Black sommeliers are amongst an elite group of execs who’re skilled in all elements of wine service, in addition to wine and meals pairings. Whether or not working in among the world’s high wonderful eating institutions or internet hosting unique non-public tastings, these women and men are serving to to shift the way in which all of us partake in our vino.
After all, being a Black man or lady with such a prestigious certification isn’t a simple accomplishment. They need to work their approach by means of a number of ranges of examinations whereas additionally navigating an business, that though round for hundreds of years, nonetheless lacks in its variety efforts.
Right here at EBONY, we’re all the time seeking to give flowers and recognition to these in our group doing extraordinary issues. It is a curated listing of the most effective sommeliers who’re shifting the way in which the world views wine, whereas additionally educating Black and Brown communities and making a protected area for them to take pleasure in it.
Under, take a look at the inaugural class—in no specific order—of the “Greatest Black Sommeliers” for the 2023 EBONY Meals & Wine Honors.
One of many major faces within the effort to diversify the wine business, sommelier Tahiirah Habibi is solely doing the work that must be performed. Because the creator and founding father of The Hue Society—which prides itself on being an intersection of wine and tradition—she advocates for extra Black and Brown illustration within the wine area whereas additionally internet hosting occasions across the nation that develop the palettes of many who usually haven’t got entry to wine training. In 2022, Habibi’s group was named as Wine Fanatic’s Social Visionary Awardee. She additionally launched her inaugural Wine and Tradition Fest, which was held in Atlanta.
André Hueston Mack
Not solely is André Mack some of the well-known Black sommeliers, however the New Jersey native can also be a preferred winemaker, writer, and TV present host. Over the course of his storied profession, he is earned a number of awards, together with that of Greatest Younger Sommelier in America by the extremely regarded Chaine des Rotisseurs. In 2007, he launched his model, Maison Noir Wines, which now contains a portfolio of varietals that may be present in 45 states and 11 international locations. You can too catch Mack merging wine and tradition by means of Bon Appétit’s sequence, “World of Wine with Andre Mack.” Lately, he started curating wines for Membership W, a wine membership for a brand new technology of drinkers to proceed his mission of constructing wine extra accessible to all.
Sommelier Tonya Pitts earned the title of “Sommelier of the Yr” in 2022, throughout Wine Fanatic’s Wine Star Awards. The San Francisco-based wine knowledgeable at present serves as wine director of town’s One Market, the place she manages an inventory of greater than 500 of the world’s greatest varietals. However her work does not cease there. Pitts is a mentor by means of her founding function with Wine Unify, a company dedicated to bringing extra variety to the wine business. She additionally advocates for marginalized communities inside the hospitality sector.
At present primarily based in Paris, France, sommelier Tanisha Townsend is the Chief Wine Officer of her model, Woman Meets Glass. With greater than a decade within the wine area, Townsend spends her time educating vacationers who go to the French metropolis on the nuances of wine, particularly varieties originating in that area. Moreover, she hosts a wine podcast, Wine College Dropout, and teaches wine programs at universities in Paris.
Acknowledged by Wine Fanatic Journal as a High 40 Below 40 Tastemaker and one among Wine & Spirits Journal’s “Rising Black Voices in Wine,” sommelier Cha McCoy is definitely making her mark on the business. The New York native now splits her time between Portugal and Italy, the place she works carefully with cooks, winemakers, distillers, and hoteliers on methods to disrupt the hospitality business by making the meals, beverage, and tourism business extra accessible and accountable. By means of her signature wine dinner sequence “The Communion,” which she has hosted in 5 international locations over 3 years, McCoy goals to dismantle what she calls palate discrimination within the meals and beverage area.
Chris Gaither is at present only one of 4 Black Grasp Sommeliers. Sure, even in 2023, there are solely 4 Black women and men who’re acknowledged as mastering their information of wine. Gaither achieved this feat in 2022—one thing that took him 10 years to do after failing the extraordinary examination course of seven instances. It needs to be famous that solely 5% of people that take the take a look at, move it. Now, the Morehouse Faculty grad owns a restaurant, Grafted, in San Francisco, along with his spouse, who additionally holds the title of Grasp Sommelier. The 2 will quickly open a second restaurant in San Francisco, Glu Glu, later this 12 months.
Carlton McCoy, Jr.
The second Black American to attain the title of Grasp sommelier, Carlton McCoy Jr. additionally earned the distinguished at simply 28 years previous—making him one of many youngest folks to take action. He’s now the lead expertise for CNN’s authentic sequence, “NOMAD with Carlton McCoy.” By means of the present, cameras comply with his journey of discovering among the world’s greatest wine, meals, and artwork. Along with his sequence, he’s additionally the present CEO of 5 iconic and historic wineries primarily based in Napa Valley.