We had the good fortune of connecting with Kat René and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kat, what do you attribute your success to?
There are a two important factors that have contributed to the success of The Corkscrew Concierge. First, I did, and continue to do the work. I’ve spent hours and hours studying and learning about wine. And I’ve always been open to learning from others. I’ve been fortunate to learn from so many knowledgeable people that have been willing to share their experiences. Second, I’ve done my best to take the pretense out of wine. For too long, the “gatekeepers” wanted to control the narrative of wine and made it intimidating for so many. My practicality and approachability really speaks to people.Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am definitely two very different sides to the same coin. I’ve spent over twenty years as a corporate tax attorney, which let’s face it, isn’t always the most exciting thing. I’ve certainly been challenged and am extremely grateful for all the opportunities my career has provided. But the thing that drives me today, that keeps me at it, is representation. It’s important for me to set an example and represent black women because there aren’t many people that look like me that do what I do. That’s really the thing that keeps me going. That being said, I do have a retirement date from tax law in mind, which isn’t all that far away. Let’s just hope my children cooperate! This leads me to the other side of the coin. My life in the world of wine. I started my website, The Corkscrew Concierge as a way to share my thoughts about wine with others in a way that made it approachable. I had no idea what it would lead to. Just the mere exposure to wine made me want to go deeper. The next thing I knew, I found myself studying wine and earning certifications to cement my knowledge. After that, people began asking for hosted wine tastings and I found myself doing wine tastings for corporate groups, casual gatherings, as well as partnering with event companies. As writing is my first love, I also started contributing to other publications. Just before the pandemic locked everything down, I’d been asked to put together a hosted wine trip and that’s definitely something I’d like to add when things open back up. I never viewed myself as a “creative” by any stretch, but wine has certainly allowed me to tap into those creative genes. Of course, this is a skill I’ve really had to work at. I don’t consider myself a marketer or a social media personality (or even social for that matter) by any stretch, but some of that definitely comes with the territory. I’ve had to push past being an introvert or just hiding behind my computer and writing. I’ve had to put myself out there, which isn’t always comfortable. But it’s worth it if I get to share something I love with so many.Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh man! This is tough. Well, it would certainly be a wine-centric affair for sure. I don’t think people realize the extensive wine scene and engaging wine community that we have here in Houston. I may be biased (but I deal in facts) but I’d say it’s the best in the state. So since wine is my thing, we’d hit up some of my favorite wine bars including 13 Celsius, Vinology, Camerata, Montrose Cheese & Wine, Sonoma Wine Bar, and Trez Art & Wine Bar. I hate an unimaginative wine list with all large-scale, mass-produced wines so certainly steer clear of these places. Like wine, the Houston restaurant scene has certainly been underestimated – but people are learning and more national attention is being paid. When dining out, the wine list is always one of the things I consider even before going to a restaurant. Duh! Some of my favorite haunts that I would have to share include Brennan’s which has tasty Creole and Cajun food in addition to one of my favorite wine cellars in the city; Hugo’s and Xochi for their authentic Mexican (as opposed to Americanized Tex-Mex); Pappasito’s for the “Texas” version of Mexican aka Tex-Mex; The Boot for the best crawfish in the city; Pappas Bros Steakhouse because you must get a prime steak and have great wine with it; Rosie Cannonball for Italian and yes, the wine list is excellent; Pappas Delta Blues for BBQ – the sticky pork belly bites alone are worth the drive; Backstreet Café and Riel for a bit of Americana that they call “Globally Inspired Gulf Coast Cuisine” and Lucille’s for a taste of the South. Yes, this was hard because Houston is truly a dining mecca! After all that eating, we’d have the stretch our legs and head to Memorial Park to take in some nature. And if it’s baseball season, I always like to take people to Minute Maid Park. No matter how many times I’ve been, its still just such a cool stadium. For the museum set, I love the Museum of Natural Science in addition to Space Center Houston because if we didn’t then “Houston we’d definitely have a problem!” If friends are visiting in the spring, a visit to Rodeo Houston is a must. The shopping alone is worth the trip out. And depending on what’s playing, we’d definitely have to take in a show in the theater district whether it’s a play at the Alley Theatre, a musical at the Hobby Center, the opera at the Wortham Theatre or the symphony at Jones Hall. I’m also a fan of the Ensemble Theatre which highlights African-American theatre. I’ve been a theatre buff since a teacher introduced me to it in 10th grade and always enjoy going out for a show. Houston has the 2nd or 3rd largest (depending on who you ask) theatre district in the country. Whew!Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my husband, who I often refer to as “Mr. Cokrscrew.” He encourages me, tolerates my crazy, and is always OK with a delayed meal while I take my usual 80 pictures or so!