Some people may already know this … but each person’s palate is like a fingerprint and shaped by our life’s experiences - what you ate as a child shapes what you enjoy as an adult, and that means a wine that someone else loves won’t taste the same to you. For example - Some of my friends prefer wines that are a bit sweeter than I like, and that’s ok - that’s actually my point. You need to find your flavor.
So while big alcohol makes these assumptions and markets to black & brown women specifically as if we all have the same palate, I'd like to tell them to go… you get my point :). We all have ever evolving palates and that includes black people as well. And while there is always some truth to stereotypes, meaning some black people love sweet wine, it is dangerous to stigmatize and pigeon hold others.
Sadly the stereotype doesn’t stop there. Because wine accessibility has been so limited to mainly white males, the assumption then is women and more specifically minority women do not have refined enough palates to enjoy high quality wines. High quality meaning less sweet. The stigma then becomes that sweet wines are low quality, cheap and for people who lack knowledge of wine, tend to enjoy them. Ironically this notion shows their lack of wine knowledge, specifically sparkling wine knowledge. Sparkling wines historically, prior to a big surge in England, were in fact sweet. As an attempt to enter a new market and compete with England's affection for cider, Champagne’s were made to be drier. So the shift which a lot of people would like to think was about refinement was just an age old solution to sell more product. Like every good business, it adjusted to a customer base.
Today some people still think it’s a harmless stereotype and the truth is no stereotype ever is. I for example deeply fall outside of that stereotype, I love dry sparkling wine. So when i go to a restaurant and ask for a sommelier’s recommendation and all options given are sweet, i find it a bit insulting. Or when i am in a wine shop searching for a new wine to put in our box I am always asked if I want to see the sweet options rather just giving me customer service i deserve and simply asked what i am looking for. Or even worse, when my best friend and I have the audacity as two black women to create a wine business around palate discovery, we are often seen as a “cute” business because there is no way we could be serious.
To be clear this is not an attack on sweet wine, there are times in which i find them to be on point for the occasion, it’s just not my go to. My point however is everyone has a palate and it’s dangerous not to consider it an individualized thing and also quite frankly annoying. Not just annoying because of the presumptuous nature of assuming but also because it is just wrong. Wrongly categorizing a community of people who enjoy this great drink, and wrongfully stigmatizing a style of wine and making people who do enjoy it feel bad about it.
So p.s. big alcohol, black people have a palate too.