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Being Black in the World of Wine

"Black people only drink sweet wine."

This quote, often whispered in hushed conversations, reflects a stereotype that has persisted within the wine industry for far too long. It is a misconception that assumes specific wine preferences based on racial or ethnic backgrounds. But let us challenge this notion and embark on a journey to explore the vibrant world of Black wine connoisseurs, professionals, and enthusiasts. This article aims to debunk myths, celebrate diversity, and shed light on the contributions of Black individuals within the wine industry.

Image of two black couples drinking red wine.

Table of Contents


Myth Debunking: Breaking the Stereotype of Wine Preferences

In a recent group of Black wine lovers, the Founder of Léoniea Domaines, Paradise Rodriguez-Bordeaux, posed the question, "What's missing in wine?" The responses were diverse, but a common theme emerged: a desire for stronger representation of Black wine professionals and enthusiasts. Many shared their experiences of encountering assumptions and stereotypes. One Lady recounted her disappointment when wineries would immediately offer only sweet and lower-tiered wines, assuming that was all she would prefer. Another Gentleman, with over 20 years of experience in the fine dining industry, expressed frustration at being underestimated and dismissed due to his race.

These anecdotes highlight the persistence of stereotypes that limit the experiences and opportunities of Black individuals within the wine world. However, they also demonstrate the resilience and determination of Black wine enthusiasts to challenge these misconceptions. The truth is, Black people have diverse and nuanced palates, just like any other group of wine lovers. By debunking these myths, we can foster a more inclusive and equitable wine industry.

Embracing Diversity: Exploring the Cultural Influences of Wine Traditions

"In order to change the narrative, we must challenge the stereotypes that confine us." - Unknown

In the vast and intricate world of wine, diversity reigns supreme. It is a world where no single style or preference can accurately represent the grand tapestry of flavors and aromas that wine has to offer. Black wine enthusiasts, like their counterparts from all walks of life, appreciate a wide variety of wine styles, from sweet to dry, and red to white.

 The notion that Black people have a singular wine preference is a fallacy that undermines the individuality and complexity of our palates. There is room for every taste and preference. Some may savor the velvety smoothness of a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, while others may find delight in the zesty acidity of a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. The beauty of wine lies in its ability to cater to a myriad of tastes, ensuring that there is something for everyone.

Black wine enthusiasts have embraced this diversity wholeheartedly. They appreciate the nuances and complexities found in wines from different regions, grape varieties, and winemaking techniques. Whether it's the rich and earthy flavors of a Napa Valley Merlot or the vibrant and tropical notes of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Black wine enthusiasts revel in the kaleidoscope of flavors that wine has to offer. The anecdotal experience shared earlier by a Black wine lover further emphasizes the absurdity of this stereotype. In that previously mentioned group, another lady recounted a memorable evening when she introduced her friends to a bold and complex red wine. Their initial surprise at her choice quickly transformed into appreciation as they discovered the depth and sophistication it offered; serving as a reminder that taste preferences transcend racial or ethnic boundaries and are shaped by personal experiences and individual palates.

It is essential to recognize that wine is not simply a beverage; it is an integral part of culture. Wine preferences are influenced by a multitude of factors, including cultural heritage and traditions. From the vineyards of Italy to the wine regions of South Africa, wine has been intertwined with the fabric of societies for centuries. Within the Black community, cultural influences play a significant role in shaping wine preferences and the appreciation of different wine styles.

Food is a cornerstone of cultural identity, and wine often serves as its perfect companion. The art of food and wine pairing is a time-honored practice that enhances the dining experience and brings out the best flavors in both. Within the Black community, there are rich and diverse food pairing traditions that influence wine preferences.

For example, the soulful flavors of Southern cuisine, with its hearty dishes like gumbo and collard greens, find harmony with bold and robust red wines. The interplay between the smoky and spicy flavors of the food and the deep fruitiness of wines like Syrah or Zinfandel creates a symphony of flavors on the palate.

In contrast, the lighter and more delicate flavors of Caribbean cuisine, with its emphasis on fresh seafood and tropical fruits, find their perfect match in crisp and refreshing white wines. The citrusy notes of a Sauvignon Blanc or the floral aromas of a Riesling complement the vibrant flavors of dishes like jerk chicken or grilled fish.

Regional wine preferences also play a significant role in the diverse range of choices made by Black wine enthusiasts. Wine regions around the world each have their unique styles and grape varieties, which are deeply influenced by the geography, climate, and winemaking traditions of the area. Black wine enthusiasts appreciate the diversity of these regional styles and the stories they tell through their wines.

For example, the bold and complex wines of South Africa's Stellenbosch region reflect the country's rich winemaking history and its unique terroir. The deep reds of Pinotage or the elegant Chenin Blancs showcase the diversity and character of South African wines.

Similarly, the luscious and aromatic wines of the Douro Valley in Portugal, known for its production of Port wine, captivate the palates of Black wine enthusiasts with their rich flavors and velvety textures.

Personal taste experiences also shape individual wine preferences within the Black community. Each person's journey with wine is unique, influenced by their exposure to different grape varieties, winemakers, and wine regions. Through exploration and discovery, Black wine enthusiasts develop their palates and refine their preferences.

By embracing the cultural influences that shape wine preferences, we celebrate the diversity and richness that wine brings to our lives. The interplay between food, wine, and cultural traditions allows for a deeper connection to our heritage and fosters a greater appreciation for the world of wine.

Trailblazers of the Wine World: Celebrating Black Wine Professionals

In a previous article, we explore the impact of Women of Color on the Wine Industry. There are trailblazers who have shattered barriers, broken stereotypes, and made significant contributions to the industry. Black wine professionals have played a vital role in shaping the landscape of wine appreciation and education, paving the way for inclusivity and diversity. Their expertise, passion, and dedication have not only elevated the wine industry but also inspired future generations of wine enthusiasts.

One such trailblazer is André Hueston Mack, a renowned sommelier and winemaker. After a successful career in the music industry, Mack shifted his focus to the world of wine and became the first African American to be named Best Young Sommelier in America. His winemaking venture, Maison Noir Wines, showcases his innovative approach to winemaking and his commitment to pushing boundaries.

Mack's story is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance. He overcame obstacles and challenges, proving that determination and a strong work ethic can lead to success in any industry. Through his wines, Mack continues to inspire and uplift, encouraging others to pursue their dreams fearlessly.

Another influential figure in the wine world is Julia Coney, a prominent wine writer and advocate for diversity and inclusion. Coney's work focuses on amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities in the wine industry and challenging the existing norms. Through her writing and speaking engagements, she brings attention to the lack of diversity and works tirelessly to create a more inclusive space for all wine enthusiasts.

Coney's advocacy is a powerful reminder that representation matters. By highlighting the experiences and perspectives of marginalized communities, she opens doors for others and fosters a sense of belonging within the wine community. Her work serves as a catalyst for change, driving the industry towards a more equitable and diverse future.

There is also our very own founder, Paradise Rodriguez-Bordeaux, who struggled with discrimination and sexism in the industry. In her own blog piece about this very topic titled, "A Cultural Reality Check" she recalled an instance where a property deal for expansion was thwarted due to sexist assumptions about her role. "The awards, my education and experience, nor did the money matter to him," she frustratedly stated. “Thankfully”, Paradise says, “there is time to grow forward and do better, and that starts with #MindfulIndulgece; especially in ethical marketing practices. Through her various ventures, including Léoniea Domaines, Let's Wine About It, and Deesse du Vin, she is creating opportunities and platforms for women and people of color to thrive in the wine industry. Paradise strongly believes in "conscious consumption" & #MindfulIndulgence, and has dedicated herself to changing how the wine industry promotes, advertises, and discusses wine to avoid encouraging behaviors that could lead to alcoholism. Additionally, she actively involved in philanthropic efforts to support and celebrate women and people of color in the wine industry.

In addition to these trailblazers, there are countless other Black wine professionals who have made significant contributions in various aspects of the industry. From winemakers and sommeliers to educators and consultants, their expertise and passion have enriched the world of wine.

It is essential to recognize and celebrate these individuals for their achievements, as they serve as role models and inspirations for aspiring wine enthusiasts. Their stories remind us that diversity and talent know no boundaries, and that the wine industry is enriched by the inclusion of voices from all backgrounds.

Graphone  reading "Vineleve", which is leoniea domines wine directory.

Wine Education and Awareness: Promoting Inclusivity and Breaking Stereotypes

Education is a transformative force that has the power to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and promote inclusivity. Wine education provides a platform for aspiring wine professionals to develop their skills, expand their knowledge, and gain recognition in the industry. According to a report by the International Journal of Wine Business Research, Bell reports that for Black wine enthusiasts, access to quality wine education has historically been limited. However, there are organizations and initiatives dedicated to changing this narrative and providing inclusive educational opportunities.

One such organization is the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV). Founded in 2002, the AAAV aims to promote and support Black-owned wineries, as well as provide scholarships and mentorship programs for aspiring Black wine professionals. Through their efforts, the AAAV is actively working towards increasing representation and diversity within the wine industry.

Additionally, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) offers globally recognized wine education programs that are accessible to individuals from all backgrounds. Their courses cover a wide range of topics, from grape varieties and wine regions to viticulture and winemaking techniques.

The importance of wine education extends beyond aspiring professionals. It also empowers wine enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the vast world of wine. By deepening their understanding of different wine styles, regions, and production methods, individuals can cultivate a more refined palate and confidently navigate the wine landscape.

In recent years, there has been a surge in wine clubs, like our Léoniea Société, organizations like Black Girls Wine Society, and events focused on promoting wine education and appreciation within the Black community. These platforms provide opportunities for individuals to engage with like-minded enthusiasts, participate in tastings and workshops, and learn from industry experts.

One notable example is Adventures in Black, a community-driven organization that hosts educational events, tastings, and networking opportunities for Black wine enthusiasts. Through their initiatives, they foster a sense of community, support, and empowerment, creating spaces where individuals can explore their passion for wine in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

In addition to organizations, social media platforms have become powerful tools for wine education and awareness. Influencers and content creators from diverse backgrounds are using their platforms to share their knowledge, experiences, and recommendations. This digital landscape allows for a democratization of wine education, making it accessible to a wider audience and breaking down traditional barriers to entry.


Allyship is another vital component in building an inclusive wine world. Allies are individuals who actively support and advocate for marginalized communities, using their privilege and influence to create positive change. In the context of the wine industry, allies can contribute by amplifying the voices of Black wine professionals, challenging systemic biases, and promoting diversity in their own spheres of influence.

Allies can be consumers, educators, winemakers, sommeliers, or anyone who believes in the importance of creating an inclusive wine community. By actively seeking out and supporting Black-owned wineries, attending events that celebrate diversity, and engaging in conversations about representation, allies can help reshape the narrative of the wine industry.

Furthermore, allyship involves listening, learning, and unlearning. It requires a commitment to self-reflection and a willingness to confront personal biases and prejudices. By educating themselves about the experiences and challenges faced by Black wine enthusiasts, allies can contribute to a more empathetic and inclusive industry.

graphic with the words saying mindful indulgence.

Growing Forward: A Toast to the Future

As we come to the end of our journey, we raise our glasses in celebration of the progress made and the strides taken towards a more diverse and inclusive wine industry. The contributions of Black wine professionals have left an indelible mark on the landscape of wine, pushing boundaries, challenging norms, and inspiring change.

The wine world has evolved significantly in recent years, thanks in large part to the efforts of Black wine professionals who have paved the way for inclusivity and representation. Their dedication, passion, and expertise have shattered stereotypes and opened doors for aspiring wine enthusiasts from all backgrounds.

However, there is still work to be done. While progress has been made, the wine industry continues to face challenges in achieving true diversity and inclusion. Systemic barriers, biases, and lack of representation persist, hindering the advancement of aspiring Black wine professionals and limiting the range of voices and perspectives within the industry.

To create lasting change, we must continue to amplify the voices of Black wine professionals, support Black-owned wineries, and advocate for equal opportunities. It is essential that we challenge the status quo, confront biases, and actively work towards dismantling the barriers that hinder inclusivity.

Education and awareness will remain powerful tools in driving this change. By promoting wine education programs that are accessible and inclusive, we can empower individuals from all backgrounds to pursue their passion for wine. Through mentorship and sponsorship, we can create pathways for aspiring Black wine professionals to excel and thrive in the industry.

Representation at all levels of the wine industry is vital. From winemakers and sommeliers to educators and writers, it is essential that Black voices are not only heard but also valued and celebrated. By embracing diversity in leadership roles, industry events, and media representation, we can shape a wine world that truly reflects the richness and diversity of our society.

Allyship will continue to play a crucial role in the journey towards inclusivity. Allies have the power to use their privilege and influence to effect change. By actively supporting and advocating for Black wine professionals, challenging biases, and creating spaces for dialogue and collaboration, allies can contribute to a more equitable and inclusive wine industry.

As we raise our glasses to the future, let us remember that the power to create change lies within each of us. Whether we are consumers, educators, winemakers, or enthusiasts, we all have a role to play in shaping a wine world that embraces and celebrates diversity.

Cheers to a future where every wine lover, regardless of their background, feels seen, heard, and welcomed in the world of wine. Let us toast to the achievements of Black wine professionals, the progress made thus far, and the journey ahead towards a more inclusive and vibrant wine industry.

In closing, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the trailblazers, educators, advocates, and allies who have made this journey possible. May their stories continue to inspire and guide us as we work together towards a future where the world of wine is truly for everyone.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why is Black representation important in the wine industry?

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About Leoniea Domaines

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Goddesses have been a symbol of strength and power throughout history, embodying feminine grace and wisdom. Léoniea™, the emblem of our wines, stands as a symbol of timeless elegance and refinement. Her grace is a reflection of the meticulous craftsmanship and artistry that shape every vintage. Our wines, akin to Léoniea™  herself, offer a celebration of complexity, balance, and unparalleled quality. They are more than mere beverages; they are an experience, a connection to the essence of sophistication, and a tribute to life's most exquisite pleasures. Leoniea #LeonieaDomaines #EmbraceTheDivine


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