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A Threat Intelligence Analyst Says These 3 Wines Are Perfect

Top picks from Chelsie Petras, tech whiz and host of “Babes and Booze” podcast

Janice Williams By November 9, 2021
photo illustration of Chelsie Petras
Photo illustration by Pix

Chelsie Petras’ first memory of wine is of a Christmas dinner hosted by her aunt. She doesn’t remember her age, aside from being very young, but she can recall that dinner as though it happened yesterday. It’s when she had her first sip of wine.

“I thought it was the most disgusting thing in the world. I can remember thinking, what is this, and why are they drinking that. It was so terrible,” Petras says. 

Funny how several years later, the thing that Petras once deemed utterly despicable turned out to be one of her life’s greatest passions. Not only has an all-grown-up Petras come to enjoy wine, but she also has a podcast dedicated to preaching the gospel of the glass. 

Babes drinking booze

Alongside wine blogger Elle Rodriguez, Petras hosts the podcast “Babes and Booze.” The pair highlight bottles they’re drinking and discuss everything from pop culture to winemaking. Since launching in July 2020, Petras and Rodriguez have interviewed dozens of industry professionals like “Wine for Normal People” podcast host Elizabeth Schneider, Jermaine Stone of “Wine and Hip Hop,” and Matt Carvalho and Tres Goetting of Aesop Wines

With Season 2 well underway, the duo has started to branch out. They’re talking spirits now, too. In the most recent episode, released in October, the duo spoke to the people behind the award-winning tequila brand, Løs Sundays Tequila.

For Petras and Rodriguez, the podcast is a vehicle where friends can catch up and talk about the wines they’re currently enjoying, and the latest splashy headlines to grace the newsfeed. For listeners, it’s a chance to learn about the wine and spirits industries in an approachable and entertaining way.

“It’s actually one of the better things to come out of the pandemic,” Petras says of the podcast, “Because Elle and I have been Instagram friends for a really long time. We’ve also only met in person like three times. But we talk every single day and plan stuff out for the show. Sometimes you just click with people, and you have that good energy.”

She adds, “That’s one beautiful thing about social media. You get to meet people you would never have met otherwise.”

A creative outlet

As much as Petras’ life, podcast, and social media presence revolve around wine, sharing her knowledge of fermented grape juice started as a mere break from her day job. Petras works full-time as a threat intelligence analyst in the tech industry, working with finance, retail, and other businesses to track fraudulent activity and cyber fraud accounts. Although she enjoys her work, managing the job with the stress of life in New York City, where she lived before uprooting to New Jersey, was draining.

“I was really not enjoying living in New York. It is such a heavy place, especially when you’re not making a lot of money, and you’re tired. The city is a lot. I felt I needed a change of scenery and a creative outlet,” she says, adding, “I’ve always been interested in wine. So I thought I’d learn everything I could about wine so I could be able to speak to it.”

Initially, Petras learned about wine on her own and wrote about the bottles she discovered and enjoyed on her blog Chel Loves Wine and her Instagram account. Eventually, she landed an opportunity to study for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. After six years of studying, advancing past level three, and sharing all she’s learned with social media followers, she’s currently working on obtaining master-level Champagne certification. 

“I really love Champagne and Port. Those are my two favorite beverages ever,” she notes. 

“Champagne has this aura around it that makes it seem so fancy, like you can only drink it for fancy moments or celebrations, but it deserves to be enjoyed for more than that. Champagne is like my kryptonite.”

Champagne to balance it all

With a full-time job, a podcast to run, and a wedding to plan, any free time Petras has these days feels like a special occasion. So it should come as no surprise that she often finds herself casually popping a bottle of bubbly at any given moment. 

“Champagne has this aura around it that makes it seem so fancy, like you can only drink it for fancy moments or celebrations, but it deserves to be enjoyed for more than that. Champagne is like my kryptonite,” she says, adding that she’s a sucker for vintage Port as well. 

“I’m constantly searching for new vintage Ports that are around. There’s always a Port in my house,” Petras says. 

Yet, as listeners of her podcast know, she’s as likely to be sipping on a canned wine or a glass of Chardonnay — yet another wine style she keeps on hand at home — as a non-vintage bubbly.

“I’m not a big French wine person, but when it comes down to my staples, they are all French. There’s always at least one bottle of French Chardonnay in the wine closet,” she says.

Petras recommends three bottles she likes to drink at any given moment.

3 wines to try: 

bottle of Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay 2020

Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay 2020 ($12)

“This is my go-to wine,” Petras says of Louis Jadot’s signature Chardonnay. The grapes come from the Mâconnais area, within the Burgundy winegrowing region in France. With its peachy aromas and creamy, buttery, stone fruit flavors, Petras notes that this is the easy-to-drink wine that she turns to when she’s minding her budget. “I love Chardonnay, but I can’t afford to buy really fancy Burgundies all the time,” she says. “This one is affordable, and it’s just good to drink.”

bottle of Graham’s Portugal Tawny Port 20-Year

Graham’s Portugal Tawny Port 20-Year ($48)

Nutty aromas. Rich, complex, and full of fruit. These are just some words to describe Graham’s Tawny Port, produced in Portugal’s Douro Valley. Seasoned in oak casks for an average of 20 years, Petras says this smooth and luscious Port is one she likes to drink as a cocktail aperitif or after a fantastic dinner. “I love this Tawny Port,” says Petras. “You can use it in cocktails. You can use it for drinking by itself. It’s a super versatile Port, and it’s so enjoyable.”

bottle of Laurent-Perrier Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature NV

Laurent-Perrier Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature NV ($85)

Sparkling white-gold, this wine, produced by Champagne house Laurent-Perrier, is made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. The style is no dosage, meaning no sweet wine nor spirit was added to the bubbly before bottling, resulting in an aggressively crisp Champagne. That’s the quality Petras enjoys about the wine the most. “It’s ultra-dry, zero residual sugar, no dosage. It’s bone dry. It’s so crisp and refreshing. It’s my most expensive wine that I like to treat myself to for everyday drinking,” she says.