Jun 30, 2020
Tahiirah Habibi grew up in north Philadelphia, graduated from Penn State University and began working in hospitality, while taking wine classes at night to begin her journey of becoming a sommelier and pioneer.
In 2012 Tahiirah opened the St.Regis, Bal Harbour. She later moved on to leadership positions at Michael’s Genuine and Baoli. Frustrated with the lack of diversity in the industry she believed her skills could bridge the intersection of wine and culture.
In 2017, she launched The Hue Society as a safe space for the community to learn, commune and find resources in one place. Tahiirah has been featured in Ocean Drive as one of the top 5 female sommeliers, VinePair, Upscale Magazine, David Banner Podcast, and Imbibe Magazine to name a few.
With a decade as a sommelier in some of the top end restaurants in Miami, Tahiirah is an accomplished wine professional yet she has struggled every step of the way to gain recognition, and to cope with the overt and covert racism that exists in the industry. She discusses her difficult experiences, including the incident that prompted her viral video describing how the Court of Master Sommeliers requires all candidates to call them “Master” and what that means to her and other black and brown people who take the exam. Watch Tahiirah's video from Instagram about her experience with the Court of Master Sommeliers here.
After we discuss the issues, Tahiirah uses her never-ending positivity and her penchant for action and problem solving to explain why she founded the Hue Society, which aims to provide a safe space for black wine lovers to come together, learn about wine, and enjoy the process without feeling the need to assimilate. She discusses the Roots Fund, founded this year with Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy, to help fund people of color on their journeys into wine professions and how we can support her mission and vision by being more proactive about forming more multi-racial communities of wine lovers.
Discussing these issues and hearing this perspective is an essential step in changing wine so it reflects more of what the world looks like, not just what wine has traditionally represented. If you listen with an open mind, there are many important ideas Tahiirah shares in this show.
To learn more about The Hue Society and the Roots Fund, please click here.
Tahiirah's article in Wine Folly is here.
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