January 1, 2021
Conscious Sipping and Community with Karina Iglesias & Veronica Slabicki
In this interview I sit down with Karina Iglesias and Veronica Slabicki to talk all things natural wine, community, and conscious sipping.
Natural wine is made with organically or biodynamically farmed grapes with no pesticides on the farm and nothing added in the cellar, except maybe a little bit of sulfur at bottling. And for these ladies, fair treatment of the farm workers is another trait that constitutes a true natural wine as well.
Here’s how the story goes: I keep seeing Instagram stories about this cool-as-hell natural wine pop-up shop called Wine Medium in downtown where vinyl records are being played and laid-back vibes are the essence of the space. Naturally, I can’t (and don’t) resist the urge to check it out and I’m sure glad I did. I walked in with no expectations and walked out feeling more informed, empowered, and excited than I was before stepping into this magical little shop.
Karina Iglesias, the mind behind this natural wine shop and part-owner of NIU Kitchen and Arson (now one combined restaurant in the heart of Downtown Miami), gave me the run-down on every single bottle I asked about. And when I say the run-down, I mean she knows exactly where each one is from, who made them, and can even compare them to more commercial bottles of wine (that are very much not natural) for reference. So if you’re looking for Whispering Angel at her shop…well, she’ll tell you why you shouldn’t be drinking it, and what you should drink instead! Personally, I wanted something like La Crema or Meiomi…
What really took my interest over the top was Karina’s obvious passion for political matters and what happens behind the scenes of the wine industry –the wine may taste great, but what’s really happening on the farm? It’s all too true that within many commercial (read ‘big’) vineyards, the workers are essentially treated like slaves. Getting paid a salary that you could pick up on the streets and having to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the harmful chemicals being sprayed in the fields (read’ Whispering Angel’ and the like). Karina not only does intensive research into the nature of the wines she curates for her shop, but also how the workers are treated to make sure she only supports fair practices – meaning her customers do, too. It was after a couple of these kinds of conversations that I asked to interview her, and she brought along her good friend Veronica Slabicki, farm hand at Harpke Family Farm and sales rep for Arash Selects, a natural wine importing and distributing company.
If you’e looking for a couple of Miami’s best natural wine curators, look no further than these two rad ladies. As if their outfits in this interview don’t scream “cool” enough, the conversation I had with them made me want to make this sit-down a weekly thing. Here are the biggest takeaways from my conversation with them:
It’s Okay to Be Intimidated with Wine
One of their most prominent stances on the topic of wine drinking is that it’s okay to be intimidated when starting to get into the culture. Even ordering at a restaurant can seem like a daunting task to many.
Ever sat down at a nice restaurant with the family, maybe on a date, and instead of enjoying the moment you’re worrying about just how you’re going to order a glass of wine?
Should I ask for something dry? White or red? I think white wine is for fish, right? Maybe I’ll just get a rosé? What the hell is the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Merlot? How do you even pronounce that!?
Sound familiar? The truth is, you don’t need to be a wine snob to enjoy good wine. Both Iglesias and Slabicki mentioned the “growing pains” of drinking a lot of bad wine, seemingly good wine, and everything on that spectrum. Many times people are scared to order wine at restaurants because they don’t want to make it seem like they don’t know what they’re talking about. “Don’t be scared to ask questions. If they’re assholes then move along. But the best way to learn about wine is by tasting”, says Slabicki.