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Meet the Members: Tom



Our latest interview is with a long-standing member of The Society who sounds like someone you’d definitely want to invite to your next dinner party to regale you with tales of adventure and daring do (not many of us can tick off multiple “things no other member has done” in one post) … so :

Meet the Member: @Tom

As usual, we ask a short set of standard questions, and get each interviewee to answer some ‘fun’ questions that give us an insight into them particularly.

I’d love to hear from as many members as possible at some point, and I will be in touch, but if you have a burning desire to introduce yourself, please send me a message to let me know.

Don’t forget to leave a comment at the end as it is always nice for the member who is willing to be open like this to know that others are reading their interviews.

Tell us very briefly about yourself, and what fills your average day

I’m a 6’5” Londoner who’s hurtling towards 40 despite all efforts to the contrary. I work as a Digital Manager for an African Foundation and spend most days updating their website/social media and working on other projects such as our crm and data portal. I’m married and we are expecting our first child in June. We bought our first house last Summer so these days most of my free evenings and weekends seem to be spent on diy and not putting my years of wine tasting to good use.

How long have you been a member of The Wine Society and what made you join?

According to this blog post I wrote a few years ago, 15 years. I’m not entirely sure as I don’t know where my member pack is, but it was a present from my parents, who are also members (my grandparents were, too. As are, now, the rest of the family!)

What would you say is your favourite wine style or region, and what do you pair it with?

My wine palate is a very broad church; food, occasion, weather and mood all alter my likes and dislikes regularly and I love constantly discovering new styles. However I am particularly fond of full-flavoured, savoury reds so the Rhône and Languedoc are areas I come back to time and time again. I’m also a big fan of Italian wines and, if forced to name on wine style to be my favourite, I’d choose Brunello di Montalcino. Gorgeous, cherry-scented wines with bags of flavour. Any red meat will do I suppose, perhaps some beef olives.

If you had to list your major NON WINE-RELATED hobby, what would that be?

I’m a huge fan of tabletop boardgames, and help run the largest club in the world, London on Board. I probably spend most of my online time at boardgamegeek.com. Thankfully these are two hobbies that can sit together perfectly happily.

What was the last gift that you gave someone (that YOU chose and bought)?

It’s was my anniversary recently, so I bought a new bed linen set for my wife (well and me) – you can guess the years :wink:

Tell us something that you’ve done that you are pretty sure no-one else in the community has done (yet)?

That’s a tough one. Whipped by a naked, ex- Soviet Olympic wrestler? Climbed an active volcano and toasted the event with wine from grapes grown on its slopes? Travelled with smugglers across borders with no money, no way of obtaining money, no confirmation from the people I was meant to stay with and no way of contacting them? Gatecrashed and got thrown out of a Moroccan family wedding? It all seems pretty mundane. How about ‘crashed a moped into a horse and cart driven by a 10-year-old boy in rural Senegal, breaking two ribs’?

Your house is on fire – which bottle would you save from the burning building?

(no cheating - this must be a bottle in your possession at the moment)

About 6 years before I met my wife, I fell in love in Tuscany. There we were, standing at the gates of Villa le Prata, the late afternoon sun cascading through the bars as Signora strode across the pristine gravel from the small cantina to welcome us warmly for an informal tasting. We’d spent the morning at various other producers and enjoyed a homemade lunch at the home of the local fire chief, with obscenely perfect views over Montalcino. But here, the soft breeze trembling through the Cyprus trees and blowing my girlfriend’s hair calmly over her face, eyes half closed and smiling, here I fell in love.

It probably didn’t matter what the wines tasted like after that, but I have had them since and they were just as delicious. Although the relationship didn’t last long, I still have a bottle of their 1999 Brunello from that day, and for sentimentality’s sake, I’d probably want to rescue it first. I should probably just drink it. I only wish TWS stocked them.

At your niece’s 18th birthday party, she asks you for advice on learning about wine. What advice do you give her?


Seriously. Wine is made for enjoyment. You’ll never find out what you like unless you try it first. (That’s also applicable for general life advice). Join The Wine Society, buy some mixed cases, invite some friends round and have fun. Don’t like it? Try something different. Like it? Pour another glass.

Your questions wanted

Indiana Tom Jones :grin::cowboy_hat_face:


If only I looked as good in a hat :smiley:


Honestly never thought my eyes would read anything quite like this on this Community! Straight out of a telenovela! :astonished: Dare I ask if you can elaborate on any of these?! :smile:

Your job sounds really interesting too! Can you tell us any more about the foundation you work for? Sounds like a really cool job. :slightly_smiling_face:


Haha, well it did say something that no one else has done, so I had to think of some extreme examples!

The volcano was Fogo, in Cabo Verde which is where we spent our honeymoon. My wife did most of the wedding organisation so I took charge of the holiday. She made it quite clear that all she wanted to do was lie on a beach in the sun, so instead we visited three different places and climed a volcano on her birthday, which hurt so much I couldn’t walk properly for 3 days after, and the last eruption was so recent that you could hear the lava contracting at night, while the floor in our room was so hot we couldn’t go barefoot. The wine, however, while not exactly top of the range, was pleasantly soft and fruity and very, very welcome after a long day’s hike!

I work for the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which promotes good governance and leadership in Africa. The outgoing president of Liberia has just won the leadership Prize that Mo started, and we’re currently gearing up for our annual weekend event in Rwanda in April. Every year we also produce a governance index that ranks every country in a variety of governance dimensions, from rule of law to gender balance in government. It’s really interesting, especially if you’re a stats geek, and if you’re interested you can explore it here.


Oh my goodness how absolutely fascinating. Just had a brief explore of the website and I could get lost in in for ages. The Trends map really shows how different issues are affecting different countries - it looks like your work is very complicated but incredibly worthwhile. :clap:

Despite some of the elements of your description I’m also very jealous of your volcano experience! Has it drawn you to try more wines from volcanic soils since, or put you off? :smile:


Good to hear! I have lots of plans for the site, so feel free to check back in November when the new data is release :wink:

I don’t have much experience of volcanic wines, so not sure if what I was tasting was typical of the terroir or just the particular wine. I remember thinking it was unusually soft. I think it was mentioned somewhere on here about having a volcanic themed WS offer - I’d certainly be very interested in that! I’m also off to Gran Canaria next week, so of course will be checking out some local offerings…