How To Be a Wine Expert in 60 Minutes

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Owners Diane and Christopher Riley and Master Sommelier Randa Warren.

When you’re trying to think of something new to do that’s fun, educational and original, your first thought may not be the liquor store. But, once you step into Riley’s Wine and Spirits, it may very well be the new place on your bucket list for a fun evening out.

Though Christopher and Diane Riley are new owners, the store itself has been around for more than 50 years. Both Christopher and Diane are committed to not only keeping the same level of expertise and customer service, but they intend to make the store a destination for all things wine and specialty liquors.

The first event, scheduled for November 8 from 5-7 will be a wine tasting and book signing. Former owner, Randa Warren, a master sommelier, will be there to discuss her newest venture, “60-Minute Wine Expert: Taste Wine the Master’s Way”. The book demystifies wine and breaks it down with tasting exercises, humor and a Q&A section for everything you wanted to know about wine, but were too scared to ask. “Wine should not be snobby or intimidating,” explains Randa. “This book is basically everything I have learned about wine through study, tastings and experience.”

Besides the book, Randa herself is a draw. She is only one of 249 Master Sommeliers and one of only 25 females with the distinction. Not only that, but she is the only woman with the honor in Oklahoma. Most of her life has been spent as an Oklahoman, but she’s literally traveled the world learning about wine. It was very important when she decided to sell the store to leave it in the hands of owners who would take care of her customers with the same passion. She spent a year mentoring Christopher and Diane before turning the keys over to them.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” says Diane. “We ended up opening this store around the same time we opened Riley’s Wine & Spirits in the Boxyard, located downtown.” Diane, who is an artist, also has spent time in the industry. “I was a wine rep in Colorado and learned a lot about it then. After attending the Aspen Wine Fest, it became a passion for me to learn more about wine, champagne and spirits” Christopher, a musician by trade, is excited to plan events in the stores, complete with live music of course. “Our November 8 event with Randa will not only include great wines from Kermit Lynch and Putnam Wines distributors, but we’ve got live music lined up for the event with a band called Basically Sax,” exclaims Christopher.

Diane thinks of wine much like she does her art. “To me, each bottle is like a piece of art, meant to be appreciated and savored.” Besides planning a big event with Master Sommelier Randa Warren, both Christopher and Diane are looking forward to contributing to the community. They are currently in the midst of helping with The Tasting at Woodward Park, which has been a Tulsa tradition for years. “We are passionate about Tulsa and giving back to the city that has given us so much,” boasts Diane. Diane and Christopher also plan to assist fund raising for their favorite philanthropies, including Animal Aid and various children and vet-related causes.

Riley’s has always been known for its customer service, but what really puts the stores on the map is its selection of boutique wines and allocation wines, not to mention best-selling wines, spirits and beers. “Now that the liquor laws in Oklahoma have changed, we look forward to carrying merchandise, including Randa’s new book,” explains Diane. Also new to the store will be a refrigerated section, which also changed with the new laws.

“Christopher and I are looking forward to maintaining relationships with current customers and building new ones. We will get to know your tastes and go to any ends possible to get whatever it is you need,” says Diane.

For more information on the November 8 book signing event, call Riley’s at 918-960-3008.

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