Kwanzaa Culinarians

Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora

African-American Owned Wine Labels: Brian Duncan’s Bin 36

Brian Duncan

At Bin 36, the wine flows freely, the staff is friendly and well educated about wine, and the food is deliciously complimented by wine and vice versa.  This all culminates into a lively wine bar and restaurant filled with happy patrons.  The experience is curated by Brian Duncan, Wine Director and co-owner of Bin 36, who along with his two business partners brought a new concept of wine and food to Chicago in 1999.  Bin 36 successfully integrates wine bar and restaurant, offering 12 different wine flights and 48 wines by the glass to compliment Chef John Caputo’s culinary creations.  Brian’s passion has always been to connect wine with consumers.  This may seem obvious for a wine bar, but few are as successful at creating an environment where wine is fun rather than intimidating and patrons are given helpful descriptors and even a taste of the wines before making a selection, than Bin 36.

Bin 36 Wines

Brian has taken his task further by creating his own wine label, Bin 36 Wines, for which he makes wines that consumers enjoy—wines that are easy drinking, pair well with food, and drink above their price point: the trifecta of connecting wine with consumers.  Brian now produces 7 different wines under the Bin 36 label in addition to a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay produced under the D&S label with his partner, Dan Sachs.  Having tasted 8 of the 9 wines made by Brian, I can attest to the passion and expression of personality that he puts into his wines.  His wines are at once bold and subtle, stars and extras that drink as well alone as they do with food.  This too could describe Brian, a star in the wine world who wants to be seen by his patrons as merely an extra.

Bin 36 Crowd

Brian sees himself as a vessel delivering the promise of Bin 36’s motto “Drink wine. Live well. Have fun.”  His job is to help the consumer find a wine that they enjoy and liberate them from the barriers that have traditionally existed in the wine industry.  In fact, Brian avoids referring to himself as a Sommelier and made a conscious choice not to go through the certification process because he believes that it would add to consumers’ intimidation of wine, placing him in an authoritative position.  Instead, he simplified the wine bar experience, offering generous tastings, making it easy for people to order wine that they cannot pronounce by the bin number, and adding helpful descriptors to all of the wines on the list.  Bin 36 also ensures that their staff is highly knowledgeable and regularly offers wine education classes.   Next time you are in Chicago, stop by Bin 36 for a wine flight or purchase a bottle of Bin 36 wine on location or from their website.

BedVyne Wine (an African American owned wine shop located in Brooklyn) is giving away a third bottle of wine and a tote bag to one randomly selected reader who “LIKES” The Cork Chronicles on Facebook and leaves a comment below.

Bed-Vyne.comA boutique wine shop in the heart of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. We offer a large selection of carefully curated wines from all over the globe. Our wines are arranged by taste, not by region, so our customers are able to enjoy wines from many regions that will fit their palette. Cheers!

CONTEST DETAILS: Contest starts Wed., Dec. 21, 2011 and ends Mon., Dec. 26 at 10 p.m./PST. Winner announced on Wed., Dec. 28th. Contest open to residents of the continental United States, excluding Alaska,  Hawaii and U.S. foreign territories over age 21. No additional purchase or shipping expenses are necessary. Prize cannot be exchanged. If wine shipping is restricted in your state, you may be ineligible to win.  Must provide an email  used only to notify the winner and for shipping information.

About Janelle Carter

Janelle is the Founder and Editor of The Cork Chronicles, a wine blog engaging wine novices and connoisseaurs alike with wine reviews and tales of her personal wine tasting experiences. She is a sought after wine writer and educator. Please contact her on Twitter @corkchronicler or via email at

6 comments on “African-American Owned Wine Labels: Brian Duncan’s Bin 36

  1. Pingback: The Cork Chronicles » Blog Archive » Celebrating Kwanzaa and African-American Vintners

  2. Maisie
    December 29, 2011

    The food here is fabulous! The wine is even better. But to have Brian sit at your table and share the meal with you is priceless. If you’re ever in Chicago, stop by Bin 36. It’s one of our city’s culinary treasures.


  3. Cultural Affairs
    December 26, 2011

    Just found out about Bin 36 and BedVyne Wine from following Kwanzaculinarians on Twitter. As a wine drinker, I am always looking to discover African American owners in this line if business since we are far and few. I hope to check out the shop the next time I’m in the Brooklyn area


  4. Coco Cooks
    December 21, 2011

    I love Brian. I used to work at Bin 36 and Bin Wine Cafe. He taught me so much about wine over the years. I’m so proud of him and his label.


    December 21, 2011

    Oh wow! I first learned of Bin36 a loooong time ago and fell in love with the labels, the decor, the spirit (first through the web, mind you), and never realized it was black owned! So good to know!! So great to learn of BedVyne Wine as well!!


    • Sanura Weathers
      January 10, 2012

      Dear Eailtla Altliae,

      Congratulations! You are the winner of a free totebag and bottle of wine from Bed-Vyne Wine in Brooklyn, New York. When you have a chance, please forward your name and address to sanura at myliferunsonfood {dot} com.

      Sanura Weathers


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Learn more about Kwanzaa

The word "Kwanzaa" comes from the phrase, "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first-fruits." Kwanzaa's extra "a" evolved as a result of a particular history of the Organization Us. It was clone as an expression of African values in order to inspire the creativity of our children. In the early days of Us, there were seven children who each wanted to represent a letter of Kwanzaa. Since kwanza (first) has only six letters, we added an extra "a" to make it seven, thus creating "Kwanzaa." To learn more about Kwanzaa, visit the Official Kwanzaa Website.

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