"Nobody knows this, but I didn't really know that the nominations were coming out that day," the 35-year-old actress said by satellite from London last week while promoting her film "Contagion."
Winslet starred in the HBO miniseries "Mildred Pierce," based on the 1941 James M. Cain novel, which grabbed a top 21 Emmy bids.
"I was in England, and I was doing some really great daylong cookery classes with my best friend," Winslet said. "And my best friend and I, that particular day, we happened to be doing a butchery class. And, literally, as the email came through telling me that I had been nominated and that we had received 21 nominations overall - I am not kidding you - I was hacking up a chicken. Isn't that great? I just love that story."
Winslet is nominated for lead actress in a miniseries or movie for her title role in "Mildred Pierce."
"I have never been nominated for an Emmy before. I've never been to the ceremony before," she said. "And it's a wonderful way actually to reconnect with all the people who were involved with `Mildred' who I haven't seen in actually for over a year now. So, I'm really, really excited."
"`Mildred' was a very special part of last year for me and for all of us who were involved," she said. "And it was a really extraordinary group of people who all stuck together for 17 weeks of really hard slog. So, you know, all the hard work paying off in these nominations is just fantastic."
The 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented Sunday in Los Angeles and broadcast on Fox.
"Someone is making me a very lovely dress and I'm, I'm not very good at being prepared this far out," she said. "I usually go into full-on organizational preparation mode about 48 hours beforehand. And somehow it sort of all comes together. So I'm hoping that it will be all right. And I'm really looking forward to it."