Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Tituss Burgess Unveils His New Line of Wines: ‘I’ll Be Your Pretend Sommelier’
Tituss Burgess is one of us.
“My favorite situation is when there’s a glass of wine in my hand, wherever I am,” he tells PEOPLE.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star not only cherishes the act of drinking wine, but also its power to bring people together. This weekend at Pride in New York City, Burgess is unveiling two new wines — Pinot Pride and Rosé Pride — at three events (a brunch, a dinner, a party) all over the city.
The three-day “Taste of Tituss Pride” celebration has taken on a new significance in light of the mass shooting in Orlando on Sunday, which killed 49 people and injured countless more at Pulse, a gay nightclub. Burgess will be donating 100% of this weekend’s proceeds to victims and their families.
“What the world needs now is love. We are living in some very precarious times,” Burgess tells PEOPLE. “It would be nice for one day to not to even have these types of events or need to bring attention to the community because no one else will do it for us. Until that happens, any opportunity that I have to bring about awareness or a call for community, I’m going to do it.”
Burgess, who launched his first Pinot Noir in March as a playful nod to his performance of “Peeno Noir, an ode to black penis” on Kimmy Schmidt, flew to Santa Barbara to sample blends and choose the perfect ones for the new rosé and Pinot Noir.
“I’m no sommelier but I know good wine. I know what I would want to drink,” he says. “Wine is sort of an elitist sport. It’s a very tricky, small community to get into and have people to take you seriously. My goal is not to become a wine that is respected by the world’s top sommeliers. What I care about is community and the wine being a tool, a conduit for bringing people together.”
Despite his outsider status as a winemaker, the wines are delicious (and the cast of Kimmy Schmidt are huge fans, he says.) Pinot Pride is a California Pinot Noir with bright lychee, kola and red fruit notes and the Rosé Pride is a crisp and light 2015 California Rosé that has flavors of “garden-ripe strawberry, crunchy pear skin and morning dew kissing wet stone,” a statement reads.
The actor, who marinates his ribs in his pinot noir (which we need to try immediately), has seized the chance to leverage what could have been a one-off, novelty wine into something bigger.
“So much of what I do is inspired by and for the LGBTQ community and for everyone, but just, being a theater kid and wanting to do stuff that represents us in a positive light,” he says. “This is an opportunity to create something fun that can also serve as a symbol of unity.”
Both wines are now available online.
— Maria Yagoda, @mariayagoda