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A Real Deal Big Mack: Vintner & Sommelier André Hueston Mack

Sommelier, Winemaker, Designer, Entrepreneur: André Hueston Mack has always had a flair for success. Recognized as one of the country’s top sommeliers and owner of his successful wine brand, Maison Noir, Mack has made his mark in the world of wine in a way few have: encyclopedic knowledge paired with an unbridled passion for championing quality wines through creative presentations.

Mack took the plunge in the world of wine in the early 2000s, leaving behind a career at Citicorp. He become a passionate student of wine, studying and seizing every opportunity to learn and taste. He spent his formative days in San Antonio, Texas, working as a sommelier at The Palm and head sommelier at Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood.

Andre
Photo by Stash Photography (www.maisonnoirwines.com)

At age 30 Mack was awarded the prestigious title of Best Young Sommelier in America by La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. He was the first African American sommelier to earn this honor. This recognition led his to a job as sommelier for Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Yountville, CA. He went to be become head sommelier at Per Se in New York City, where he oversaw a 1500-selection wine list and consulted with Chef Keller on menu and pairings.

Mack always had a dream to produce wines under his own label. In 2007 that dream became reality with the launch of Maison Noir Wines. Created in cooperation with select growers and winemakers in Oregon handpicked by Mack, the wines of Maison Noir are the end-product of Mack’s dedication to bring joy – and a bit of whimsy – to the world of wine. To that end, he oversees the production and also designs the labels and packaging with eye-popping black and white imagery and names like Oregogne Chardonnay & Pinot Noir, O.P.P. (Other People’s Pinot), P-Oui Pinot Noir, Bottoms Up White, and Horseshoes and Handgrenades, a red blend. Wines are available in both stores and restaurants and on his website at www.maisonnoirwines.com

 Horseshoes & Handgrenades is a fruit-driven, full-bodied complex red blend sourced from Southern Oregon (Syrah) and Red Mountain Washington State (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).

Horseshoes & Handgrenades is a fruit-driven, full-bodied complex red blend sourced from Southern Oregon (Syrah) and Red Mountain Washington State (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).

Mack also owns & Sons Ham Bar in In Brooklyn, NY. The intimate neighborhood ham bar celebrates the culture of American charcuterie, from cured sausages and country ham to pâtes, and features a small wine list of celebrated vintages from the 1960s-1990s. There is an adjacent retail outlet selling assorted hams and cheeses. www.andsonsnyc.com

A talented graphic designer, his line of tee shirts are inspired by -his description- “Wine Lifestyle/Street Culture” of the punk and hip-hop scenes, while reminiscent of independent skateboard company apparel of the 1990s.” He is author and designer of Small Thyme Cooks, a culinary activity coloring book whose sales benefit the Charlie Trotter Foundation, and the thoroughly enjoyable Mack memoir by bottle, 99 Bottles: A Black Sheep’s Guide to Life-Changing Wines (Harry Abrams)

99 bottles
Buy book here on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dg9hBa

“Black Sheep” is the nickname Mack’s Per Se colleagues gave him when he was still one of a few African American sommeliers in the industry. As we researched different meaning for this reference, we came to this conclusion: Mack is, indeed, a renegade and a rare breed: a man of integrity and individuality who has made an indelible mark in the world of wine despite all odds.

Listen here to our conversation with André Hueston Mack’s story on The Connected Table LIVE

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The Connected Table Live Oct. 22: Window on Kevin Zraly

Tune in October 22 for our featured guest and good friend, Kevin Zraly, internationally acclaimed wine educator and best-selling author of Kevin Zraly Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, with over 4 million copies sold.

Kevin Zraly
Kevin Zraly
Kevin Zraly has been described as a naturally gifted speaker who is both refreshingly humble and candid. His passion for wine and his engaging teaching style helps demystify the ever-changing world of wine. He began his career at age 19 as a waiter and bartender in a New York Times four star rated restaurant in the Hudson Valley, New York. In the years that followed, Kevin journeyed to vineyards in New York, California, and Europe learning his trade and developing his expertise as a sommelier.

After graduating college Kevin moved to New York City and a chance meeting with author Barbara Kafka and legendary restaurateur Joe Baum led to his hiring as the first cellar master and eventually wine director for the renowned Windows on the World restaurant atop One World Trade Center. Windows soon became the country’s top grossing restaurant and, with Kevin at the helm of its highly acclaimed wine list, sold more wine than any restaurant in the world. It was there that he established his Windows on the World Wine School now in its 39th year graduating more than 20,000 students ranging from wine novices and aficionados to top chefs and culinary professionals. Kevin worked at the Windows on the World Restaurant from the day it opened in 1976 until September 11, 2001.

With his first book, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course published in 1985 (an updated annually), Kevin began translating his classes onto the pages of books where his quick wit and capacity to communicate takes the reader through his worldwide journeys from grape to glass. He is also author of the first book that covers wineries and vineyards in all 50 states, Kevin Zraly’s American Wine Guide and The Ultimate Wine Companion, a compilation of 40 world-renowned wine writers.

His numerous awards and accolades include both the 2011 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award and 1993 Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year; the 2006 Wine Literary Award, the 2009 Wine Professional of the Year from Santé, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Wine Council, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Wine Educators.

He is has served as a member of the Culinary Institute of America’s Board of Trustees since 1990 and director of the Sherry-Lehmann/Kevin Zraly Master Wine Classes and the Sherry-Lehmann/Kevin Zraly Wine Club in New York City. He has been featured in The New York Times, People magazine, The Wall Street Journal, GQ magazine, Newsweek, and USA Today and co-hosted the Food Network’s Wine A to Z.

We will dedicate the full 50 minutes to Kevin and will open our chat room to take your questions. To participate, log on to: www.w4cy.com

Hosted by Melanie Young and David Ransom, the insatiably curious culinary industry couple,
The Connected Table Live airs Wednesdays, 2p.m.ET/11a.m. PT on www.w4cy.com. Podcasts are also available at www.iHeartRadio.com and everywhere the iHeartRadio app is available under the Shows & Personalities section.