1. Did you gradually develop an interest in wine or was there a stand alone experience that sparked your enthusiasm?
I enjoyed drinking wine casually in my early twenties but I didn't catch the wine bug until I took my WSET Level 3 in New York in 2018. I participated in a brilliant tasting group, fell in love with the trendy New York wine scene and visited Napa, Sonoma and the vineyards in Long Island, NY.
2. Why do you think London is such an important hub for the international wine scene?
I suppose because the UK wasn't historically a wine producing country we have had a long tradition of importing wines from so many regions. London has always been a very international city that is home to and celebrates people, cultures, cuisines and wines from all over world - I feel lucky to have so much choice.
3. Did you have access to interesting wines during lockdown and was there anything you tasted that really captured your attention?
I have been able to continue my digital work activities and join in a number of online tastings during lockdown. I'm not just saying this but one of my standout wines was the red 2016 Domaine de Montcalmes from Terrasses de Larzac in the Languedoc I tasted from Yapp Brothers. It was my first time tasting a red from this particular Languedoc appellation and really highlighted how elegant, characterful and well-made Languedoc reds can be. I love a beautifully crafted GSM blend.
4. Who or what have been the biggest influences in your career in wine to date?
I would have to say the sommelier team at 67 Pall Mall. I joined 67 as my interest in wine took off and they have been hugely supportive and great mentors. Jim Gore of Global Wine Academy has also been a super educational mentor - he's really honed my tasting skills - and been a great supporter of my work as digital wine communicator and presenter.
5. Can you tell us an interesting wine and food pairing from your travels?
For dinner, I tend to go for red wine over white wine and prefer fish dishes over meat dishes - but pairing red wine with fish is challenging! A meal that really sticks out for acing red wine and fish was last year in the Southern Rhône, at a brilliant wine restaurant called Vin Ensen in the tiny village of Caromb. We tucked into a bottle of 2009 Chateau des Tours Vacqueyras (Grenache-dominant blend) with a gorgeous, mildly-spiced, slightly earthy red mullet dish. The two worked in perfect harmony, and it was my favourite red wine and fish experience to date.
6. Which wine producing region is on the top of your lists to visit and why?
Sicily! I'm desperate to go. For so many reasons - the history, the culture, the natural beauty, the food, the grand Mount Etna and of course the unique, characterful and mineral-driven wines. Maybe in 2021...
7. Is there a type or style of wine that you think is underrated?
It took me a while to find a Grenache I loved, but now I'm totally addicted to light, mineral, pinot noir-like styles of Grenache. I'm also a huge sherry fan. It's the ultimate food wine, with different styles to take you through every course!
8. Are there any places you would recommend to a wine enthusiast visiting London for the first time?
Explore London's trendy wine bars and restaurants like: 40 Maltby Street, Sager + Wilde, Terroirs and Elliot's. The wine shop Hedonism is a must-visit. It's pricey, but brilliant for window shopping - they have everything. Their wall of back-vintages of Chateau d'Yquem looks like it belongs in the Saatchi gallery!
9. What has been your stand out wine tasting experience?
This is a hard question! I've been on grand wine tours and tastings in immaculate chateaux to tiny tastings in small and rustic cellars and really appreciate the full spectrum of experiences. Three standout experiences from 2019 were: having my birthday with some dear friends from New York at Billecart-Salmon with an epic tour and tasting of their vintage and non-vintage champagnes, an intimate tasting with the legendary Monsieur Clape in his cellar in Cornas in the Northern Rhône, and an impromptu tasting with Anselme Selosse in Avize of his base wines used in his stunning champagnes.
10. What tips would you give a school leaver hoping to pursue a career in wine?
Taste, taste, taste! Get a coravin - great for studying and cost-saving so you don't have to open a full bottle straight away. The initial outlay is worth it in the long run – trust me!