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Jancis Robinson: ‘I don’t tell anyone what to like’

Ahead of the launch of her BBC Maestro wine tasting course, db caught up with Jancis Robinson MW to understand the key lessons viewers can take from An Understanding of Wine.

Photographer: Gareth Iwan Jones

Robinson’s course – An Understanding of Wine – offers lessons focused on debunking common wine myths, breaking down tasting techniques, and deciphering both labels and the language of wine.

Tasting more than 10,000 wines annually, Jancis Robinson leans on knowledge from a career spanning 45 years, having been the first person outside the wine trade to pass the Master of Wine exams. She was awarded an OBE for her work in wine, advises on the Queen’s cellar, and is the only wine writer to make the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame.

Ahead of the launch of An Understanding of Wine, Robinson revealed to db how the course came about.

“The appropriately named Michael Levine, Managing Director of BBC Maestro, contacted me during the strict lockdown of early 2020,” Robinson explained. “In an outdoor masked meeting in the garden outside our flat he explained that they wanted to produce a series of very varied online courses hosted by leaders in their fields. Flattery works every time.”

The full course consists of 25 lessons over 5 hours and has been designed for viewers to learn at their own pace.

For Robinson, one of the highlights of filming the course was interviewing Domaine Dujac in Morey-St-Denis winemakers Jeremy Seysses and Diana Snowden Seysses. And she got more from them than just an understanding of their winemaking.

“I learnt from Jeremy that biodynamic wine producers like him can order cow horns via the internet,” she said.

Robinson quips that her favourite part of the production process were the picnic lunches in sunny Burgundy during the 2021 harvest.

But she is passionate about helping viewers feel more confident in their wine choices. One thing she hopes participants will take from the course is understanding “the importance of developing your own taste in wine rather than being swayed by someone you know who sets themselves up as a bit of an expert”.

She adds: “I don’t tell anyone what to like in the course, but give them the tools for learning more.”

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