Jancis Robinson / JancisRobinson.com
BY: Aaron MacLeanFollow @AaronBMacLean
My fiance, who is otherwise appropriately territorial, has told me that if ever I am going to be permitted a hall pass in our relationship it will be for Jancis Robinson alone. Robinson, who has been writing about wine for 40 years now, is the lead editor and general force behind The Oxford Companion to Wine,
The World Atlas of Wine, and Wine Grapesthis last, lavishly illustrated volume weighing in (an appropriate metaphor in this case) at 1,280 pages. She is the wine columnist for the Financial Times and edits an eponymous website for subscribersdevoted, of course, to the grape. In 1984, she became the first person not directly employed in the wine business to pass the hilariously demanding Master of Wine exam.
These are, to be clear, only the highlights. (Jancis, can we text?) Alas, even if bourgeois conventions are going to keep us apartRobinsons career also includes marriage to restaurateur and critic Nick Lander, not to mention three childrenI can still admire her writing, and most recently the fourth edition of the Companion. Long considered the standard text of wine scholarship, I feel comfortable (as an admirer of both wine writing and Oxford companions) in observing that it also sets a standard for the Oxford series. With a word count that puts it in the neighborhood of Proust and comfortably in advance of the King James translation of the Bible, it makes a serious play for comprehensiveness without sacrificing a recurring playful element. Wine writing is “a parasitical activity undertaken by wine writers”; when tasting, “most professional tasters demonstrate their devotion to duty rather than alcohol by spitting. There are no taste receptors in the throat.”
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