by Michael P Coleman
Whether you are a wine enthusiast or are just starting your journey, wine is meant to be enjoyed. A new organization, Les-Sommeliers, is paving the way with a Black History Month event at the Oakland Masonic Center in Oakland on February 15 from 4-7:30pm.
Les-Sommeliers is an organization of sommeliers for some of the Bay Area’s best restaurants. They want to connect top wine brands with today’s diverse wine consumers, specifically African Americans, Latinos, and Asians.
Now, admit it: you Google’d “sommelier.” I did! It’s pronounced So-mell-ee-AY. I’m relatively new to wine, having shifted my focus from the beer and spirits which had been more popular with my family and friends. I know good wine when I taste it — I just don’t immediately know where to find it. That’s where Morancy and Les-Sommeliers come in.
If you didn’t Google it, a “sommelier” is simply a wine steward, someone who knows wines inside and out, and who takes pleasure in welcoming others into the fold.
Ruben Morancy is Les-Sommeliers’ founder. He has been a sommelier for more than 15 years.
“I founded Les-Sommeliers having noticed that most events and wine marketers had been mostly focused on a mainstream, elite consumer,” Morancy said. “We want to change that.”
Morancy and Les-Sommeliers are off to a great start. The February 15 event promises to be a unique sip and learn experience, with the goal of making wine education fun without the intimidation. It will offer new and seasoned wine enthusiasts the opportunity to talk directly to and purchase directly from our area’s premier producers.
The evening will feature top champagne houses including Champagne Perrier Jouet, Champagne Palmer, Champagne GH, Mumm and Domaine Carneros, and Adami Prosecco. Both still red and white wines will also be featured for tasting.
“We have done our best to invite classic wine producers that we as sommeliers would have selected for the general public,” Morancy said. “A good sommelier cares more about what his or her guest will find enjoyable, not necessarily what he or she might find to be pleasing to his or her own palate.”
To complete the celebration, savory bites for pairing will be provided by famed LA chef Keith Corbin of Alta W-Adams and Louella’s Cali Soul Kitchen. Entertainment will be provided by composer and bassist Marcus Shelby.
As enthusiastic as Morancy is about the February 15 event and future ones to be held throughout the state, he is not alone: one of his Les-Sommeliers colleagues and One Market wine director Tonya Pitts bubbled over with excitement when asked about her connection to wine.
“My personal mission is to excite as many people as possible about wine,” Pitts said. “I don’t want to use the word ‘demystify’, but I want wine tasting to make sense. Wine is an enjoyable and fantastic thing to drink and study.”
Morancy insists that a wine event targeting people of color is long overdue.
“I see an opportunity not only to educate, but to find and grow an underserved group of wine enthusiasts, and to provide them with alternate choices for wine consumption,” Morancy said.
“Ultimately, Les-Sommeliers will have an online retail store component,” Morancy added. “We plan to launch everything on February 15.”
“The combination of great food and music, and a very charming venue, will make for an enjoyable evening.”
WHAT: A Sparkling Black History Month Celebration
WHEN: Saturday, February 15 from 4pm until 7:30pm
WHERE: Oakland Masonic Center, 3903 Broadway, Oakland CA 94611
COST: Tickets are $65 per person or $100 for two people when purchased by Friday, February 14. Event day tickets will be $75. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.