There’s a new wave of wine lovers out there, and they’re changing up the way we sip and share. More than ever, 20- and 30-somethings are the ones calling the wine shots, be it in the stores or at restaurants, and they are increasingly bringing vino into their social spheres.
“The reason I came to love wine was that I realized it’s all about the context in which you experience it. It’s all about the fun,” explains Whitney. “There’s been this movement, a slow trickle across the industry where we’ve moved away from collectable, expensive cult wine. Now it’s like, wait, can we just squash all of that, get back to square one, and just enjoy it?”
By ditching the “stuffy, unapproachable” stigma that once lingered in the wine world, millennials seem to be in agreement about squashing the formalities. Since launching her wine blog in 2009, Whitney has seen an increasing number of fresh faces in her audience. The talk is becoming less about grape minutiae and more about how to choose a bottle at your local wine shop – be it a snazzy well-stocked store or a corner bodega. Or better yet, how to pair it with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
It really does become a lifestyle … Any dinner parties I have, any travel, wine is wrapped into all those experiences for me.
Through her informative and fun videos and blog posts, Whitney brings her lighthearted, wine-loving personality to her peers online as a way for the actress-turned-sommelier to “talk about wine in a different way.”
Before she was exploring vineyards and wine lists in California and Italy, Whitney grew up with Kentucky bourbon roots. But today, she admits to having a full on wine obsession. “It really does become a lifestyle,” she says. “Any dinner parties I have, any travel, wine is wrapped into all those experiences for me.”
One such travel experience brought her to Spain, where she was let in on the not-so-secret allure of Spanish wine. “There is such an amazing history to Spanish wine, and whenever I’m exposed to more producers from different regions I think, ‘Damn, this stuff is good.’ And it’s affordable. So I think it’s all about educating people on the different regions. The best way to get the word out to people is through the trickle, spreading it through the industry with a whisper,” says Whitney.
With the busy lives that many of us lead, it’s important to appreciate the magic of a good bottle of wine without sweating the small stuff. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbeque or a casual movie night, Whitney encourages her readers to just have fun with it. Clearly, she continues to practice what she preaches, noting how a hot dog is her favorite dish to pair with a nice glass of rosé.
As millennials begin to explore a more laid-back approach to drinking wine, restaurants and winemakers seem to be doing the same. Graphic designers are teaming up with wineries to throw exotic images and cheeky designs onto wine bottles. People are “pushing the boundaries,” as Whitney puts it. Of course, the wine inside a traditional labeled bottle can be just as good or better, but the new wave of design adds a fun twist to the shelves.
“There is such an amazing history to Spanish wine, and whenever I’m exposed to more producers from different regions I think, ‘Damn, this stuff is good.’
Top of the line restaurants like LA’s Bestia are making game-changing moves as well, debuting alternative ways to present and pour wines to their diners. “At Bestia, they’re using something called a bone luge. Tableside, they come up to people and use the bone as a luge to pour a glass. That would never have happened at a top restaurant ten years ago. Restaurants are having more fun with how they present their wine,” says Whitney.
From bone luges to boxed wine and chilled reds, the lifestyle focus of the wine world is looking more and more animated. With the onset of the digital age, platforms like Delectable and Vivino are making it easier than ever to stay up on trends and find niches within the wine community. Whether you choose to network with local wine bloggers or follow Spanish winemakers on Instagram, there’s no limit to curating your personal wine curriculum.
For those looking to join the conversation, Whitney suggests that “talking about the wines that inspire you is the most important thing, being authentic, and people will gravitate towards you.” It is about the personable experience wine can bring to the table, not just the methodical details.
“Wine is difficult to describe to someone,” she tells us. “Everyone’s vocabulary is different, everyone’s palate is different. To be able to describe the experience around the wine, the story behind it paints a bigger picture. That’s what wine is all about, anyways. You don’t have to know a ton about it to enjoy it.”
For more on Whitney and the latest wine buzz, visit www.whitneya.com/.