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Brief bio of jancis
 
 
One of a handful of wine communicators with an international reputation, Jancis Robinson writes daily for www.jancisrobinson.com, weekly for The Financial Times, and bi-monthly for a column that is syndicated in every continent. She is also editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine and co-author with Hugh Johnson of The World Atlas of Wine, each of these books recognized as a standard reference worldwide.
 
An award-winning tv presenter, she is invited all over the world to tutor wine tastings and act as a wine judge. In 1984 she was the first person outside the wine trade to pass the rigorous Master of Wine exams and in 2003 she was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen, on whose cellar she now advises.


See
where to find me for details of current events, publications and broadcasts.

See
site history
for details of the evolution of jancisrobinson.com

The rest of the team

Julia Harding MW is Jancis's fulltime assistant and invaluable to the functioning of this site. See here for full details of her glorious career. As a relatively recent top pass in the punishing Master of Wine exams, she is particularly up to speed on oenological and viticultural matters.



Linda Murphy, until recently wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, is our West Coast correspondent, signed to beef up our coverage for our American visitors. See
here for more about Linda's undoubted qualities and some of the reaction to news of her appointment. She is currently carving out a highly successful career as a freelance wine writer, lecturer and wine judge.




Rachel Shaughnessy
, a Sussex-based chartered accountant, is our subscriptions supremo and is your point of contact for all queries concerning membership of purple pages. She can be reached at
subscriptions@jancisrobinson.com

Not forgetting Nick Lander, he who must be obeyed, Mr Jancis Robinson and Financial Times restaurant critic, super-chef and food service consultant to all manner of arts organisations such as the Royal Opera House, British Museum and the South Bank Centre who so kindly supplies nick's food news. See more at www.nicklander.com


Jancis writes...

 

My wine writing career began on 1 Dec 1975, virtually pre-history as far as modern wine is concerned, when I started as assistant editor of the British wine trade magazine Wine & Spirit. Since then I've been lucky enough to travel all over the world of wine (which nowadays includes Asia - a continent I never thought back in the 1970s that wine would help me explore) learning that our expanding wine world is inhabited by some of the most colourful and interesting characters that ever walked the earth.

Perhaps more important is the fact that what they produce, which was always pretty romantic, fascinating and heartwarmingly earthy, is nowadays far more reliably delicious than it ever was. When I started out, it was remarkable if a wine smelt clean and not of sulphur or dirty filterpads. Today, hardly any wines are technically faulty (even though an awful lot of them are dull).

There's a lot to be said about price and value as they relate to wine and I will say it, but this is probably not the place.

Should you want to know in detail about how I got from being someone who couldn't type but somehow wangled their way on to a wine trade magazine to running a website with subscribers from more than 80 countries, you could plough your way through my autobiographical memoir known as Tasting Pleasure in the US and Confessions of a Wine Lover everywhere else.

For the brief version of my bio, choose one of the following options below: swot, prolific author, the groaning mantelpiece, non-bimbo broadcaster, well-rounded person, warm and cuddly human being with an unusual name. 

... swot
 

1968-71
- Maths and Philosophy at St Anne's College, Oxford. I was one of the first three undergraduates ever to tackle this strange new arts-science hybrid. 
1976-78 - did all of the wine trade exams organised by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. This outfit is based in London but is now the world’s dominant wine educator. I joked at the time there'd probably be a question in the Certificate exam: 'Valpolicella is a) red, b) white or c) rosé' and there was in fact one that went 'Valpolicella is a) French, b) Spanish or c) Italian'. The WSET seems to be in a state of constant change but it does cover the ground in a very professional way, and there is always tasting as well as more arid instruction.
1984 - took and, more amazingly, passed the Master of Wine exams, becoming the first non wine trade person to earn the letters MW after their name. There are now well over 200 MWs worldwide and exams are held each year in London, the US and Australia. This fiendishly difficult qualification involves almost a week of exams, both theoretical and 'practical' (ie blind tasting). One day I'll explain why on earth I subjected myself to this ordeal - though I think being pregnant helped rather than hindered, as witness my doing especially well in the tasting papers. For more information on the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) see www.masters-of-wine.org.
1988 onwards - hooked in to the Oxford University Press book factory to edit the first (second and third) Oxford Companion to Wine: an honour for me and for wine, I felt, to follow in the distinguished path pioneered by the late Sir Paul Harvey and the first ever Oxford Companion, The Oxford Companion to English Literature published in 1932
1997 - Honorary Doctorate of The Open University, a great British institution founded by the Labour government in 1971 whereby people of all ages and conditions can study for a university degree. At the ceremony at which I was awarded the honour of being able to call myself Dr Robinson, there were scores of graduates with serious disabilities and one who was collecting his degree on his 80th birthday.
 
 ...prolific author
The Wine Book
1979
Fontana and A & C Black
Which? Wine Guide
1980, 1981
Consumers' Association / Hodder & Stoughton (Editor)
The Great Wine Book
1982
Sidgwick & Jackson (William Morrow)
Masterglass
1983, 1987
1998
Pan
Japanese edition
Vines, Grapes & Wines
1986
Mitchell Beazley (Knopf) - also published in French, German, Danish, and Finnish
Jancis Robinson's
Food & Wine Adventures
1987
Headline
The Demon Drink
1988
1989
Mitchell Beazley
Mandarin
(How to Handle Your Drink)
1994
Cedar
Vintage Timecharts
1989
Mitchell Beazley (Weidenfeld)
Also published in French and German
Oxford Companion to Wine
1994
1995
1996
1997
OUP (Editor)
Published in German by Hallwag
Published in French by Hachette
Published in Danish by GAD
 
1999
2006
OUP second edition
OUP third edition
Jancis Robinson's Wine Course
1995
1996
1999
1999
BBC Books (Abbeville Press)
Published in German and French by Hallwag/TF1
and in Japanese
UK paperback edition
Jancis Robinson's Guide to
Wine Grapes
1996
OUP
Danish, German, Japanese
Confessions of a Wine Lover
(Tasting Pleasure)
1997
1998
1999
Viking Penguin (Viking Penguin USA)
UK paperback edition
US paperback
The Good Nose
1999
Wine Relief
Guide to the Best Portuguese Wines
1999
Portuguese, based on tasting notes
Oxford Companion to the
Wines of North America
2000
OUP (Consultant Editor)
Jancis Robinson's Concise Wine Companion
2001
OUP
World Atlas of Wine
(with Hugh Johnson)
2001
5th edn published in 14 countries
How to Taste aka          2002     Simon & Schuster (US)
Jancis Robinson's Wine
Tasting Workbook          2002     Conran Octopus (UK)
Jancis Robinson's Wine
Course (2nd edn)           2003     BBC Books
Oxford Companion          2006     Third edition
to Wine                        2007     Published in German (Hallwag)
                                                               Dutch (Het Spectrum)
                                                               Danish (Gads)
                                                               Japanese (Hara Shobo)
…the groaning mantelpiece


MAJOR  PRE 1995 AWARDS TO JANCIS ROBINSON
1978 Rouyet Guillet Cup for top marks in Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma
1983 Glenfiddich Drink Book of the Year
1984 Glenfiddich Radio/Television Programme of the Year
1984 Glenfiddich Trophy
1984 Master of Wine
1985 Marques de Cáceres Award
1986 Glenfiddich Drink Writer and Food Writer of the Year (a unique double)
1986 Wine Guild of the United Kingdom Premier Award
1987 André Simon Memorial Award Clicquot Book of the Year (US)
1992 Glenfiddich Television Programme of the Year

1995 AWARDS TO THE OXFORD COMPANION TO WINE
André Simon Memorial Award (UK)
Clicquot Book of the Year (US)
Julia Child / International Association of Culinary Professionals (US)
Glenfiddich Award (UK)
James Beard Award (US)
Premio Langhe Ceretto (Italy)
Wine Guild of United Kingdom, Exceptional Certificate (UK)
Redwood Books Award, Book Design and Production Awards (UK)
Gold Medal, Academy of Gastronomy (Germany)

1995 AWARDS TO JANCIS ROBINSON
Eighth annual Wine Literary Award, from the Wine Appreciation Guild, San Francisco, US for 'an exceptional contribution to the literature of wine in the English language' (US)
Tenth Ruth Ellen Church Award, from the Midwest International Wine Exposition, Chicago, US 'created to recognize outstanding contributions to wine and food journalism' (US)
Catalan Agriculture Medal (Spain)

1996 AWARDS
Winner of the 1996 Glenfiddich Drinks Writer of the Year Award
Winner of the overall 1996 Glenfiddich Trophy for food and drink communicators (Britain's top award)
Voted second Woman of the Year for 'Celebrating Wine in American Life' Week by Women for Winesense (US)
Jancis Robinson's Wine Course voted Wine Book of the Year and Television Programme of the Year by the Wine Guild of the United Kingdom. Jancis Robinson also won the Wine Guild's overall Premier Award (UK)
Voted first Communicator of the Year by International Wine and Spirit Competition/Vinitaly (Italy/UK). Runners-up were Marvin Shanken, Wine Spectator and Decanter magazines.

1997 AWARD
Honorary Doctorate, The Open University (UK)
James Beards for Best Televison Food Journalism

1998 AWARD
Silver Medal, Academy of Gastronomes (Germany)

1999 AWARDS
Decanter magazine (Wo)Man of the Year (UK)
Women for WineSense Inspirational Award, LA Chapter's first Hall of Fame (US)
Glenfiddich Award for Best TV Programme (Vintners' Tales)
First ever Glenfiddich Award for TV Personality of the Year
Tasting Pleasure: Confessions of a Wine Lover wins Wine Writing Literary Award at Versailles World Cookbook Fair
'Vintners' Tales' wins Gold Award for wine TV programmes at the World Food Media Awards, Tasting Australia

2001 AWARDS
Florida Winefest Andre Simon Wine Writer's Award (2nd ever winner, after Robert Parker)
Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America shortlisted for a James Beard Award (US), Andre Simon Book Award (UK) and Lanson Award (UK)

2003 AWARDS
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Winner of the first-ever Pro Bono Vinum award from Wine International magazine
The Golden Vine Award (Tasting Australia)
Winner with Hugh Johnson of the Schweizer Goldlorbeeren for best wine book (World Atlas of Wine) of 2003
Winner with Hugh Johnson of the German Gastronomic Academy's Silbermedaille, also for the Atlas
shortlisted for Glenfiddich Wine Writer of the Year
 
2004 AWARDS
Wine International's Pro Bonum Vinum Wine Personality
Favorita Award for a notable woman (tenth, and first non-Italian, recipient)
Premio Internazionale 'Casato Prime Donne'
The German Gastronomic Academy's top award, the Golden Feather, not given every year but given to the 2nd edn of Das Oxford Companion Weinlexikon (Hallwag) awarded at the Frankfurt Book Fair

2007 AWARDS
Harpers Most Inspiring Wine Critic and Most Influential Wine Writer, eventually voted Most Inspiring Person in Drinks
Voted second Most Influential Person in the World of Wine by visitors to decanter.com (after Robert Parker)
With Nick, one of London's 1000 Most Influential People according to the Evening Standard
Premio EVA for women of achievement frim the government of Navarra
Inducted to the Wine Media Guild of NY's Wine Writers' Hall of Fame
The Oxford Companion to Wine chosen as the only drinks book among the James Beard Books Committee's '20 Essential Books to Build Your Culinary Library' chosen for the 20th anniversary of the James Beard Foundation

2008 AWARDS
Shortlisted for Lifetime Achievement Award (won by Tim and Nina Zagat) in the first International Restaurant and Hotel Awards to be held June 2008 in Beverly Hills
Inducted into Wine Media Guild Hall of Fame, US
World Atlas of Wine given Special Hall of Fame Award for being the Best Book on Wine at Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2008


…non bimbo broadcaster


For quick links to many of my radio and tv programmes see here.

I started out as rent-a-presenter, writing and presenting 'The Wine Programme' which I believe was the world's first TV series on wine and have yet to be corrected.

Then Nick and I started Eden Productions, our own TV production company and I've been involved in the programmes listed below.

Some of the work I enjoy most, however, is narrating television documentaries. Unlike filming, you don't need any make-up. You don't have to be careful what you wear (except for manmade fabrics that can make terribly distracting crackling noises into the hypersensitive mikes used by sound engineers). All you need is to be able to read.

In fact it seems a miracle to me that people are prepared to pay me to go and sit in a little dark room, watch an interesting programme and do a relatively undemanding performance while playing with words. (One of these days I'd like to offer a service to producers of writing and editing scripts because I enjoy this aspect of it so much too.)

'The House', the notorious and seminal fly-on-the-wall six-parter about Covent Garden's Royal Opera House was one of the most fascinating series to narrate - not least because I really didn't realise at the time quite how damaging it would turn out to be, which was a bit unfortunate as the then General Director of the Opera House, Jeremy Isaacs, was a very good friend.

Subsequent subjects included Olga Korbut and a study of north London strictly Orthodox Jewish women called 'And God Created Netball'.

1983 - writer/presenter of first series of 'The Wine Programme', the world's first TV series devoted to wine, shown first on Channel 4 in the UK and subsequently in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and eastern Europe.
1985 - second series of 'The Wine Programme' C4
1985 - writer/presenter of 'Jancis Robinson's Christmas Wine List' C4
1986 - narrator for 'Forty Minutes' BBC2
1986/7 - presenter of BBC Design Awards BBC2
1987 - narrator of 'Design Classics' BBC2 and elsewhere
1987 - third series of 'The Wine Programme'
1987 - writer/presenter of 'Jancis Robinson Meets...' Thames
1989 - writer/presenter/producer of 'Matters of Taste' C4 (Glenfiddich Award)
1991 - writer/presenter/producer of 'Matters of Taste' C4 and Australia
1992 - writer/presenter/producer of 'Vintners' Tales' BBC2
1994 - co-host of first series 'Grape Expectations' TV Food Network (US) 1995 - co-host of second series Grape Expectations
1995 - writer/presenter/producer of 'Jancis Robinson's Wine Course' BBC2 and numerous broadcasters worldwide (James Bear Award)
1996 - narrator of 'The House' (Royal Opera) BBC2
1997 - writer/presenter of 'The Food Chain' BBC1
1998 - writer/presenter of 'Vintners' Tales' (2nd series) BBC2 (Glenfiddich Award and Jacob's Creek World Food Media Award)
1999 - writer/presenter of 'Taste with Jancis Robinson' BBC2
2003 - presenter of 'Uncorked' on Italy, various networks worldwide

plus numerous one-off narrations and appearances.

well rounded person.…


Other stuff that I do includes eating, drinking, talking and occasionally listening. The closest I get to any commercial involvement is my tastings as the wine consultant for British Airways and, since early 2005 I have been a member of the Royal Household Wine Committee, choosing wines for the Queen to serve her guests - also on the basis of blind tastings. Every few weeks I trek to the edge of Heathrow airport and taste up to 100 wines blind to choose the best quality examples that have come in as a result of a tender. We never look at the labels until the very, very end, but it's amazing how often the same producers, necessarily limited to those who can supply the vast quantities needed by such a big airline, do well.

Nick and I are also closely involved with an annual international travel bursary for someone in food and/or drink (see more details at
www.geoffreyrobertsaward.com) and in raising money for Comic Relief through wine-related activities. Look out for exciting news about what will happen re Wine Relief in the run-up to the next Red Nose Day on Friday March 16, 2007.

I'm a Cumbrian, married to a saintly Mancunian (a United fanatic since birth), Nick Lander, who writes about food and restaurants for the Financial Times and is food service consultant to arts organisations such as the Royal Opera House, the British Museum, the South Bank Centre and Somerset House. He used to have a restaurant, L'Escargot, in Soho in the 1980s. See
nick's food news.

We have three exceptional children (of course) vintage-dated 1982, 1984 and 1991 and live most of the year in London.

…with an unusual name


I was given the unusual name Jancis because my mother and her sister had read the novel Precious Bane by Mary Webb in their teens and liked the name of the heroine Jancis Beguildy so much (despite the fact that she drowned herself and her illegitimate son) that they decided the first one to have a daughter would call her Jancis. Mary Webb was very popular in the 20s and 30s and wrote rural melodramas of the sort that Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm parodies. (Our prime minister of the time, Stanley Baldwin, even wrote a preface to Precious Bane, a book in which the male characters tend to be called Seth and Gideon.)

It may be a significant fact that most of Mary Webb's work was set in and around Shropshire. Until Jan 2007 neither I nor my mother knew whether Jancis is an old Shropshire name or whether Mary Webb made it up but purple pager Bob Ross of F
ranklin Lakes, NJ managed to find
'Shropshire Folklore, ed by C S Burne, from the collections of G G[F? JR] Jackson, by Georgina Frederica Jackson, 1886, page 575, has a series of primitive acrostics on the word Finis, including this one:

F for Francis,
I for Jancis,
N for Nicklis,
I for Jicklis,
S for Sammy Salt-Box.'
Very interesting (to me!) and much appreciated.
 
Incidentally, my birth certificate actually says Jancice because it was only when I was eight that my mother re-read the book and realised she'd got the spelling wrong.

I have never actually met another Jancis but I have dedicated a book to one in the Bristol area, who must be in her early 20s; I've had a letter from one who must be in her 40s or 50s living in Milan; and I'm told there was once a dress shop in the town of Reigate in Surrey just south of London called Jancis. In Brazil in nov 03 I was contacted by a lady of Polish extraction whose parents had emigrated to Brazil with the family name Jancis, which I had never come across before. In dec 05 I heard from another Jancis born in 1950 living in an English village whose parish newsletter is called - purple pages.
 
This website shortlisted for the first-ever Glenfiddish Multimedia Award (won by the BBC)
 

 


My wine writing career began on Dec 1, 1975, when I started as assistant editor of the British wine trade magazine Wine & Spirit. Since then I've been lucky enough to travel all over the world of wine (which nowadays includes Asia - a continent I never thought back in the 1970s that wine would help me explore) learning that is inhabited by some of the most colourful and interesting characters that ever walked the earth.

Perhaps more important is the fact that what they produce, which was always pretty romantic and wonderful and heartwarmingly earthy, is nowadays far more reliably delicious than it ever was. When I started out, it was remarkable if a wine smelt clean and not of sulphur or dirty filterpads. Today, hardly any wines are technically faulty (even though an awful lot of them are dull).

There's a lot to be said about price and value as they relate to wine and I will say it, but this is probably not the place.

Should you want to know in detail about how I got from being someone who couldn't type but somehow wangled their way on to a wine trade magazine to being rung up by a wine lover in Jakarta in the middle of the night, you could plough your way through my autobiographical memoir known as Tasting Pleasure in the US and Confessions of a Wine Lover everywhere else.

For a longer version of my bio, choose one of the following options below: swot, prolific author, the groaning mantelpiece, non-bimbo broadcaster, well-rounded person… with an unusual name.