The Whet Palette

Miami Luxury Food Blog & Podcast

SOMM LIKE IT HOT: Featuring Micah Winecoff

We already know Miami is a hot zone for craft cocktails and beer. Know what else is happening? The wine scene! Follow along as I continue this new blog section featuring some of South Florida’s buzziest movers and shakers swirlers, sniffers, and tasters. Bookmark this page and check back often for updates.

Born in Creston, North Carolina, Micah went to college at Appalachian State University where he received two bachelor’s degrees (Physical Education and Health Promotion). After years of working in the industry at home, South Florida’s year-round sunny weather and the opportunity to work at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo lured him down.

DSC_0314-2Port O’ Call: Wine & Spirits Education Manager

What is the most rewarding part of your job? Introducing our members and guests to new wines that they love.

Any industry pet peeves? Snooty somms

What sparked your interest in wine? I’m a nerd and enjoy drinking so geeking out about wine during the day then drinking it at night was a natural fit.  There is always so much more to learn and taste.

What certification/education do you have as a sommelier? Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier, Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 3, Certified Specialist of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators

What does it take to learn to sniff and taste wine properly? Put simply, lots of practice, as with other skills in life.  Really just paying more attention to what I am smelling and tasting and developing a vocabulary to accurately describe those qualities to guests.

What is a common wine myth you’d like dispelled? That sulfites are the culprit of hangovers.  While it’s true that some wines have a significant amount of sulfites, that isn’t typically the cause of headaches.  The average bottle of wine has less than canned fruit/vegetables and many other common products.

Where would you steer a person wanting to learn more about wine? The list of good books and websites out there are endless.  A great website to start is  The site is easy to navigate and very appealing visually (they also have a book out as well).  The book that has been the gold standard for years is Kevin Zraly’s “Windows on the World”.  Another great source is a trusted local sommelier or wine shop.

What is a good starter wine? Any wine you find enjoyable!  A few that are usually easy to break people in are California Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio from Italy.  Most California Pinot Noir is light and silky with some nice red fruit and floral characteristics that appeal to the typical palate.  For someone that really likes cola or sweet tea a lot of red blends from California are appealing as well.  Pinot Grigio from Italy tends to be pretty neutral, kind of like the vodka of wines.  Not a lot to love or hate but it does the trick.

How do you feel about the current Miami wine scene overall? Hard to comment since I work in the Keys.  I think overall, South Florida could do a better job of supporting each other and improving the industry as a whole.

What do you wish every diner knew when ordering wine at a restaurant? That once a vintage is gone its most likely gone.  I get people all the time that only want a particular vintage of a wine…it’s an agricultural product so once all the 2012 has been sold it’s impossible to get more of.

What wine trend do you think needs to go away? None.  I want everyone to enjoy wine, and over time most people’s palates evolve.  If anything I would suggest people don’t stick to just one wine…there is a whole world out there to explore.

DSC_0311-2What is on its way to becoming a trend in 2019? More wine being incorporated into cocktails.  I’ve been to a few cocktail bars in Miami that are starting to incorporate wine into cocktails that are delicious.

How do you feel about films like SOMM 3 and their influence on increasing the number of those seeking to become certified?
 Hopefully, it continues to build the community and encourage restaurant and beverage professionals to further their education and knowledge, improving the industry as a whole.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully still working at Ocean Reef Club with an MS after my name.

Are you preparing for or hoping to take another certification exam any time soon? How intensely do you prepare for such exams? In the beginning stages of preparing for the Court of Master Sommeliers Master Sommelier Exam.  Intensely…I try and devote 2-4 hours a day outside of work to study time

What would customers be surprised to learn about you? I used to teach kindergarten…and as a kid I had an opossum for a pet.

Anything else you feel is important to add? Wine is delicious, find what you like and use that as a base to guide you into exploring new grapes and regions…and don’t let anyone ever tell you a wine you like isn’t good.  If you like it, then its good (not necessarily well made) but everyone’s palate is unique.

Port O’ Call Wine & Spirits

Ocean Reef Club



%d bloggers like this: