Jacqueline Coleman: "Miami is on fire right now!"

Star Wine List's Miami ambassador Jacqueline Coleman.
Andreas Grube
Published 14-March-2024

Freelance writer and wine consultant Jacqueline Coleman is Star Wine List's new ambassador in Miami. Here she talks about her new role, and how the culinary scene in the city has been exploding in the last few years.

"I'm very excited to be a part of this global team. This is a great moment for our Miami wine industry to be acknowledged on an international level, and I'm proud to be a part of showcasing the best wine lists and professionals in our city (and beyond)," says Jacqueline about her new role.

"I'm looking forward to being a part of an organization that celebrates wine as an important part of our dining culture. This is an industry that has been a big part of my life for many years, so I'm happy to share more about what I've been learning and experiencing with a new audience. Also, I'm delighted to be an advocate for our Miami wine community on a much larger scale and represent Star Wine List in South Florida."

Jacqueline Coleman started her wine blog in 2012, and that sent her on a journey that ultimately led to working in wine. At the time, she was living in Washington D.C., exploring the wineries of northern Virginia.

"It was there that I developed a strong interest in studying wine and diving deeper into the industry. I moved back to Miami and earned a sommelier certification in 2013, and from there I started in sales while continuing my writing. And one thing leads to another."

Today she is a freelance writer and wine consultant. She writes a monthly wine column – the only one in Miami – for a publication called Biscayne Times, as well as contributing to other publications such as Luxury Guide USA magazine.

"I'm a regular guest host covering the drinks segment on Linda Gassenheimer's podcast, 'Food, News, and Views.' And co-edit WineGuideMiami.com. Amongst all the other things..."

Describe the dining and drinking scene in Miami at the moment.
"Miami is on fire right now! We've been one of the most popular destinations in the world since 2020, and that is reflected in our exploding culinary scene. New restaurants are opening all the time, and there is a lot of excitement in celebrating restaurants, bars, chefs, and sommeliers. Local Miamians are most passionate about our home-grown talent in food and beverage, and I love to see the collective pride when we (as a city) are elevated to higher levels in culinary and beverage awards and accolades."

What have been the biggest changes in recent years?
"A lot has changed since I first entered this industry over ten years ago. Miami has always been a tourist destination, but for many people, that meant sipping Mojitos on the beach. When I was selling wine here in 2013/2014, it was very difficult. Most folks were not willing to try different and exciting new producers or regions. They wanted to stick with the big brands that they could sell to tourists, and that's it."

"Now, that has all changed. Miami is drinking more wine than ever, and we have a community that is supporting unique and uncommon regions, grapes, styles, techniques, producers, etc... It's probably one of the most exciting places to be for wine lovers. We've always had a rebel attitude here in the Magic City, and I think that carries over to our wine drinking. We aren't interested in following the trends of other big cities. In fact, we don't like being told what to do. We make our own trends and do things our own way here. And there is a lot of freedom and flexibility to be experimental without judgment."

"Another big change is education. WSET is very new to Florida in general. Thanks to Florida Wine Academy here in Miami, which opened in 2016, we now have access to all different levels of wine education and masterclasses, and that has inspired our community to learn and grow more professionally. I really credit Alessandra Esteves and Guilherme de Macedo, founders of Florida Wine Academy, with being the driving force in elevating the whole industry here. Remember, we aren't anywhere near a wine region, so wine education isn't automatic for us in South Florida. Alessandra and Guilherme made it accessible, and that was a game-changer for our local industry."

Contrary to what some may think because we are a U.S. city, our wine-loving crowd tends to lean toward European and South American wines

What are the emerging drinking trends you are seeing?
"Like in many places, we are seeing more desire to drink lower intervention wines, commonly referred to as "natural" wines. We have several restaurants and bars around town that have opened recently and focus on this style of wine. Sake is having quite a moment here in Miami. We are seeing more and more sake options on lists around town. This is pretty exciting! I also hear that people are embracing large-format bottles more than ever. We are a city that likes to show off a bit."

What wines, styles and regions are most in demand?
"We are a Champagne city! This probably goes back to our Cocaine Cowboy days at the Mutiny Hotel in Coconut Grove when all the top kingpins were drinking Dom Pérignon like water every night. Champagne is always in high demand - at restaurants, nightclubs, and retail. Big brands still reign, but we are seeing more of a discerning crowd asking for Grower Champagne and smaller houses."

"Contrary to what some may think because we are a U.S. city, our wine-loving crowd tends to lean toward European and South American wines. There is still a large demand for Bordeaux, especially older vintages, at the higher-end restaurants. Spain, Italy, France, Argentina, and Chile are all very popular. This makes sense considering we are a city of people from all over the world."

And for you, what is your go-to wine on a night off?
"I'm a bit of a Francophile if left to my own devices. For white wines, you'll likely find me sipping something from the Loire Valley, maybe a Muscadet or Savennières. For reds - I love the Grenache blends of the Southern Rhône and Languedoc. And you'll find me drinking Champagne at any given time."

"What wine region in the world do you think is the most interesting right now, and why?
"I'm excited by the white wines of Portugal at the moment. I think Arinto is highly underrated, and we should all be drinking more of it. I know Portugal is proud to share bold red wines, but I really think the whites need more attention. So many of these wines have great acidity and freshness. Perfect for our tropical heat here at home. I've been to Portugal three times over about 14 months, and I just can't get enough Arinto. But it's hard to find here in the U.S. Let's change that!"

Anything you want to add?
"I'm just proud to be a part of the Miami wine community. We have exciting, engaging, educated professionals leading our beverage programs, and our local industry deserves more attention. We're not just a tropical, Mojito-drinking party city anymore. And I'm honored to be able to share more about our expanding role as a leader in the international wine industry."

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