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6 top wine influencers share their wine experiences

A small circle of wine experts and lovers from the United Kingdom agreed to answer our questions about their wine experiences including wine tastings and events, and offered us tips on how to choose the right wine. We are so thankful to them and really appreciate the feedback!

Nick Fisher

Nick Fisher @Burgundynick

Nick is a wine writer, influencer, big wine lover and Independent Wine Store Champion.

— The best wines and wine experiences you've ever had.
— The best experiences are visiting wineries and drinking a whole range of wines, visiting countries and sitting at a table outside and drinking some local wines and enjoying the ambience. Also, I love hosting wine tastings and sharing my passion for wines with people. Best wines obviously Burgundy ranks up there, especially some Grand Crus like Musigny and Chambertin, but I've had the privilege to drink some incredible from other great areas, some Prestige Cuvées like Sir Winston Churchill Champagne by Pol Roger, Château Latour and Château d'Yquem in Bordeaux.

— What is your favourite wine for every day?
— Reds have to be Côtes-de-Nuits-Villages Domaine Bellene, any Rioja, any Valpolicella and Domaine Bégude Pinot Noir. Whites, Mâcon-Chardonnay By Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon, Falanghina and Fiano and white Rioja.

— What is the oldest wine you have tasted and what was it like?
— 2 years ago for my birthday I had a 1978 Maison Roche de Bellene Savigny-les-Beaune. Here's my review on Instagram. The nose was rather delicate, for a 42-year-old pinot noir, some herbs, forest floor, cherries and plums. The palate still had some freshness and some fruit. It had a complex delicate finish, of sour cherries, a hint of sweetness, and a little herbs and it had a bit of weight.

— What qualities do you look for when buying wine?
— So many things to talk about, but I love to give a new wine a go so I'm always asking wine store owners what's an interesting wine they have. It could be an unusual variety or blend. A new region, a forgotten region or a new producer. So if you build a rapport with your local independents and your online contacts you can often get some great wines, at good prices that are tasty and what I like. Quality doesn't mean expensive, so I buy lots of wines from not so well known producers and from appellations that aren't as well known. These allow you to buy the odd extravagant bottle.

Chris Howells

Chris Howells @fenders_oh_fenders

Chris is a wine writer, a judge, a wine communicator and a big lover of the humble grape.

— The best wines and wine experiences you've ever had.
— I never want to take sides on which country makes the best wine as I find there are gems from all over the world if you look hard enough. But some highlights for me (so far) have got to be Bolgheri in Italy. Stunning scenery, world-beating vineyards and more Super Tuscans in 1 area than you can shake a stick at. For me, the food you're eating is as important as the wine you pair it with. My cheesy little motto is Pairing is Caring. 1985 Sassicaia, for me is the best wine in the world, but this is my palate and what I enjoy eating and drinking. I love the explosive, rich flavours Italian food gives you, and well-aged, high acidity Italian red blends for me are almost as near to perfect when paired well. I’ve been super lucky to work alongside some cool names in the wine industry, Cyril Brun from Charles Heidsieck is a hero of mine as pound for pound (price vs quality) I think Charles Heidsieck's standard reserve champagne is absolutely world-beating. I enjoy occasionally hosting my own wine tastings with friends, customers & colleagues and I take great satisfaction in introducing new wines to ppl and expanding their palates. I really love when someone may say they ONLY drink red, or they ONLY drink white, and they leave with a bottle or 2 of wine never thought they like. I truly believe there is a wine out there for everyone, and I’ll happily help them find it.

— What is your favourite wine for every day?
— White wine, a soft creamy textured Pouilly-Fuissé or a quality English sparkling, with food, I do enjoy a dry Riesling. Red wine, it is no secret I am a BIG FAN of Pinot Noir.

— What is the oldest wine you have tasted and what was it like?
— I’ve been super lucky to drink some fabulous wines, I really wanted to find brilliant champagne from Dom Pérignon from 1987 (my birth year)… but as many ppl may know, it was NOT a great year for wine. Go back a couple of years to 1985 and it was a whole other story. Some of the best wines from both France and Italy were made. So this would be it 1985. Fortified wines, I’ve been lucky enough to try an outstanding 1970 single harvest Tawny Port from Taylor’s. Not to be confused with Vintage Ports (which are aged in bottles), these limited-edition Very Old Single Harvest Ports have been slowly matured in oak casks for five decades. The taste was mellow, aromatic and extremely complex, this mahogany liquid 😂 oozed raisins, hot cross buns, walnuts, baklava dusty leather and cherry dipped in syrup. Super dry finish with a bitter chocolate and coffee finish. But even that old, it still maintained a lovely acidity to it.

— What qualities do you look for when buying wine?
— My biggest thing is price vs quality, in most cases, yes, the more expensive wine is better as it usually has a stronger depth of flavour with a batter balance of first pressed grapes the quality of the wine is noticeably crisper and clearer. But, what I really get excited about is finding a phenomenal wine for a tenner! It makes you work harder and makes it all the more satisfying when you find one. The qualities I look out for are oak ageing, but not too much a subtle hit on the nose and a soft smooth finish on the palate. A freshness like a pineapple or a soft lemon, or if you want something sweet even a lychee smell. For something crisper a zingy, again subtle gooseberry and white flowers. A massive unsung hero in the white wine world for me is Falanghina!

Libby Zietsman-Brodie

Libby Zietsman-Brodie @libbyzietsmanbrodie

Libby is a passionate wine communicator: writer, presenter, host, content creator, City A.M. wine columnist and co-creator and host of the YouTube and IGTV series Boozy & The Beast: How to Drink Better. Webpage: Bacchus & Brodie.

— The best wines and wine experiences you've ever had.
— Wine has afforded me many incredible opportunities. Too many to name! I love to travel and thankfully, wine is never made in an ugly place. Gallivanting around Burgundy with my colleague Sophia Longhi, tasting wines and touching vines of producers I had only ever read about before was incredibly special. Wine-tasting in South Africa's stunning Franschhoek ahead of my wedding was beautiful, especially finding the "right" wines for the day. There was an oak-aged viognier by Lynx that blew everyone away. Sadly it is not yet available in the UK, but a lovely reason to go back - and South African wines will always have a place in my heart. But the truth is that opening any bottle of wine is an experience. There is a sense of ceremony to it. The wine itself changes moment to moment, both in the bottle and then in your glass. People who enjoy wine seem to have naturally generous spirits - we enjoy the flavour and we want to share it and talk about it. My Supper Club No. 9 partner Duncan McLean of Green Room Distillery had a wine and cheese dinner a couple of weeks ago and everyone brought a bottle or two. The generosity of the guests with the wines shared was really something. It was a wonderful evening where wine took centre stage in conversation and shared enjoyment. I brought a sample cask of Kopke's not-yet-released 50-Year-Old-Tawny and there was a moment where everyone fell silent just taking in its mesmerising qualities. There's beauty in the act of simply sharing a bottle with someone you like.

— What is your favourite wine for every day?
— An impossible question! My wine preferences change with mood and season and whatever you are pairing it with. I suspect that my answer now would not be my answer tomorrow but, right at this moment. I have a case of LeFlaive's Bourgogne Blanc 2017 that is available only to members of the Groucho Club, with a label designed by Damien Hirst. It's our house white currently and I'm devouring it. For an everyday red wine, I think Bruce Jack is not only a wonderful human - I have had the pleasure of interviewing him and meeting him in person and he really is the real deal - but also creates fantastically tasty wines. His Clean Slate Shiraz 2015 is superb.

— What is the oldest wine you have tasted and what was it like?
— That would be a Kopke Colheita Port from 1934. Incredible. To think that was when Hitler was coming into power and the Great Depression had just ended and somewhere on this little slope in Portugal, someone was still making their wine - with no idea what the world would look like today or that I would be sipping it in my living room in Balham in 2022. It's like a time capsule. And it still tastes absolutely brilliant.

— What qualities do you look for when buying wine?
— It is different when I buy for clients but for myself, I look at the producer and I also sometimes check who imported the wine, if you find a number of bottles you like come via the same importer then it is likely you have similar tastes. I like to taste around. Someone once said, "wine is a promiscuous pastime" because you don't just fill your home with the same wine that you like, part of the delight is trying new things and experimenting. And let me be honest, I can also be swayed by an attractive label. The point is to try, try, try!

Gary Rose

Gary Rose @The Wine Ninjas

Gary is a full-time magazine journalist and wine writer that also runs The Wine Ninjas: a wine-flavoured online magazine. Webpage: The Wine Ninjas.

 — The best wines and wine experiences you've ever had.
— Most of my top wine memories are from press trips, where I've been lucky enough to try the sort of wines I'd never buy at home. Drinking Chardonnay in Napa Valley was very special, as was the Pinot Noir and Riesling on a winery tour in Franken, Germany. Also, drinking Romanian red in Dracula's castle in Transylvania was great fun.

— What is your favourite wine for every day?
— Of course, I recommend that people don't drink every day, but I know what you mean. This changes all the time, but I always enjoy good French Sauvignon Blanc and English Pinot Gris - from the county of Sussex, where I live. Red-wise, a Bordeaux, a New World Bordeaux blend or a Chilean Cab.

— What is the oldest wine you have tasted and what was it like?
— Probably Madeiran wine on Madeira. I can't remember the year I tasted it, but they had some bottles in the winery that was over 200 years old. It was extremely rich, like a boozy fruit cake. Much tastier than the younger versions. They say it never stops getting better with age, but I don't know how true that is.

— What qualities do you look for when buying wine?
— I like boldness and complexity. In whites, I enjoy clean, soft tropical fruit flavours. In reds, I like plum, pepper, liquorice and tobacco notes.

James Cameron

James Cameron @james_c_somm

James Cameron is a wine communicator and General Manager/Head Sommelier at fine dining WOOD Restaurants in Manchester.

— The best wines and wine experiences you've ever had.
— The best wine experience I’ve ever had, and in fact the wine that really got me into the art of pairing wine with food, was at a Charles Heidsieck tasting at The French in Manchester in 2017. They paired Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millenaires 1995 with a homemade crumpet topped with Baron Bigod cheese and winter truffle, it was the first ever wine pairing that really clicked with me and got me hooked on wine pairings (and prestige champagne) ever since. Second to that would have been in 2019, when for a friend’s birthday (who’s a massive fan of Chateau Musar) I put together a vertical tasting of 7 vintages from the 80’s to the 00’s. Tasting one of my favourite wines across multiple vintages side by side was a revelation.

— What is your favourite wine for every day?
— I’m a great believer that fizz works for every occasion. If I could afford to I would drink champagne all day every day! Sadly, not many people’s budgets stretch that far, so my go-to would be traditional method sparkling wines from around the world, particularly Methode Cap Classique wines from South Africa, the value they offer is incredible. Viliera’s MCC Pinot Meunier is a go-to choice.

— What is the oldest wine you have tasted and what was it like?
— The oldest wine I’ve ever tasted was a Moscatel Madeira from d’Oliveiras 1900 vintages, the only way I can describe the taste is like pouring a rich espresso and molasses over crème brûlée. A sensational experience.

— What qualities do you look for when buying wine?
— I guess like with everyone the most important thing is that the liquid in the bottle is simply delicious. After that, I see my job as a sommelier mostly as a storyteller, so I look for a good story; learning the history of the winemaker, the winery and the region is one of the most fascinating things about wine for me. A good glass of wine should transcend from being a drink to taking you on a journey to a specific time and place.

Sophia Longhi

Sophia Longhi @skinandpulp

Sophia is certified wino, writer, teacher, taster and adventurer, that also runs virtual wine tastings and wine blog Skin & Pulp .

— The best wines and wine experiences you've ever had.
— The best wines I’ve ever had were at the 2021 Golden Vine Awards. In one meal, we had Dom Pérignon 2003, Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Kabinett Riesling, Domaine Baron Thénard Montrachet Grand Cru 2017, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands Échezeaux 2005 and Château D’Yquem 1988. It sounds like a last supper line up! It was crazy.

— What is your favourite wine for every day?
— Arpago Primitivo from I Pàstini in Puglia. I visited this winery a few years ago and bought some bottles by the case as it was such amazing value. Well-made, juicy red wine that goes with everything. You can even chill it in hot weather.

— What is the oldest wine you have tasted and what was it like?
— Perhaps Grange 1979. It hadn’t gone full tertiary - it still had concentration of black fruit! The notes of earth and old leather were almost haunting, but it was surprisingly fresh. I think I’ve tried PX wines that have been older, though, which are always delicious.

— What qualities do you look for when buying wine?
— Despite some of the wines I’ve listed here, I’m not generally a trophy wine hunter! I like wines that offer excellent value, so I look away from the famous names and regions. I like to buy local whenever I can, so I can taste the native grape varieties. I like wines with aromas I can get lost in and a finish that lingers, but the style depends on what I’m in the mood for at the time!