Tasting for the Queen, screw tops and the best summer wines with Jancis Robinson

One of the world’s leading wine critics, Jancis Robinson, visited Australia to sample some of Australia’s best drops and share her wisdom on all things wine.

Jancis has been one of the leading international voices in wine for more than 20 years, and among Jancis’ many accomplishments was being named a member of the Royal Household Wine Committee, which recommends bottles offered to guests at events at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. She also edited the Oxford Companion to Wine.

During her visit, she spoke to Clare Bowditch on the ABC Afternoons program. In case you missed the conversation, here are some of her pearls of wisdom, on everything from coping with tasting hundreds of wines a week and screw-on bottle tops.

How to choose a wine fit for the Queen

Jancis explained that a specially-selected committee meets about three times a year for a blind tasting session. It chooses on the basis of quality, rather than its origin or price. In fact, the prices for the wines included in the tasting have included tipples that cost just a fraction over $10.

“There is no such thing as a direct correlation between price and quality when it comes to wine,” Jancis said, with some wines overpriced and others underpriced.

Independent wine sellers or supermarkets?

Jancis likened wine shopping to book shopping, saying the best wines could be found at an independent store, where the buyer could talk to a knowledgeable staff member about their preferences. She said bigger retailers (at least in the UK) tended to focus on price, rather than quality.

“It’s [wine] a complicated subject – it’s no good saying it’s simple,” she said.

Screw top or cork?

Jancis was uncritical on the emergence of screw top wine bottles.

“I can understand why wine producers want to be sure that what they put in the bottle is what people drink,” she said.

Other benefits she named were the time saving nature of opening a screw top bottle, compared with a cork one. However, she also noticed a move towards using better-quality corks as a sign of handcrafting of wine by modern producers.

What are the best wines for summer?

Now that the weather has warmed up, everyone is wondering what is on the drinks menu. For Jancis, rose is the go-to wine for summer. She said while Australia has been quite slow to embrace “pink wine”, it was starting to become more popular.

She also said light reds including a gamay, Beaujolais or a slightly chilled pinot noir were well-suited to warm weather.

“Lighter bodied, refreshing lighter red wine is perfect for summer,” she sadi.

How much wine does a critic drink?

Some weeks, Jancis tests hundreds of different wines. How does she cope with the effects of all of this wine? By spitting. Jancis does not like drinking during the day, but tends to enjoy a glass or two at home with her husband every evening.

Jancis’ full interview is available on the ABC Melbourne website.

Improve your wine knowledge with The Oxford Companion to Wine.

 

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