In our latest Meet The Members interview, it’s a chance to get to know the man who created and runs this Community, and find out what he does when he’s not keeping us entertained here, from ballroom dancing to avoiding cheese in all forms.
Meet the Member: @robert_mcintosh
As usual, we ask a short set of standard questions (in this case, including a bit about Robert’s work for The Society!), plus some ‘fun’ questions that give us an insight into them particularly.
We’d love to hear from all of you at some point, and we will be in touch, but if you have a burning desire to introduce yourself, please send Rob or me a message to let us know.
These interviews are a lovely opportunity to say hello and have a chat with one of our members, and this is no different, so we’d love to hear your comments/responses to Robert’s answers.
1. Tell us very briefly about yourself, and what fills your average day?
I’m a family man and a social web addict. I’m usually doing something for the kids – usually involving music practice, sports training, cooking, or maybe homework support (my son is in primary school and has produced some wonderful poetry, and my daughter in secondary school creates wonderful art as well as enjoying languages and sciences), or maybe being ‘wingman’ on my son’s current PS4 game. I enjoy cooking and so share the job with my wife so we can relax at the end of the day over a meal with nice wine, then watching some series or other on Netflix.
I fill most of the rest of my days with socialising for work and pleasure on social media and communities. I’ve worked with communities of like-minded people for several decades so find myself involved in lots of conversations, but I genuinely really love it, so am fairly attached to my laptop and smartphone.
2. How long have you worked for The Society, what do you do, and what’s your favourite part of the job?
I’ve worked for the Society for almost 2 years now. I was hired to help to create and launch The Society’s Community, so I’ve spent the time getting to know the business and staff as well as the members to try and find the right way to express the sense of community that already exists in the Society, and bring it to life online.
I read EVERYTHING in the community and try to put it in a context that helps me find new and more interesting ways to add value to members’ lives. The best part has to be when you connect two or more members who didn’t know each other who discover a common interest and start to share ideas. If they’re happy, I’m happy!
3. What’s your food heaven/food hell, and what’s your wine heaven/wine hell?
Food Hell is easy for me. I hate pretty much all cheese, and I really dislike the taste of sweet and savoury together, such as fruit in salads or curries. I cannot deal with either of them.
Food Heaven … is harder. I guess the simplest answer is that my favourite dish is Saltimbocca alla Romana – I just love the combination of flavours, particularly the fresh sage.
I’m less fussy with wine. I do not want to waste my limited alcohol credits (your body can only deal with so much alcohol over a lifetime) so concentrate on tasting a variety of interesting, but affordable wines. I love exploring, but do not really care for collecting experiences based solely on price.
4. If you had to list your major NON WINE-RELATED hobby, what would that be?
My current favourite hobbies are singing in a local choir, and ballroom dancing.
I signed up to help my daughter’s school choir who were looking for adults (parents, alumni and teachers) to join their massed choir to sing Faure’s Requiem. I hadn’t sung for 30 years, so it was a major stretch, but I enjoyed it so I am committed again this year for Handel’s Messiah, but I’ve also joined a community choir where we get to sing more fun stuff, like Friday I’m in Love, or Tender.
Some years ago I “gave” my wife a birthday present which was a commitment that I would take part in ballroom dancing lessons. 6+ years later we have learned the basics and are still doing some dancing. It is fun and social – and nothing at all like Strictly!
5. What was the last gift that you gave someone (that YOU chose and bought)?
My wife is a runner, so I heard that bamboo-based materials are the latest thing in lightweight but warm materials for cold-weather activity, so I bought her some. Of course, as a well-meaning but lightly informed husband, I got the wrong size (but did organise the replacement).
6. Tell us something that you’ve done that you are pretty sure no-one else in the community has done (yet)?
In 2008 (I think, maybe 2009), there was this new thing called ‘Twitter’ that everybody was talking about, so much so that I found myself invited onto a lunchtime news programme called “Working Lunch” where Declan Curry interviewed me, with some incredulity I have to say, about the idea of “running wine tastings on Twitter”. How times have changed
7. If you could move to any wine region, which would it be and why?
I did, once. I moved to Rioja for a couple of months as I was working there, so I brought the family as my wife was on maternity leave and we could be together. However, if I had to choose today (for wine reasons, not for the realities of doing business there), it might be somewhere with less commercial focus and strict rules, allowing for more relaxed and casual innovation. Maybe somewhere in Portugal (the people are lovely), or maybe the Adriatic (Slovenia / Croatia) – though as I’m following the exploits of Jo Aherne MW who has done just that, I’m probably being influenced!
8. What’s the most unusual wine you’ve ever tried?
I’ve tried all sorts I guess, but the most unexpected styles were probably in Georgia (the country) – with tannic reds & skin-contact whites as well as their semi-sweet reds. Not all were great experiences, but they were ‘unusual’.
In terms of fond memories, there are the traditional wines of Istria in Croatia, and particularly the lovely Mavlasija Istriana.
9. At your niece’s 18th birthday party, she asks you for advice on learning about wine. What advice do you give her?
Before taking a course on wine tasting, take a course on Mindfulness … with the specific goal of applying this to what you will learn about wine.
Learning about wine (the tasting and personal experience part) is primarily about teaching yourself to be “in the moment” with that experience, to focus on the look, the smell and the taste – not the price and the ingredients. Once you have taught yourself to experience the wine, then you can ask others about how that experience is created, and learn about grapes, regions and vinification. Don’t make it about creating a catalogue of wine identified and consumed. Think of your wine enjoyment like an artform that you are mastering because you love it.
Oh, and join The Wine Society to buy some great wines