With the sheer amount of knowledge to learn and skills to acquire in order to participate, the world of wine has a reputation for being intimidating, at best. Recently, however, the niche has undergone a democratizing revolution on TikTok.
In the last few years, the social media platform has nurtured a vibrant community of wine enthusiasts and educators. Known collectively as WineTok, they are uncorking the complexities of wine and reshaping the way we approach the beloved beverage. Creators like Eun Hee Susan Kwon (@ehk.vin), Warner Boin (@confidenceuncorked), and Steph Cameron (@stephthesommelier) are at the forefront of this exciting movement, which is reshaping wine education and fostering a more inclusive wine community.
Continue reading to learn how WineTok is making wine education accessible to all. And while you’re here, read about how TikTok has emerged as a tool for teaching and learning.
Making wine education engaging and accessible
From learning the 10,000 different varietals of grapes to training your wine-tasting palate, wine education can seem like a daunting endeavor for beginners. Today, Winetok is changing that perception.
TikTok’s wine educators are determined to break down the barriers-to-entry that have made the niche inaccessible to many. And their approach begins with TikTok’s specialty: engaging, short-form video content.
Upon first glance, TikTok, with all its silly memes and fast-changing trends, might seem completely ill-suited to the sophisticated world of wine. However, it’s precisely TikTok’s entertaining, engaging nature that makes the platform conducive to learning about a topic as complex as wine. The app’s short-form video format allows creators like Eun Hee Susan Kwon to break down the niche’s nuanced concepts into bite-sized pieces that are easily digestible. And, most importantly, content that’s fun to consume.
Meet the WineTok creators
A budding sommelier herself, it was Eun Hee’s passion for wine education that initially sparked her journey as a TikTok creator.
“I had no idea so many people would actually be interested in following along!” she says. “I think viewers appreciate the visually engaging, compact, and digestible format.”
“Having a background in design allowed me to come up with ways to present the information visually, making it more engaging,” Eun Hee says. “The uniqueness seems to pique the interest of those who already know the information, while more effectively educating those who don’t.” It’s a win-win for novices and connoisseurs alike.
On the other hand, it was Steph Cameron’s background as a registered dietician that equipped her with the skill set required to simplify the complex world of wine.
Steph applies a specialist’s mindset to content creation. In her videos, she translates jargon and distills difficult concepts into content that’s easily understood by the average TikTok user.
“I break down all the complicated stuff and present it in a way that’s easy to understand, while keeping it engaging and interesting,” she explains.
Creating a more inclusive wine community
One of the most profound impacts of WineTok is the sense of inclusivity it has fostered within a community once deemed “elitist.” On TikTok, wine educators and viewers are able to share their passion for wine in a space free from judgment.
“Wine is so subjective,” Warner Boin says. “I always encourage people to trust their taste buds and drink what makes them happy. There are no actual ‘rules’ around wine, only suggestions.”
Warner believes that wine should be a source of enjoyment, not intimidation. As a result, she’s a big advocate for “wine confidence.” Much of her content revolves around helping novices build confidence in their knowledge and skills. She also encourages her viewers to trust their tastebuds.
“Learning to identify aromas is an acquired skill. Anyone can learn with practice!” she assures. “You don’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy wine.”
To help her audience boost their wine confidence, Steph emphasizes the importance of curiosity. For instance, she encourages her followers to step outside their comfort zones and explore new wines on their own.
“Don’t just buy the same bottle over and over because you know it’s good,” she advises. “Ask questions, discover different styles and regions. There are over 10,000 different grape varietals outside of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio, just waiting to be enjoyed!”
In terms of creating an inclusive environment, TikTok’s inherent “real-ness” also helps. Warner, a connoisseur herself, approaches her viewers as an equal, which makes her content more relatable, and thus more inviting to beginners.
“I focus on making videos around the topics I was too afraid to ask about [when I was beginning],” she says. “By breaking these topics down, removing any ego, and ensuring we’re all on the same page, wine becomes so much more welcoming for everyone!”
Raising a Glass to WineTok
Today, WineTok continues to thrive, with more users joining in on the journey daily. (The #WineTok hashtag currently boasts over 700 million views.) Beyond wine education, however, WineTok has also become a space where wine enthusiasts of all backgrounds can come together to share and celebrate their passion. And its creators have been instrumental in making the space more exciting and inclusive. Cheers to that!