1. Did you have a wine tasting epiphany or was it a vocation that developed over time?
My parents were fond of saying that I learnt about wine 'at their expense', as my film producer father had the great good sense to buy the Rank Organisation's cellar for a song in the '60s. Film folk adore swanky labels, so it was a childhood spent guzzling first growth claret, Domaine de la Romanée Conti burgundy and Château d'Yquem. It's been down hill ever since...
2. How do you retain your freshness and enthusiasm with a frequent and long-running column?
Goodness, wine is such a glorious subject, with new vintages, new winemakers and new regions popping up all the time, that I get ridiculously over-excited with each new discovery. Hopefully, my readers do too.
3. Has your palate developed with experience?
Yes, I think so. Back when I was a baby wine writer, wines with heft, masses of alcohol and oak probably made more of an impression, nowadays, it's a case of less is more.
4. Do you have any favourite styles or types of wine?
No, I love the lot! However, having written a book on champagne and sparkling wines, that involved a magical spring and summer tasting thousands of bottles, I confess to a weakness for fizz.
5. Are there any wines you actively dislike or try to avoid writing about?
Hate most prosecco, plus ersatz sticky blush wines and their ilk. The relationship between price and quality is all-important, so a particular bugbear is what I call the big name, little wine brigade: heavyweight bottles of turbo-charged, yet achingly ordinary wines, with risible names, that sell at hugely inflated prices. Unfortunately, there are dozens of them...
6. Do you have a favourite wine and food pairing or memorable moment when a wine elevated a dish?
I enjoy cooking, so too many happy wine and food marriages to mention here but picpoul and oysters eaten at a pop-up bistro on market day at Lourmarin comes close. Ditto sipping several vintages of the Durrbach family's extraordinarily fine Domaine de Trévallon on a shady terrace at L'Oustau de Baumanière with a bunch of good friends after a wedding.
7. Where would you recommend for someone wishing to plan a holiday in a wine growing region?
Follow your nose! Some of the world's greatest wines come from dreary places but no one will be disappointed with the picture postcard scenery of Alsace, or walking up the handsome mountainous schists of St. Chinian.
8. Are there any up-and-coming wine regions that you are excited about?
Central and south east Europe is having a moment and Portugal still has stacks of untapped potential, with hundreds of indigenous grapes and areas waiting to be discovered, time for Yapp Bros to get stuck in?
9. Do you think that the impact of climate change can already be seen in classic wine regions in Europe?
Of course, Trump's a twit. Every European vintage sees grapes harvested earlier and earlier and with higher sugar levels. If we continue to ignore climate change, we're sunk.
10. What advice would you give to a college leaver hoping to pursue a career in wine journalism?
Tricky one, as the whole world wants to work in the media now. Start by reading everyone and everything, the WSET exams will help, ditto doing a shift in a wine shop.
The Times Wine Critic.