A flurry of Instagram stories lit up my feed early this week after The Washington Post’s food critic failed to name any of the city’s female sommeliers during his weekly live chat.
The questioner even suggested there were only just a few. But the reality is there are an abundance of women in top wine positions across the Washington. And just as Tom Sietsema asked in his reply, a list of D.C. Women in Wine curated by local industry women quickly emerged. Nearly 80 names as of this writing are included.
The tone of the Instagram posts ranged from outrage to opportunities to thank and uplift those who have been pivotal to opening doors for others in the industry.
And this illustrates why approaching wine and women is complicated. The perception of the lack of women in wine far outweighs the reality of what the community looks like.
This post is purely to acknowledge that life got in the way of updating this site. But fortunately, my love and passion for wine never wavered. I continued to write, to learn, and drink merrily with friends. But after a handful of years that included a move to Boston, a pandemic, and then a move back to Washington, D.C., I’m excited to refocus on this space.
I’ve always touted wine in conversations as a wonderful lens to understand the world, and certainly in the years since I last checked-in, that statement only rings louder. But it’s still a luxury good that’s purpose is to bring people together, to make people happy. I hope this space will find a way to balance those aspects.
As I attempt to relaunch this site, here are a few things I’ve been mulling over:
Wine and Politics – When I jumped into the wine world it was pure escapism from the rest of the world. I avoided certain wine bars I would have otherwise made my home because of their outspoken activism (even when I fully-supported their positions). But if wine is a lens to understand the world, I would be doing a disservice to stick with my avoidance behavior. Too many of the world’s troubles impact everything from those in the industry to the grapes on the vine. And while I still prefer to focus on the fun and beauty of wine, there are important stories to be told at this intersection.
Women and Wine – I’ve always said if I ever went after a Masters in Wine, my dissertation would be focused on why serious wine is never marketed to women. But in the past few years, the marketing question is more centered on the generational differences than that between the sexes. The increase of more women sommeliers and industry professionals is also slightly shedding some of those “wine-for-book club” stereotypes. The topic of women and wine has always been a complicated subject to nail down as women have been an integral part of the wine world for centuries. But from an enthusiast perspective, why am I still often one of the few women at a table when invited to a serious wine dinner?
Climate and Wine – We know this isn’t a new conversation, but it’s the single biggest global issue impacting wine. In the past few years however, there’s a shift about thinking beyond what’s happening in the vineyard and what makes its way into the glass. The industry is looking at the consumer impact as well (and of course, countless consumers are demanding changes). Packaging questions and shipping questions, for example. It’s not just whether wildfires are going to impact a vintage, but what can wineries, winemakers do to mitigate a more sustainable future.
So I’m pulling It’s Wine By Me out of the cellar, dusting it off and hoping to explore these topics and more. Pour yourself a glass of something you love, and thank you for joining me here!
Of all the social networks, Instagram is by far my favorite way to learn about wine — and probably more importantly, the people in wine. It can be super fun to ogle at bottle shots (I’m certainly guilty of posting many of those) or follow winemakers during harvest, but it’s the accounts that teach me a little something or show off a creative way to look at wine, that I really appreciate. Here are three of the accounts I’m currently crushing on. Leave me a comment with the accounts that make you happy.
Given the general public’s recent infatuation with the profession, it’s safe to say we’ve officially transitioned from the age of the stuffy sommelier to that of the casually hip “somm.” An exchange that once involved a highly formalized set of rituals (pour for the man to taste first, never leave the bottle on the table) now takes place amid the blare of rock music in wine-centric restaurants like Manhattan’s Pearl & Ash or Racines NY, where rather than wax poetic about Latour or Lafite, your somm will likely evangelize about the sherry renaissance or recommend some offbeat natural wine from the Loire.
It’s a great summary of the renaissance happening in the wine world. And it’s certainly the energy I’ve been feeding off of in my own discoveries these past few years. But I have to wonder if Zachary Sussman is suggesting that the less “stuffy” and more “casually hip” state of the industry is a reason for the rise in more women entering the field? It’s probably made it easier. But even if being a sommelier was still quite a formal profession – in today’s modern environment – would a lot of woman still be shut out?
I don’t have an answer. Just something to think about.
I’ll admit, one of my guilty pleasures is watching E News when I get home from work. And I’ll admit, I’m a fan of Giuliana Rancic. But when I first saw this story in my Google newsfeed, I was ready to roll my eyes. Then I realized, even though I’m a woman, I’m not the market audience for her newest venture:
That’s right, those are four single-serving wine cups stacked as if they’re one bottle. Aesthetically, the design is very pretty and contemporary. And I do love the thought that it’s a way of being able to save the rest of the bottle when you’re in the mood for just one glass.
I have no doubt there’s a market for these, especially among those who are looking for the alcohol benefit in a nice tasting glass of wine at the end of the day. It may even prove to be a good, accessible gateway into the world of wine for millennials.
But that’s not me, and I have to remember, just because I’m not the market for a particular part of the industry, I shouldn’t be quick to judge. It will be interesting to watch and see how these do.