Press

“The Myth of ‘Old World’ Wine,” Punch, Nov. 17 2020:

“As wine professionals, we’re trained to carve up the world into two parts: the Old and the New. Europe on one side and North America and the entire Southern Hemisphere on the other. Wine, in this telling, has an ancestral home, and one can taste the difference. Old World wines are more mineral, more complex, lower in alcohol, higher in acid, have a sense of place. ‘New World’ wines are defined mostly by their lack—of history, of minerality, of tradition.

“I want to suggest that what we think of as wine ‘tradition’ is more of a selective misremembering than an unbroken chain. Europe was once one of wine’s ‘new worlds,’ and plenty of its ‘traditional’ practices have existed for less than a century in many cases, with alternatives having been edited out or deliberately abandoned. Likewise, the ‘New World’ itself is older than we think, full of lost folkways that provide alternative paths for wine’s future.”

Read the entire piece here.

“How One Woman is Diversifying the Wine Industry, One Zoom At a Time,” Jenn Harris, Los Angeles Times, 4 Nov. 2020

A profile of Jirka Jireh, with whom I co-founded Industry Sessions, a virtual wine education platform for BIPOC beverage industry professionals. The reporter sat in on our chenin blanc seminar:

“‘No sommsplaining ever,’ Jireh said to start the class. ‘Let’s make it safe for everybody.’

“The Zoom class was filled with wine industry professionals as well as chefs, people who wanted to get into wine sales, and even a coffee enthusiast who simply wished to learn more about wine. People from 13 cities around the country listened in as Sligh, wearing a green shirt emblazoned with ‘Chenin!!! Chenin!!! Chenin!!! blanc’ answered questions about the grape and used a vocabulary that was neither pretentious nor preachy.”

Read the entire piece here, and support Industry Sessions via Venmo here.

“5 Rising Stars in New York City,” Courtney Schiessl, SevenFifty Daily, 23 Sep. 2019

“As a Master Sommelier and the first woman to win the title Best Sommelier of France, Pascaline Lepeltier has high standards for wine knowledge and service. When she interviewed James Sligh for a sommelier position at Rouge Tomate (now closed) in 2016, the two clicked. It wasn’t just Sligh’s in-depth knowledge of wine that caught Lepeltier’s attention—it was his pure, unbridled curiosity for the subject and desire to share that passion with anyone and everyone. ‘Here is someone who is as enthusiastic about sherry and orange wine as he is about drinking beer with pizza,’ says Lepeltier. ‘He doesn’t just want to pass an exam and make more money—he’s an example of what more people should be like in the wine business.’

Read the entire piece here.

“A More Wonderous Wine Atlas,” Leslie Pariseau, Punch, 19 Oct. 2020

“For the past three years, sommelier and wine educator James Sligh has been doodling maps of winegrowing territories in an attempt to show how the wine world’s borders have stretched—an evolution especially linked to the rise of the natural wine movement. It’s a transformation, Sligh discovered, that wasn’t being represented within canonical wine atlases. In iterating upon his doodles, his illustrations bloomed to represent those uncharted regions and winemakers whose work has only emerged in the last decade or so, and often a part of the movement we think of as synonymous with natural.”

Read the entire piece here.

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