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5 Black-Owned Wines You Should Be Sipping Right Now

Life & Travel

During ESSENCE Festival, there was a "sea of blackness," as Yvonne Orji excitedly pointed out. And with that, there was also (obviously) events for and by us. One that stood out for me was the Black Wine Experience, hosted by the Hue Society's founder and sommelier Tahiira Habiba, a wine tasting where "assimilation is not required."


As someone whose taste buds have grown to enjoy the taste of fermented grapes with day old pizza or Chinese (whatever's available), I've been dying to level up on my knowledge when it comes to pairing, swirling, sipping, and all of the other seemingly pretentious things you may have seen a wine lover do. (Don't judge! The mere fact that wine is even a preference is personal growth.) Not only did the Hue Society wine tasting come with the knowledge but they came with an amazing selection of black-owned and/or imported wines.

And because I'm not one for keeping secrets, I'm going to spill all the tea (er, wine?) -- name-dropping each of the vendors featured at this event (because a good friend always puts others on), plus a handful of suggested tips on how to wind down and let go of the social pressures that are sometimes associated with drinking wine.

Giphy

As someone who overthinks and analyzes as much as my brain will allow ("Am I doing this right?" is my favorite question even when I can't be wrong), I decided to get Tahiira's take on the top five things that are most imperative when getting to know your wine.

It's Personal

"There are no real hard rules except to drink what you like. It's good to know [the] basics but at the end of the day, wine is a personal experience. Everyone starts with sweet wine, the problem is the lack of education and staying stuck there."

Uncork Different Possibilities

"Be open to trying new and different wines. How will you know what you like if you drink the same thing over and over? So when I say, 'Drink what you like,' I mean, 'After you've tried a few things and you circle back to the one you like,' NOT stick to the same thing."

Sip Up

"The only real way to learn about wine is to drink it. Every grape is different, every place is different, every winemaker has a different style and technique; so a Chardonnay from Sonoma by [this] winemaker might not taste like the Chardonnay from Napa by [that] winemaker. It's good to take notes so you can start to see the differences. Drinking trains your palate and opens up your scent memory (olfactory glands) so you start to learn more and more the more you drink."

To that effect, one of the vendors pointed out to me that Rose is a blend of grapes...not a grape itself (like other types of wine). A Rose can consist of Pinot Noir grapes and Chardonnay grapes or any other combination of grapes.

Just Ask

"Don't be afraid to ask questions! Not a single person knows EVERYTHING about wine and a good sommelier or expert is happy to share their knowledge without making you feel dumb. If you run into a snob, just ignore them, and try to get whatever knowledge you can from the presentation, anyway. There is a point to the swirling, etc just ask and don't be afraid because the person next to you has [that] question too!"

FYI, that swirling thing she mentioned? If I recall correctly, that allows you to get a better whiff of the different aromas in the wine. Not only is wine personal, but scientific too, which was never my forte so I won't get to lying to you on how it works. I believe there are also some other benefits of the swirl.

The Motto

"This is my personal motto, wine is about memories! It should be enjoyed and not this nerve racking, anxious experience. Hue Society has the motto 'Assimilation Not Required,' meaning we don't have to enjoy wine the way someone else does. If you want to drink moscato, have at it, but do it because it's an educated choice that you're making with your dollars, not because it's the only thing being offered to you."

From their lips to yours, each brand describes what they brought to the table in their own words, leaving us thirsty as ever:

McBride Sisters Collection

Cuisine Noir Magazine

Their Selection: Brut Rosé

Check out their collection of wines here, and learn more about the sisters' monthly and quarterly wine clubs here.

Sip & Share

Their Selection: White Sangria

Their Pairing:

"White Sangria is a medium sweet, made in California. It's light bodied. Crisp, peach and citrus aromas with flavors of apricot on the palate. It pairs well with seafood, salad, aged cheddar, goat, asiago and gouda cheeses."

Maison Noir Wines

André Hueston Mack, Founder of Maison Noir

IMDB

Their Selection: Love Drunk Rosé

Seatpocket Wines

Their Selection: Rhythm Rosé

Their Pairing:

"An easy drinking 2016 Rosé of Grenache from the Central Coast of California. It is light and fruit forward with characteristics of candied strawberries. It's the perfect pairing for light summer salads (especially Mediterranean, Waldorf, and fruit salads), and a classic cheese board."

*This wine is exclusively sold at events until August 1, 2018. However, Seatpocket offers other selections and is in the process of producing more.

Aslina Wines

Ntsiki Biyela, founder of Aslina Wines

Their Selection: Chardonnay

Check out her more extensive selections of wines by clicking here.

Boone Selections Importer

Lawrence Boone Selections

Their Selection: Pink Flow Rosé

Their Pairing:

"Flow Rosé is a blend of Carignan, Merlot and Syrah with intense fruity aromas of wild strawberry, ripe red apple, peach, rose petal, and lavender. Gorgeous pomegranate, tobacco, and blueberries on the palate. Round and smooth with a crisp refreshing finish. This is a different type of rosé full of personality and extremely easy to drink. Rose all day, all year! Pair with spicy Ethiopian and Thai cuisine, pork, salmon, veggies and Saturday night with the girls!"

*Featured image by Lawrence Boone Selections

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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