As part of a “Colour of Wine” series, Be Inclusive Hospitality held a second webinar on 16th September with four panelists, each professionals in the wine industry. Co-ordinated by Mandy Mason (@comewinewith_me), a BIH ambassador, the four panelists had backgrounds in restaurants, wine training, sommelier and apprenticeships. Several topics were discussed, in each case drawing on personal experiences.
Anoushica (@anoushica) first discovered her interest in wine through working at The River Cafe in London, becoming familiar with their all-Italian wine list. She then went through a 2-year apprenticeship with Liberty Wines, a London-based wine merchants. The programme gave her a view into warehousing, shipping, marketing and sales, which she continues to work in today alongside hosting tasting events through her business, Sweet Spice Wines (@sweetspicewines).
Audrey Annoh-Antwi (@the_beer_wildered_pom) started out in beer where she came to take an interest in wine after being “captivated” and “charmed” by sommeliers. She is now sommelier at restaurant Lorne, and has completed here WSET Level 4 in Wine. Wine existed in her world before - skins used for beer and barrels for maturation - so the switch across to grapes had a connector. Once working in wine, Audrey enjoyed “palpably see[ing]” how a wine can contribute to a meal and what knowledge of wine makers and origin can help someone see that there is a beginning and end in one bottle.
Nada (@nada_ragrette299) became deeply involved in wine through working in restaurants in Glasgow. Progressing towards her WSET Level 3 in Wine wasn’t a problem - something she didn’t mind studying for, even when becoming a sommelier was a new thing to her. Nada admitted to being a Blossom Hill rosé kind of person originally, opting for “anyone’s cheapest rose” as a first choice. But through working in fine dining through the Kained Holdings group, she found that she needed to become knowledgable. The evolution of veggie and vegan is one trend that Nada has applied her continuous learning approach to.
Tanisha (@girlmeetsglass) was calling in from France where she is a wine educator. Her trajectory into wine was more organic - through attending a wine fair in graduate school where she met someone who then employed her in his business. Looking back on her wine career to-date, Tanisha appreciates the variety of people met through a single lens and think that wine tourism will grow in the coming years.
Barriers to participation
During the conversation, the panelists discussed how wine wasn’t seen as a viable job and that there were clear barriers even once they had developed credibility. Nada (Egyptian by origin but speaking English with a Scottish accent) admitted when she turns up to wine tasting, people presume that she is there to get “steaming drunk.” She finds herself being questioned, even when she received the same invitation that everyone else did. Tanisha indicated that she has become accustomed to introducing herself with her credentials, leading with a qualification, meanwhile Audrey became aware of her otherness when out on tastings with colleagues and missing out on pours.
Tanisha is direct in her views on ways to improve the industry - more executives and directors from people of colour. Anoushica wants to see wine marketing to wider audiences, a point that Audrey later echoes pointing out how drinks like Guinness have moved with the times - the at-home wine experience presents one frontier. Nada wants to see the drink paired with a greater variety of dishes, showing how international flavours from non-European cuisine can also be connected with wine.