 

I grew up in a strangely enlightened and privileged manner, only to discover that no one else had a family like mine. It was a shock to find that most people didn’t have sit-down dinners for a dozen people at a time; that no one else had a house filled with books, music and art; no one else had a beautiful and SMART mother, who kept the house filled with writers, artists, professionals, thinkers and debaters. She would say that my dad needed the stimulation because of his advanced degrees, but it was really her own need to grow that created a true intellectual salon.

So I grew up in the presence of ideas, discussion and lots of laughter. My parents took me to theater, classical concerts and ballet, art house movies and, most of all, encouraged me to READ everything. They never censored my reading or viewing, figuring I would absorb what I understood, and the rest would come later. 

Share an experience that shaped your views or helped get you involved in activism.

When I was in 4th or 5th grade, my mother was elected PTA President. After she delivered her acceptance speech to the crowd of parents and teachers, several people came up to her to let her know that she should have thanked my dad for writing her speech. She was first astonished, and then angry, that the community thought that because she was a glamorous blonde, she was stupid. That anger drove her, and I never forgot how hurt and humiliated she felt. 

What advice do you have for people who want to help enact change and push progress but don’t know how to get involved?

If you’re not afraid to go outside, find the groups you want to support and volunteer your time, go on marches, canvass your neighborhood or run for office.

If you’re afraid to step forward, send money. It’s easy these days, and the groups you want to support definitely need operating funds. It doesn’t have to be much. Every dollar counts. When I started to see the handwriting on the wall last year, I set up monthly donations to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. All of these service organizations are listed in the phone book and online. They are active on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. You can find them if you want to. 

If you could look into the future, 10 years from now, and see that real progress has been made, what does that look like to you?

At this point, with every day bringing some fresh hell from the GOP, progress would be getting to a place where everybody takes a breath, stops yelling, starts listening and looks at how alike we all are instead of aggressively pursuing our differences.

10 years from now, I hope that we will have protected universal healthcare (especially for children and seniors), decreased or eliminated the gender gap in pay, and stop killing each other. Short of that, I would like to see the ultraconservative, so-called Christians stop trying to create their own version of Sharia law here in the US. 

Share with us a wine favorite. It could be your favorite wine, a favorite moment or memory with wine, or a favorite pairing.  

I started drinking wine back in the 70’s. (We’ll forget about my first wine being Manischewitz Concord Grape!) Popular wines were sweet and off-dry Rosés from Portugal (Mateus, Lancers, etc.), jug wines from Gallo, Paul Masson, Inglenook, oddities like Blue Nun Liebfraumilch (mother’s milk!), and those icky Boone’s Farm things. But one night in 1979, my friend brought a bottle of Ruffino Reserva Chianti Classico to share with a spaghetti dinner. It was different from any wine I had tasted. Ever. And it was good. That was the beginning.

Hmmm…favorite pairing: Fried chicken and Champagne. I don’t do it often, but if you’ve got great fried chicken and a tasty Champagne, well, life doesn’t get much better than that! 

Denise's favorite organizations are Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Learn more about why they matter to her and consider supporting them personally.

I am committed to Planned Parenthood, a truly wonderful organization that serves all women and men who need reproductive healthcare and information. 97% of their work is about birth control, sex education, health examinations including mammograms and pap smears, and real scientific and medical information that can provide people with tools for making educated decisions about their own futures.

 

I also fully support the American Civil Liberties Union, whose charter is to protect and defend the Bill of Rights. One of my favorite quotes about the ACLU is from Aaron Sorkin’s The American President. As his President Andrew Shepherd said, "We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them."

 

 

Emily Davis