As we isolate ourselves at home, social media has taken on many important roles: connecting us with friends, following the news, and entertaining us through the endless hours. See, for example, Richard’s constantly updated list of opportunities for Lockdown learning. Our time online has skyrocketed as we’ve been stuck inside; for example, Italians have spent 70% more time on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp since their terrible COVID-19 outbreak. Fortunately, several social-media accounts provide wine lovers with education, entertainment, and even some stress relief during this difficult time.
Andrea Zigrossi’s globe-trotting @
From Aosta to Zermatt, Andrea is exploring the world of wines in the footloose and fanciful way only the young can do. No boring bottle-shots here. Andrea peppers his feed with pours framed by landscapes and cultural references, giving context to every shot. He keeps comments on how the wines taste to a minimum, linking to producers if viewers want to learn more. This Instagram feed is about the experience of enjoying wines in the places they come from. It’s a light-hearted, enthusiastic study in wine geography that inspires me to add to my own travel list.
Åsa Johansson’s insider Italy @
Dream of exploring every little corner of Italy’s wine regions? Your dream is Åsa’s reality, and you can ‘travel the boot’ with her as your guide. A Swede married to a Tuscan, Åsa lives and works in the Italian countryside. As she visits wine aficionados throughout the country, her Instagram stories document her travels, with beautiful photographs of fascinating experiences, winery tours, restaurant dishes and visits to artisans. Even during quarantine, she is sharing slices of Tuscan life, bottling her own olive oil, surfing with her children and tasting wine made by her neighbours. Through her eyes, we too can enjoy la dolce vita.
Brian McClintic’s daily wine meditation @
Stressed out by isolation and wine-industry chaos? Take a daily virtual walk in the woods with Master Sommelier Brian McClintic. Man-bun-wearing, bearded Brian weaves his passion for great wine and regenerative agriculture into his introspective IGTV [Instagram TV] monologues. Brian talks about our human purpose, the place of wine in the world, charitable giving and other feel-good deep-thinking wine topics. If he looks familiar, you might remember him from the SOMM movie series, which originally chronicled his American study group’s path to becoming Master Sommeliers. Brian’s Instagram account is just as entertaining, and gives us much-needed perspective during this difficult time.
When cooped up inside, most people need a supplement of extra vitamin N. Thankfully, you can get your daily dose of nature through Professor Meredith’s Instagram feed. A grape geneticist at UC Davis, Carole is an avid birder during dusk and dawn. Her Instagram documents the antics of her Lagier Meredith Napa Valley vineyard’s feathered residents: iridescent wild turkeys, fantastical vibrant hummingbirds, and the occasional quail. The star of the feed, however, is Ethan the glorious hawk. Tune in to find out what Ethan is up to as he swoops in for vineyard cameos all year round.
Elvina Snell-Fortuin’s 21 days of South African wine lockdown @
When the South African government declared a lockdown because of COVID-19, it also shut down all alcohol sales and exports. Wine-industry friends Elvina Snell-Fortuin, Leanne Beattie, Roxanne La Vita and Janet Rowsell rallied together to keep wine top of mind, releasing a 21-day topic schedule for all wine bloggers and influencers. Using the #SAWineLockdown hashtag, South African wine lovers across the globe are now sharing their SA cellar favourites based on a daily theme, with close to 800 Instagram posts in the first week, and tweets reaching 11.2 million people. Some of the most passionate and knowledgeable posts are from organiser Elvina. Check her profile to see the stay-at-home wine lovers’ music video on Pinotage Day.
Matt Landry’s edu-skits for the Stablehouse Bistro @
No wine region is safe from mockery by British Columbia’s Best Sommelier 2019, Matthew Landry. Bored manning the bistro’s takeout window during lockdown, Matt decided to take his restaurant’s reviews into his own hands – offering wine-education videos in exchange for gift-certificate purchases. So far the Instagram videos have featured a dapper English Matt smoking a paper pipe and waxing lyrical about madeira, the sommelier in very short lederhosen and felt cap giggling about German wine labels, and even a classic impression of unsophisticated Canadian beer drinkers. It’s fantastically, barely held-together sketch work, all devoted to Matt’s beloved Stablehouse Bistro in Vancouver, Canada.
Master Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier is an intellectual, thoughtful Frenchwoman; her Instagram feed is thought-provoking and inspiring. Pascaline’s posts are a mix of industry advocacy, reflections on deep wine topics, and glimpses into her life as a working NYC sommelier. Last year Pascaline scooped the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France title in the sommelier category, cementing her position as one of the world’s best sommeliers. As a promoter of natural wines, she often suggests wines and books that wouldn’t come across a conventional wine lover’s radar. As a bonus, she posts screen shots of her articles for La Revue du Vin de France, which you can read in French with judicious use of your finger zoom. Anglophones needn’t worry about reading the rest of her posts in a mix of French and English; bless Instagram for providing Insta-translation.
How can you taste a wine through a visual medium? Hong Kong-based Master of Wine Sarah Heller’s Instagram feed is a gorgeous artistic collection of her own visual tasting notes. She compiles digital collages that portray her experience of tasting specific wines. The different elements represent aromas and wine texture, with fruits, flowers, herbs and spices reflecting the aromas in the wine, and general shapes and colours reflecting more abstract impressions. The superimposed line represents the trajectory of the tasting during the experience. In her stories, Sarah chronicles her real-life adventures in the Asian wine scene, judging competitions and attending tastings all over the world. Sarah is Asia-Pacific’s youngest Master of Wine.
London’s own Sarah Newton has been passionately recording her in-depth wine reviews on Instagram for two years, all the while studying for her WSET Diploma. She began with bottle shots and deep, written reviews, and chronicles of her annual walks on the Camino de Santiago. Then one year ago, Sarah switched her stream to videos on IGTV, and her viewing rates skyrocketed. Watch her surprisingly simple, yet must-see review format: Sarah, a bottle, and her honest, in-depth reviews with interesting tidbits on wine regions … all in 90 seconds.
Sparkling Winos' blog on bubbly @
Do you go bananas for bubbles? Don’t miss this dazzling duo’s devotional tributes to sparkling wine. Canadian couple Mike and Jeff have made it their life’s mission to demystify bubbly and help others ‘find their sparkle'. With tutorials on sabrage, field trips to Germany to learn about Sekt, in-situ champagne reviews and in-depth interviews with their local Niagara region wine producers, the Sparkling Wino’s Instagram is focused and fun. Vibrant photos of the pair in action lead to more in-depth articles, such as pairing Lambrusco with lockdown delivery food. Pop a cork and dive into the fun.
Wine Folly’s graphic wine lessons @winefolly
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Madeline Puckette’s Wine Folly account is priceless. With delightfully whimsical graphics discussing rare varieties to Tex-Mex wine pairings, Wine Folly’s engaging graphics lead to website articles touching on wide-ranging wine topics. The feed is accessible for beginners but thorough enough to inspire novice wine aficionados, and is a favourite among my winemaker friends. Don’t miss American sommelier Madeline’s wildly passionate videos, where viewers, according to her, ‘learn by drinking’ as she slurps and shouts about wines from around the world. Madeline was voted Wine Communicator of the Year 2019 by the International Wine & Spirit Competition for Wine Folly’s distinctive portfolio of learning tools for wine lovers.