David Choi is taking wine appreciation to places it has never been before. Boasting more than a quarter million followers, this Millennial vintner is a TikTok phenomenon.
With a knack for storytelling and games, Choi shares with his peers the skill of making the best wine selections while remaining within budget. His TikTok posts also help to improve awareness for the art of pairing each bottle of choice with the right foods. Choi, who is President of Angel Falls Wines and Magna Carta Cellars in Napa Valley, California, said this opportunity to engage with others virally was born after he witnessed a knowledge gap within his demographic while on an assignment some time ago.
“I was shooting for some YouTube personalities for their show in New York and it came about after I took them into Astor Wines in NYC. Whenever I am in New York City that’s one of my favorite wine stores. I went in there and their eyes opened up and these are big food personalities. They had no idea about wine. This is a great wine store, but it’s not directed by like Cabs or Merlots. It is done by region. So, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you don’t even know where you’re going,” Choi said.
An attempt to explain the variations to the influencer, made Choi realize the potential his wealth of information shared in bite sized pieces could have on the market. “When I spoke to him off camera it wasn’t like they didn’t want to understand, they just thought it was going to be too much work.” His first decision was to broadcast his suggestions on another platform. “Instagram was great because you can visually show beautiful food, beautiful things, but the information and value that we could bring in there was really tough. You couldn’t speak about different things. It was more about a lifestyle that you were showing and that’s when I chose TikTok. You can speak about something that maybe completely foreign to an audience and it enables people to understand as long as you are relatable to them. As long as it was entertaining you are able to grab their attention that way and you’ll fill them with a lot of information more so than any other platform that is out there and still is today.”
For all the success that he has found as an entrepreneur and now a viral tastemaker, Choi said it was never his intent to carve a career in this industry. “I would like to say that it sort of found me in a sense. I grew up in humble beginnings we really didn’t drink a lot of wine. We usually only had it on special occasions. So, my oldest memories of wine were before I was able to drink, I was really smelling wine, you know the nuances of it, and we’d have wine when we’d go to a steakhouse for someone’s birthday. And it was always Bordeaux.”
Now, he is fully immersed and on a mission to transform his generation’s view one bottle at a time. Born in LA, Choi later returned to his roots in Northern California as a seasoned industry expert after honing his skills at the iconic location Pearson’s Wines & Spirits in Washington D.C. “I would have to say that my real training in wine started when I became part of that retail wine store. At that time, it was one of the oldest stores there. One the first stores that imported Bordeauxs and burgundies and they had quite a few critics that became pretty prominent later on that had started there as just wine salespeople,” he said.
Those early years spent in this setting laid the groundwork for Choi to now make interesting wine recommendations in his fun and unique style. “The store was just like being in a school. Once I went into the store it just felt different and unique. It was a real wine store for me not like a liquor store masquerading as a wine store and the team they knew just everything there was they had been there for 30 years they knew the ins and outs.”
It is interesting to note that Choi now owns that wine store – the oldest and largest in the United States. Now, as an importer, wholesaler, and winemaker, he is aware of the changes being made to the industry as conglomerates gain ownership of family-operated ventures. While it is concerning, Choi said, “for someone like myself it’s about the art of it still. I keep my volume small because I’m not going to take away from the quality of it. I will never sacrifice the quality for volume. If it’s a short vintage like in 2021 where it was more concentrated and coming off a fire year and everybody looking for grapes, it was a hard year and 2022 is looking to be the same way but for me it’s still the quality. It’s still the art of what I do,” he said.
For Choi, the evolution from once sitting down with a 200-page beverage guide to doing a wine themed TikTok today is revolutionary. He said, “it’s personal. It’s the age where we have grown into technology and how social media has changed how we consume information. We don’t consume it from the books anymore. It started with blogs online and now everything is consumed from social media platforms with our phones.
“For me it was learning that this is how the next generation of wine drinkers were consuming information and for me to make it in a way that they would understand in 15 to 30 to 45 seconds, and getting straight to the point not using all the big words and fluff that that turn people off,” Choi concluded. “It’s growing. TikTok is here now. We don’t know what’s coming tomorrow but this is the way that that information is going to be consumed, even for my kids.”
Follow David Choi’s wine TikTok at https://www.tiktok.com/@winewithdavid?lang=en