Here’s something to keep in mind when drinking an orange wine: They can get pretty funky.
That’s the warning that Fay (Grasie Mercedes) gave on the season finale of the NBC comedy series, “Grand Crew.” The moment marked the gang’s first time trying an orange wine.
It’s a fitting scene for the boisterous group who spent a season swirling, sniffing, and sipping together at their favorite wine bar. However, similar scenes — and many other wine-drinking moments that occurred on the show — didn’t come together without a bit of direction from someone who knew the unique nuances and spirited reactions a swig of orange wine could derive.
Devin Reed, a Los Angeles-based sommelier, was the one for that job.
Wine and television
Reed served as a consultant on Netflix’s “Uncorked” before becoming the resident wine expert for “Grand Crew.” He’s also hosted “Uninterrupted Wine Wednesday,” the weekly Instagram spin-off of LeBron James’ “The Shop: Uninterrupted” HBO show. Before that, Reed worked as the general manager at Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Beverly Hills.
Reed was tapped to help with all things wine for “Grand Crew” after being referred for the job by fellow sommelier and friend Tuanni Price, the founder of Zuri Wine Tasting.
Reed sat in on virtual production meetings and helped the team with the terminology, mannerisms, and subtleties associated with wine. He also ensured the crew stored bottles correctly. And when the script called for changes, Reed was the one advising show writers to use the word vintage instead of year.
“I’m from St. Louis. I didn’t grow up around anything like that. So to be on the set of a major television production was a really special experience,” Reed says, noting that it was especially gratifying to work on a show that centered on the wine and life experiences shared by Black people specifically.
Opening up to wine
Wine didn’t have a placement on his family’s dinner table. Sometimes, his parents would break out a bottle of André Brut Champagne during special occasions, but that was the extent of it. It wasn’t until Reed was on his own as an adult that he started to understand the reach of wine.
“Wally’s really opened my eyes to wine,” Reed says. “It was such a confusing thing when I first started that it made me want to learn more. I didn’t want to be the one in the room who knew the least. So I did everything I could to learn about wine.”
Efforts to learn about wine have landed Reed positions he couldn’t have imagined when he was younger. Following his role at Wally’s, Reed worked with the West Coast wine and spirits team at luxury company LVMH. He’s since launched his own business, 59Wines Rare Wine Concierge, a full-service concierge and consulting company that helps people source wine for their private cellars.
However, it’s explaining wine to everyday people through conversations with star athletes like Channing Fry, Will Blackmon, and Moe Harkless, among others, on “Uninterrupted” that really motivates Reed.
“I have the most fun when I’m teaching people about wine, helping them better understand their palates, the worth and value of some wines, and what their personal price point might be,” Reed says. “To be able to do that with these athletes I respect is the coolest thing.”
It’s not lost on Reed that he is one of a small few Black sommeliers in a position to introduce wine to people like him from similar backgrounds — whether it be through his work in television or educating others about wine in chats with NBA and NFL stars on social media.
“It is very important for me to be able to do this, and I don’t take it lightly. I know people are listening to me and listening to my recommendations. I try to be honest with people about wine. It’s so subjective. Everybody has different tastes. But it’s very cool to see the culture coming forward,” says Reed.
As for his palate, Reed put in a lot of work to understand what he likes too, and that’s a range of wine across all styles, regions, rarities, and prices. He shares a few bottles he often turns to when he’s winding down with an exciting watch on TV.
4 bottles to try:
La Fête du Rosé Côtes de Provence NV (~$24)
For a rosé that’s perfect for pool weather or plopping down on the couch, Reed grabs winemaker Donae Burston’s La Fete du Rosé, produced in Saint-Tropez in the South of France. “I love the twang that this Grenache-led blend gives to otherwise extremely light Provence rosés. The added body and light fruit flavors give it a nice pop,” Reed says.
Maison Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Côte de Beaune Grand Cru 2015 (~$199)
In life, there is balance, which, for Reed, means that he is just as likely to unwind with something inexpensive and straightforward as he is to opt for a bottle of wine as opulent and luxe as Maison Louis Latour’s Burgundian beauty Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. “Serving it nice and chilled will give you freshness on top of the complex apple pie and baking spice flavors,” Reed says. This is also the wine he recommends to clients who claim they aren’t into Chardonnay. “A high-quality white Burgundy will change all that,” Reed notes.
Daou Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (~$25)
“Right in the heart of Paso Robles, California, just north of Santa Barbara, is DAOU, one of my favorite wineries,” says Reed. Though he thinks the winery makes “absolutely phenomenal wine” across the board, he can’t get enough of the Cabernet Sauvignon. “This one is meant to be drunk young. It’s bursting with fruit and Bordeaux-like complexity and wrapped in a blanket of freshness and acidity,” Reed says, adding, “It’s hard to find another smashable, quality Cab at this price.”
Pol Roger Champagne Brut NV (~$55)
When Reed needs bubbles but doesn’t necessarily want to break the bank, he reaches for Pol Roger. “The layered, complex, brioche, toasty characters may make you feel like this is an older vintage Champagne, but these grapes usually only reach about four years old. And this wine still over-delivers. It’s always a favorite of mine,” Reed says.