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Black Wine Professionals Demand to Be Seen
josé a. alvarado jr.
Jun 29, 2020
Location: New York City
Tammie Teclemariam, a freelance food and drinks writer in Brooklyn (who has contributed to Wirecutter, which is owned by The New York Times), calls herself a “wine unprofessional” to set herself apart from what she sees as an exclusionary industry. “Just the nature of what wine is makes it really hard to separate it from racism,” said Ms. Teclemariam, whose recent tweet of a photo of Bon Appétit’s editor in chief helped spur his resignation and a reckoning over institutional racism at the magazine. “In order to trust a wine person, you have to respect their humanity as someone who can physically enjoy and understand an experience as well, or even in a more nuanced way, than you. That’s the whole humility of wine appreciation, and I think it’s hard for some people to relate to me equally even on a sensual level.” Rampant class and generational issues play a part as well in what she sees as wine’s old-boy network and bro culture. Adding racism to the mix creates an impregnable wall, she said. “The fact is in order to really be a trusted voice in wine, most black people have to be co-signed by a white person or celebrity alliance, or else be in constant recitation of their work history,” she said. —

Photographed for The New York Times, words by Eric Asimov.

Black Wine Professionals Demand to Be Seen
It’s an old story, of being ignored, patronized or dismissed. But for black retailers, sommeliers, writers and winemakers, the days of invisibility are over.


José A. Alvarado Jr. is a visual storyteller devoted to documenting cultural and social issues, as well as human interest stories in the US and Puerto Rico.
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