How Dr Clinton Lee Went Viral for Teaching Wine and Etiquette Online
March 01, 2023
How to hold your wine glass, use your cutlery accordingly at a high-dinning setting, when and how to greet guests, and how to respectively dine are questions Dr. Clinton Lee is ready to answer to his millions of fans worldwide online.
The South-African-born, Chinese international wine speaker and author has matured a following of Gen Z-centric Instagram and TikTok for capturing the importance of etiquette and acute wine knowledge for an international winer and diner.
Dr. Lee earned his doctoral honour in his program focusing on cultural diversity in 1995, which led him to study manners and dining protocols, central to his career.
“Etiquette awareness was a natural and gradual process for me as I grew up, soaking in all the cultures I was exposed to from European, African, and Asian influences,” Dr. Lee told The Beat Asia.
The profound author and viral online figure founded the Asia Pacific Wine and Spirit Institute (APWASI), a non-profit Vancouver-based organisation teaching online classes worldwide about the wine and spirit industry, in what he calls “fate, destiny and certainly circumstances.”
“I grew up in a world where cultures and people were treated unequally, and discrimination was the norm. It is my belief that every culture has a positive contribution to the global society. Unfortunately, inequality and discrimination are very much alive, and at APWASI we are not only sharing knowledge, but also want to contribute towards a better society.”
In 2022, Dr. Lee reached new heights in his cultural teachings of wine sampling and fine-dining etiquette, reaching stardom online as an uncharacteristic posh influencer on video sharing platforms. He struck a stark chord with his down-to-earth teachings on platforms where mukbang-overconsumption and alcohol-overdrinking is popularised.
With videos sharing the importance of when to introduce yourself in a social setting, how to hold a glass of red wine, shaking and greeting lady-friends, leaving gracefully from a party, how to speak to seniors, Dr. Lee quotes “responsibility” when asked on his reaction to his meteoric rise online.
“In just over a year, because of the great team I have and their dedicated and hard work and efforts, my videos have been featured internationally in the media. I am especially humbled that I am recognised as a social media influencer with over two million followers on several platforms.”
“Our loyal and growing fan base hungers to learn practical and appropriate etiquette for improving themselves and uplifting their social skills. Most of all, I appreciate the interaction, responses, comments and reviews we receive.”
“Through my videos, we want to: create videos that contribute towards a harmonious and peaceful society; empower people to be confident in unfamiliar cultural and work situations; and continue learning from our followers.”
In our modern world, Dr. Lee argues that etiquette is important, not only in a dining setting, but also in living harmoniously in our world of 8 billion people, where living among different cultures requires levelled respect, patience and understanding. In its absence, the wine master says chaos ensues, and misunderstandings and misinterpretations flourish when rudeness prevails.
“Etiquette is now even more important because it is the bridge and common language between different cultures and generations. Unquestionably, etiquette plays an important role in not only today’s global society, but also for future generations.”
His TikToks, YouTube videos and Instagram Reels, shared on APWASI platforms, keeping wine central to his online teachings of bettering one self's manners at the dinner table and beyond.
“Possessing wine knowledge opens an unlimited selection of choices, wines, and skills where you can begin to squeeze out the history from that bottle you are enjoying. By knowing the grape varietal they use, where the winery is located, and the weather in that vintage, you can decipher the code.”
“Without a doubt, when you are in business, social and professional circles, wine knowledge is a great icebreaker and often a common denominator for a discussion topic. Naturally, armed with a firm knowledge of your tasting skills improve.”
Entering 2023 to continue the successful journey Dr. Lee has enjoyed thus far online, he is resolute to continue sharing on his hosted Wine Buzz podcast and through well-communicated videos.
The advice Dr. Lee has for entering his path of wine knowledge and appreciation? “Walk and approach your adventure into the world of wine as a privilege, be open to ideas, possess curiosity, learn about all aspects of the trade and profession.”
“Be respectful and humble in the presence of greatness, be it person or wine. Once you have experienced all aspects from the vineyard to winemaking and then the selling process, only then can you decide which area of the wine world truly suits."
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