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Under the influence(rs)


As The Society’s PR Manager I talk to / email / tweet / deal regularly with the UK’s leading and less-known wine communicators. By way of raw basic research, I’d be really interested to know who are your key influencers, if any, when it comes to reading/hearing/making decisions about wine? This can be in the press, online, in books, on the screen / radio or in the flesh. Over to you.

Poll: Taking the pulse - your feedback appreciated

I’ve a subscription to JancisRobinson.com and lean on it quite heavily treating most of it as fairly authoritative.

I do think it’s possible to develop an affinity for a particular reviewer’s tasting notes as well provided you actually follow their recommendations and then see if you agree. This has worked well with JR.com although not universally (I could elaborate…)

It has also significantly helped broaden my knowledge (theoretical) and interests over the years.


Jancis Robinson is pretty reliable, although I’m too mean to subscribe to her website and I tend to take her (and her colleagues) scores out of 20 as a reasonable guide. When buying a wine, I’ll do a google of the winery and see if there is any press for the wine, or if its a more familiar style, I’ll trust my wine merchant. The more expensive a wine is the more I’m likely to check out online opinions. Under a tenner, I’ll take a punt on anything I haven’t tried that takes my fancy.

I have nearly 100 wine books of varying age and quality, which are good for background but of course become out of date so quickly. Have got a few in French, Italian and German, which I use to try to improve my rudimentary language skills. Wines that I enjoy tend to stick in the mind and can lead you into trying more wines from the particular grape variety, producer or region.


Elly (Pear) Curshen, she’s a real champion of sherry and Helen McGinn (KnackeredMother) - take notice of them mainly on Instagram as they have good feeds that are nice to look at. Also I really like Fiona Beckett on Twitter :slight_smile: Also not UK but I find WineFolly really informative, I bought the book for my Level 2 and it was definitely useful


I agree about Janice, although I don’t have a subscription either. I don’t find they other critics useful - they are just not critical enough and I’m not convinced of their impartiality. In addition their recommendations are often impractical if it is for a wine from an independent, given the issues of minimum order and delivery charge.

WS Member reviews are useful and I use them to build a wish list.

Otherwise it is usually wines I like, makers I like and good vintages. You don’t need an ‘influencer’ for that.


I also concur with jancis robinson recommendation as she was one of my first tutors via her excellent accessible wine programme in the 90s!

I trust the society website overviews as they tend to be very matter of fact and written quite objectively. Not read to many reviews from members yet but you all seem to be a knowledgeable lot :wink: I’ve added a fair few to my wishlist off of the forum discussions too!

A wine merchant would definitely have an influence but since I’ve joined the society most wine purchases have been in bulk off the back of a tasting so that’s far more my big nose.


I’m not sure how influenced by them I am, but I enjoy reading Jane MacQuitty, Victoria Moore, Fiona Beckett and David Williams. I don’t pay for JR’s site either, but have used her vintage guides a few times and generally find that her reviews are useful.

Aside from them, I’d say the Member Reviews on the site, along with the occasional personal recommendation from WS staff on here, influence me more.


I rarely see wine columns any more - most no longer exist, but occasionally I will read one that has been shared in social channels - usually because there is a specific additional endorsement from the person sharing them (I don’t bother when it is shared by producers or retailers, I will be honest).

Aside from that, I have friends who are either in, or around, the wine trade whose personal views I trust very much, people like Daniel Primack, Jamie Goode, Joe Wadsack, … The problem with their recommendations is that it is VERY hard to “do” anything with them as @Richard says because I can’t get those bottles except for travelling around London to buy a single bottle, or paying lots of extra money for delivery. They also often have access to wines of a higher price-point than I can afford - through events, tastings or just their own investment. So while I trust them a great deal, and they inspire (and influence) me with their choices, I don’t often get to actually drink, and buy, those wines.

I too am more likely to actually buy a wine based on the reviews on a website, or in a forum, linked to a specific retailer I already have a relationship with, just like this one.

The best ‘influencer’ is the person you meet at a tasting and tells you “you must go and try THAT wine” … I :heart: that person a lot


Two bloggers I have read , enjoyed, been influenced by and recommend are:

http://www.wineloon.com (aka Simon Reilly)


http://www.vinolent.net (aka Joss Fowler)


Anyone read wine folly?


As someone who has only gotten into wine over the last 3 years I found Wine Folly (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyHNNb7v43Xyeg3oE_XW4Pw), Wine Library TV (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-8aMX2uL1Mt8MgojmNvn4w) and Whitney Adams (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK0-dV9UK9v3HIaxlIILRYw) extremely helpful to a newcomer.

They have been some of the few places of wine info that seem modern and happy to explain things without having any previous knowledge or experience in wine.

Other than the above I seem to share similar tastes in wine to Fiona Beckett and David Williams and also find a lot of the people i follow on Vivino manage to discover some great wines and so I can get some great finds from them.


A great topic and something I’d been thinking about. I think the whole scoring system has lost its way, especially James Suckling who has almost become a comedy figure scoring everything over 90! This Parker system just doesn’t make sense for me as whilst it’s out of 100, the real scoring bracket is incredibly narrow and you get given the feeling that anything sub 90 isn’t worth your time. Also, the scores seem to account too much for the cost of the bottle rather than what is in it. Is a 95 point Lafite comparable with a 95 point Leoville Barton in the same vintage?

Clearly the wine merchants love Suckling as he is quoted in every email giving a wine 100 points (I had one today on Almaviva – a nice wine but a perfect one?) and it helps them sell but do you guys take any notice of him? Halliday too in Australia seems to over score wines. Personally Jancis carries good weight and also Gallioni and Larner. I generally seek out their views before indulging in anything vaguely pricey. Also, I look to the community and Cellartracker to get a feel for how a wine is drinking now and perhaps what some of the back vintages are doing.


I love the Members’ Reviews section on the Wine Soc website. Amusing, informative and wonderfully personal (esp when they include food-pairings and more ‘out there’ metaphors). Wish it could be expanded as has been mentioned, as it’s easy to miss the gems! :grin:


Fiona Beckett and Victoria Moore from the press.

Decanter’s Midweek Wines - which feels as though the prices are going up a little.

Instagram - including the likes of Jamie Goode and Daniel Primack mentioned above, but Instagram Family Tree, where you follow on from other people you follow, is invaluable.

And last but not least, other drinkers from the blessed Society when Ewan has his glassed charged and is tapping the like button on a Friday night :wink:


I agree with lots of the above. I joined The Wine Society through Jancis Robinson’s recommendation… So obviously a trustworthy opinion :wink:

I also follow the tweets of Joe Fattorini, of Wine Show fame, partly because he’s amusing and happy to chat when you have questions.


I think like a lot of people on here I try and get a broad range of opinion before making a choice, including:

  • TWS member reviews (especially when you realise you have similar tastes as a regular reviewer
  • professional critics (Jancis is ok but she gives everything 16.5 and I don’t subscribe to her site) and Wine-Searcher.
  • I’m just going to say it as no one else has, love him or hate him, Robert Parker really has done a lot for wine over the years in terms of bringing awareness to the normal consumer. He (and his staff) have a certain taste/style. Note - I think the Parker name is still the only one that can push a price of a bottle of wine through the roof off the back of a perfect or near perfect score.
  • Personal recommendations


In terms of sites I use jancisrobinson.com (I really like the articles), wine searcher, cellartracker also great for keeping track of my wine (really these last two would be more than enough). From time to time Ib buy a copy of Decanter. I also read Parker, but no longer subscribe (not due to quality). Allen Meadows, but do not subscribe… yet.

TWS promotion materials.

I also listen to the sommeliers in restaurants.

Main influencer though is Andrew in my local wine shop, who is always happy to offer a taste of new bottles he has.

Stemware (wine glasses) - what do you use?

Always good when you have someone like your local wine shop, very jealous! Cellartracker is great for working out when your wines are ready to drink.


Yessss! I spend many an hour on her website looking up food matches and trust her palate implicitly.

I also like Victoria Moore, but I must admit most of my buying choices come from seeing what my friends are recommending on social media.

Ooh, sounds interesting, what’s this? Do you mean the little downward arrow next to people’s profiles that give new following recommendations, or is it a separate app or something?


Just through regular use. Follow lots of people who you only see through following others… often if they are tagged in wine photos etc