Sitting down with The Wine Lady, Jameelah Lewis, and Miriam, her best friend responsible for the start of The Wine Lady’s journey, September Set experienced more than a fine meal. We were served a master class on a few topics that we love, wine tasting, tips on making the next business move and the significance of having good friends in your corner.
Jameelah’s journey with wine began in college while out to dinner with her best friend, Miriam. When Jameelah ordered a glass of White Zinfandel, Miriam quickly said “no, we don’t drink that” and changed the order to a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. At that moment, her eyes opened wide and her palette unfolded to the world of wine. This is an illustration of Simon Sinek’s words, “there are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire.” (2009) Little did Jameelah know at that time, she would be destined to find value in being inspired and further inspiring others. Ultimately not only becoming a fan of Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,”, but a living testimony that would manifest great business moves.
In practice, great business moves are grounded in values and principles. Understanding that, Jameelah shares that entrepreneurs must first find out their why: why are they creating the business and then ALWAYS go back to that to keep them focused. She also believes, “if it doesn’t work, don’t force it”. And, “it is very important to become an expert at what you do. It doesn’t mean education only but experience, listening to wisdom and education”, says Jameelah. From the moment she tasted the glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, wuth Miriam, Jameelah knew she needed to study what she fell in loved with: wine. Her new-found appreciation led her on a journey that resulted in a WSET III (Wine Spirit and Educational Trust) certification and business, Uncorked DC, which “aspires to create a confident culture surrounding wine, that is encouraging and relatable.” All of this began with the question: “why?”
“Wine is an experience for each individual person,” says Jameelah. A journey that she loves to experience and provide for others to experience. Lewis shared a bit of her expertise for September Set all the while testing the knowledge of the very skilled waiter attending to our table, whom was not only up to the task but welcomed it. She took us on an interactive journey that began with recommendations on food pairings and encouragement to imbibe plenty of water. “Wine loves water” says Lewis, who emphasizes that it is good to drink both water and wine while tasting. If you are dehydrated, there is a challenge in tasting wine well, Lewis explains. During the cheerful experience, we got a view of cabs from California, bubbly (GRUET) from New Mexico, Champagne and Rosé from France, as well as the world of sparkling reds. This was a “wine journey” - in Jameelah’s words - so vibrant and comprehensive we felt like we traveled via a jet plane to each region that evening while tasting and talking. Best described with a single word: amazing!
When asking Jameelah, how she is able to provide such an amazing experience, she goes on to discuss self-care and support of loved ones. “Taking the time for self, first is important,” says Jameelah. “What do they tell you on airplanes?!”, says Jameelah as she emphasizes self-care. “Take care of yourself first”. Putting her words into action, Lewis goes on to illustrate her routine of prayer and meditation twice daily. The truth is that her ideas and motivation come through this practice. Jameelah is grateful for her relationship with God and the support of close friends like Miriam, who has been there for it all, from the beginnings of Uncorked to the birth of her children. She is honest about the significance of recognizing the support of good friends. After all, if it weren’t for the challenge that Miriam posed years ago at the dinner table, the spirit of The Wine Lady may have never come to life. September Set is grateful to Jameelah, who’s expertise, skill and warm heart provides an experience that teaches us lessons that can be applied to our daily walk in life. With our glasses in hand we toast to Jameelah Lewis and enthusiastically exclaim her mantra, “Be kind to your wine!”
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