Wine expert and writer Nick Tarayan dies4th February, 2013 by Andy Young
Wine expert and writer Nick Tarayan has died aged 54, seven years after a heart attack left him brain damaged.
A former contributor and columnist for the drinks business, Nick also worked as a wine buyer for a number of hotels and restaurants.
Nick trained with the Metropole Group while at the Ealing Catering College, working at the Ship Hotel in Brighton, the Queens Hotel in Newton Abbot and the Imperial Hotel in Torquay.
After leaving college in 1978, Nick’s first job was as assistant manager at the Great Fosters Hotel in Surrey. Nick then moved to The Feathers Hotel in Woodstock, where he worked for two years before taking up a position as general manager of the Masters Restaurant in Queens Gate, Kensington.
In 1987, aged just 27, Nick became the managing director of Leith’s Restaurant in Notting Hill Gate, having been asked by Prue Leith to develop the venue. After 13 years at Leith’s the restaurant became renowned for its fine food, gained a Michelin Star and became recognised as one of the top restaurants in the UK for its wine list.
In 1995 Nick won acclaim from the Automobile Association, receiving its top award for the “UK’s Best Wine List”. This was followed by a unique accolade from the US Wine Spectator magazine winning their Award for Excellence for 12 consecutive years.
Nick decided to take a year off work in 2000 and indulged his special interest of wines from the Iberian Peninsula with a tour of Spain. He also used this time to develop his writing and journalistic skills and in January 2001 he set up TNT Communications. This new company enabled Nick to continue his wine journalism but also work as a consultant in the hospitality industry.
In 2003 Nick’s passion for wine saw him set up another company, called Wine of the Times, which supplied new and interesting wines, not currently on the market, to the hotels and restaurants. Nick also provided a “virtual sommelier” service to his private customers.
Tragically in September 2005 Nick suffered a severe cardiac arrest on a plane at Stanstead Airport while waiting to take off for a trip to the Languedoc wine region. The authorities were unable to deal with Nick’s condition quickly, which meant that he suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain. This left Nick in a vegetative state.
In 2006 the Nick Tarayan Busary was established, which sponsors students interested in the study and professional presentation of wine. In the same year Nick was awarded the “Outstanding Contribution of the On-Trade” award by the drinks business.
Nick died peacefully at his care home and with his family on Sunday 27 January. The funeral will take place on Wednesday 6 February at the Mortlake Crematorium.
The family have asked to send any flowers, or donations in lieu of flowers for the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability, Putney, to: T H Sanders & Sons, 447 Upper Richmond Road West, East Sheen, London, SW14 7PR.