So I’ve been told, who are you to tell me whats good or bad about wine? What does a black guy from Harlem know about quality wine and varietals around the globe? And last but not least, you sir are not a Sommelier. The popular answer to those questions were, â€œO you can go straight to Hades (sorry been reading Greek mythology lately) my friend. So after years of secretly studying, drinking and living wine. I decided to come out of the closet and yell, “I’m mad as hell, and I.. sorry thats in Network. Adult ADD is my problem as well. I actually said, “I know about wine.” Confidently and as accurately as I could articulate. So Michael, how did you become this Mr. I know about wine you say? Well, it started when I began educating my palate by drinking Rieslings in Germany and sitting with Sommeliers where ever I could to know what I’m tasting and what to expect. But later on, I realized. Until I could transition to red wine. I could never really understand wine.
After I left Germany in 1993, It took me awhile to get my oenology feet back under me. So around earlier 2000, my wife and I visited a package store in Duluth Georgia while working in the area, and was introduced to the owner. An asian gentleman who’s family immigrated here from China and took over this store that expanded its wine selection tremendously. There was also a middle age white gentleman from rural southern Georgia that was simple and ordinary that was working with him and consulting for the store. To my surprise these two gentleman took me on a educational trip I would remember for the rest of my life. The gentleman from south Georgia said you will never enjoy wine until you can understand complexity, feel, flavor, aroma and a visual satisfaction of what you hold in your hands. He slowly transitioned me from complex whites into flavorful reds, to bold masculine wines that as they say (who says this?) gives you character. His suggestions were 100% on point and I had to add wine to my food shopping list weekly. My Asian friend took me on a different route. He introduced me to multiple wine vendors that explained the terrior of the grape they were introducing and more regional grape differences when it came to taste, and aromas. He invited us to his public and private wine tasting to rub elbows with the type of people who were buying wines and the people who enjoyed it. I learned there was a difference in drinking wine and experiencing wine. Believe me there is a difference. As an incentive he allowed me small discounts to anything I wanted that was new to my liking or just to try. Imagine these guys grooming and developing this blunt, urban (Ding!)New York attitude young man that they felt deserved an opportunity to explore more than what his life had given him thus far. Thank God to saw what I felt. Otherwise I would still be a mixed drink, sweet wine drinking fool. And you know what they say, I pity the fool. But these two gentleman opened my mind to embrace a world that I always saw from the outside looking in. It was another one of those open book dreams of I wish I could do that. What they did was guide and mold me into an eager balanced wine lover.
My next step was to get some formal training and see where it would take me. I searched for something I could afford as well as something that would give me an opportunity to see if I would venture on to that opportunity to become the ultimate Sommelier. What I found was the Atlanta Wine School. The instructor was fascinated by my interest and dedication to wanting to move through his classes to see if I could truly be qualified to move on to Sommelier. So he encouraged me to see beyond the class and train my palate beyond what the class gave me. I was getting so good that my classmates dubbed me the Dreadlock connoisseur. So after 2 classes and preparing for the 3rd. Regretfully, family and job responsibilities took over the time allocated to pursue this hefty goal. But as I was told, You can use your talent in so many ways than pursuing a goal as a Sommelier. Also, this was not during the age of social media at its peak. Myspace, yahoo and AOL didn’t have the weight like we have today but I had to do something with all that i’ve learned and keep my love of wine intact. With this knowledge and time, I consulted others with wine selections, assisted at wine tastings, tried to get part time jobs as a bartender or restaurant wine steward to no avail. Not much traction was there so I stayed steady with my second love which was tech until I found that I could combine these two together for my own enjoyment and for the people who enjoyed my insight and perspective. So I created the Dreadlockconnoisseur.com and Urbanwinelife.com. Both have my wine experience and life but also more. Podcast and youtube videos just to speak and provide visuals to the experience.
So why do I care about wine? Why do we care about people? We all have the same way we are conceived but we have many differences based on our handling, development, fermentation ( sorry maybe not that) and how we are packaged and sent out into the world to be who and what we are. Wine represents the difference in all of us. Picture a young African American male from the south Bronx, leave there to go to Harlem, then to Clarksville Tennessee. Encountering the eerie experience of seeing a Klan gathering behind a shopping center. Then Fly clear across the world to live in West Germany with a brand new family alone while still trying to find himself. Different state, different country, different culture and different reality. No matter what, I was seen differently each time I landed and it will never stop as long as people have their own opinion and perspective.
Wine is viewed and described by different people differently at any given time. whether its white, red, Rose or now. Believe it or not Blue. Picture this, wine is poured at a table of 10 people. You can actually have 10 different opinions of what it tasted and what it feels like. At the same time, so could these 10 people have 10 different opinions of you and me. So, at times, I am Wine. And wine is me. I made the decision just to share wine with others outside of my circle. Because sometimes, people need to know who you are, and what better way than to do that over a bottle or two of wine.