If You Don't Know Wine, Watch This YouTube Sommelier

Whitney Adams took her wine expertise to YouTube.
Whitney Adams took her wine expertise to YouTube.
Photo by Ryan Orange


Whitney Adams is changing the conversation about wine — and the change has less to do with the topic itself than the people doing the discussing.

It began with a blog post she wrote about a 2009 grape harvest in Italy. Adams had been a wine buyer for the Italian restaurant Cube Cafe when winemaker Bruno de Conciliis walked in and invited her to harvest at his family's winery in Campania. Just as the grapes were ripening that August, she hopped on a plane.

Adams launched a blog, Brunellos Have More Fun, as a way to document the ensuing months she spent traveling. "It was just a way to journal and let my mom know what I was up to," Adams says. It turns out that the way she wanted to talk to her mom about wine was the way an entire younger generation of oenophiles wanted to talk about wine, too.

Adams' thoughts on wine aligned with those of Jill Bernheimer, who opened wine shop Domaine L.A. in 2010 and brought Adams on board to work inventory. Soon after, Adams became a certified sommelier and added somm at Terroni to her résumé.

By 2011 she had more than enough material to get in front of a mic, co-hosting podcast The Crush with expat wine pro Christina Pickard. Throughout the 64-episode run, Adams explored topics such as terminology and terroir in a way that was educational without being elitist. In one episode, Adams phonetically guides listeners through varietals. "Let's break it down: Gah-vurtz-tra-meener — that's a W I'm pronouncing as a V because I'm fancy," she explains. Where other wine podcasters were precious and self-important, The Crush hosts were relatable and down-to-earth. As a result, the podcast reached more than 10,000 listeners in its first year — one of the most popular wine podcasts at the time.

Last year, Adams rebooted her wine blog as WhitneyA.com, and on her accompanying YouTube channel, which now has 12,000-plus subscribers, she began to reach a demo she believes she never would have connected with otherwise: men who are barely of drinking age. As subscriber Brandon Miller comments, "You have quickly become one of, if not my favorite, YouTube person. Love your humor mixed with your knowledge of alcohols."

"Young people don't care about points and big labels," Adams says. She also notes that tastes, in general, are changing: "Now people want a lighter style. Everybody loves pét-nat [pétillant naturel, a low-tech, ancestral style of winemaking]. It's good for beer drinkers and for people who are just starting out. It's good for wine geeks and usually produced by fun, interesting winemakers. Being a winemaker, you don't do it for the money. It's hard as shit. The types of wine I like to drink are from people who make wine because they love it. It really is an artistic expression."

As for her own artistry, Adams has steered the Whitney A. YouTube channel toward everyday issues, such as which lipstick won't get on your glass and which wine to pair with Flamin' Hot Cheetos. She says, "There haven't been any wine personalities that are also just people." 

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