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Home   >  Wine Guides   >  Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson

Jancis Mary Robinson OBE, MW born in Cumbria on April 22, 1950 is a British wine critic, journalist and editor of wine literature. She currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and writes for her website She also provides advice forQueen Elizabeth II's wine cellar.

Robinson studied mathematics and philosophy at Oxford University and worked for a travel company after leaving university. Robinson started her wine writing career on December 1, 1975 when she became assistant editor for the trade magazine Wine & Spirit. In 1984 she became the first person outside the wine trade to become a Master of Wine. She also served as British Airways’s wine consultant, she supervised the famous BA Concorde cellar.

As a wine writer, she has become one of the world’s leading writers of educational and encyclopedic material on wine. The Oxford Companion to Wine, edited by Robinson, is generally considered to be the most complete wine encyclopedia. The first edition was published in 1994, and took five years to write after she was signed on as editor in 1988. In addition, The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson is one of the leading wine atlases.

In 1995, Jancis Robinson appeared in a 10-episode wine course on BBC 2 television. This series has later been reissued on DVD. A book titled Jancis Robinson's Wine Course was written to accompany the series and has gone through several editions.

She has an honorary doctorate from the Open University, and was made an OBE in 2003, among numerous other awards for her writing. Her accolades include multipleGlenfiddich Awards and André Simon Memorial Awards, and Decanter's "1999 Woman of the Year".

Following a difference of opinion with Robert Parker over the 2003 vintage of Château Pavie, the following media coverage frequently described a "war of words" between the two critics. Less dramatic than the predominant press view, Robinson and Parker have a cordial relationship.

Jancis Robinson is married to the food writer Nick Lander.


Vines, Grapes and Wines
by Jancis Robinson, ISBN 1-85732-999-6.

Vines, Grapes & WInes

This was my first major reference book, written back in the mid 1980s when it was obvious that grape varieties were going to become increasingly important. It's amazing though to think that in certain (mainly French) quarters that cépage (French for grape variety) was a dirty word. Funnily enough, when Hachette got round to publishing it in French as Le Livre des Cépages, it was a big success for them - presumably bought by growers rather than drinkers. The book is very pretty and still preferred by many to the more up-to-date pocket alternative.

The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd edition ed.)
by Jancis Robinson, ISBN 0-19-860990-6.

The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd edition ed.)

The Oxford Companion to Wine (Oxford University Press) is 'the greatest wine book ever published' according to Michael Franz, Washington Post, which was jolly nice of him. It is certainly my pride and joy, almost my fourth child, though it owes much to about 100 eminent contributors (I was the long-suffering editor). The first edition (1994) took five years of my life, this second one (1999) took another year or two. Half of the original 3000 alphabetically listed entries were updated and there are another 500 new ones. OUP and I are amazed by its success. I've spent s significant proportion of 2004 and 2005 updating this second edition so that a much-revised third edition, much-enhanced by input from Julia Harding MW, will be published in sep 06.

It has been published in German (running in to two volumes with all those long words) by Hallwag as Der Oxford Lexikon, in French by Hachette as L'Encyclopédie du Vin and, amazingly, in Danish as Oxford Vin Leksikon by a wonderful woman who has had to virtually create a Danish wine vocabulary.

Some unfortunate translators are currently hard at work on Japanese and Chinese editions which I find totally thrilling.

Wine Course
by Jancis Robinson, ISBN 0-563-37098-X
DVD (2 discs / 300’)

Wine Course

Jancis Robinson's Wine Course rides again! I have toiled away to revise, update and expand one of my most usueful books, the one I've come to call Oxford Lite - a full colour, beautifully-designed, bells-and-whistles introduction to wine designed for those who don't necessarily know anything at all about it - but all underpinned by Master of Wine knowledge ie, very solid facts under all the, I hope, encouraging prose. In this new edition are 32 more pages - an increase of 10 per cent, most of the new space going to New World wine regions, plus a bit more on Italy. The new, fully revised edition is also already available in German (Hallwag), Dutch (Spectrum), Danish (Gyldendal), Polish (WIG Press), Hungarian (Alexandra) and Spanish (Art Blume).

I wrote the original edition to go with our 10-part BBC TV series Jancis Robinson's Wine Course when it was first shown in 1995. It was designed to be a complete introduction to wine with the authority of the Oxford Companion but much more basic and with lots of lovely pictures. It was a bestseller in the UK and also published in the US, in Germany as Weinkurs and in France as Tout Apprendre sur le Vin. (It's the ultimate compliment to a wine author to see their book translated into French.) I revised the vintages and things for the paperback edition in 1999 but this new, longer book is a full and complete update, revision and expansion.

I am, as any regular visitor to this site must know by now, a workaholic, so I have gone through the original volume with a fine toothcomb and now believe it's as fine a hardbacked introduction to the delicious subject of wine as you could hope to find.

Here's a comment on the first edition: 'a vintage volume... the most notable volume of its kind since Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World wine course...Robinson makes you want to sign up for the course.' Peter M Gianotti, Newsday

Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes

Guide to Wine Grapes

Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes is a deceptively compact, pocket guide to the world's increasingly fascinating roster of relevant wine grape varieties. It was written a decade later than Vines, Grapes and Wines so is much more au courant.

It appeared in Danish in 1995, entitled Vin og Druer. It has also been translated into Italian as Guida ai Vitigni del Mondo by the admirable Slow Food movement (Slow Food Guide to Wine), something in Japanese by WANDS, Guia de Castas in Portuguese by Cotovia, and most spendidly in German by Hallwag with beautiful colour photographs of all the vines as Rebsorten.

'Robinson is to be congratulated for condensing so much information into such a tidy package, and for giving us, finally, a manageable book on wine grapes. We shall be using it often.' Quarterly Review of Wines

'lively, knowledgeable prose' Wine Spectator

Tasting Pleasure / Confessions of a Wine Lover
by Jancis Robinson , ISBN 0-14-023529-9.

Tasting Pleasure / Confessions of a Wine Lover

I was very flattered when a very senior, wine-loving editor at Viking, New York, asked me to write this 'professional memoir'. He called the US edition Tasting Pleasure; the UK edition also, coincidentally, published by Viking/Penguin, was known by the American subtitle, Confessions of a Wine Lover. It's the story of how I got into wine, the people I've met, places I've been and, most of all, what I've eaten, drunk and spat out. Some people said it made them feel rather queasy. It made me feel very old.

'she writes about wine and the people who make it in a style both personable and reporterly; she refuses to take herself too seriously; and she is something of a gossip' Coleman Andrews, Saveur

'worth buying just for the sections on the secret world of the Gallo dynasty and Robert Parker' Richard Neill, Daily Telegraph.

Jancis Robinson Tastes the Best Portuguese Table Wines

Jancis Robinson Tastes the Best Portuguese Table Wines

This particularly well designed pocket book is the result of summer 1999 spent tasting 250 of Portugal's best wines while on holiday in the Languedoc. The publisher drove two sample bottles of each over the Pyrenees to our southern French hideaway, and I had great fun catching up with the (red - most whites lag behind dreadfully) wine revolution in Portugal. Many of the wines discussed are the vintages currently available on export markets.

The book can be bought direct from the Portuguese publisher Fernanda Barros on She can quote prices to various destinations to include postage and packing.

Cotovia have also published it in Portuguese, as well as Jancis Robinson's Wine Course and Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes.

The Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America

The Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America

This is the main Oxford Companion's firstborn, a long-overdue, serious consideration of the world's fourth most important wine producer. Entries - on individual states, regions and wineries - are again listed alphabetically and easily navigable cross-references (how I have learnt to love cross-referencing!) make all the information easy to access. Bruce and a quiver of local experts have done a great job and are so candid that we started to receive letters from miffed producers several weeks before official publication.

'an important book' Frank Prial, New York Times

'this is a solid, admirable reference book that belongs on the shelf of anyone who is serious about wine' Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator

'impressive, 300-page tome. Its encyclopedic format is less daunting than it might be, thanks to clear writing and the maps, color photographs and 15 signed essays' William Rice, Chicago Herald Tribune

Jancis Robinson's Wine-Tasting Workbook / How To Taste

Jancis Robinson's Wine-Tasting Workbook / How To Taste

This is hot off the press, published and beautifully designed by Conran Octopus. It should really be called JR's Wine Course (but that title was already taken) because it's a way of learning about wine by a series of tasting exercises (not all of them involving wine). This is a heavily revised version of a book I did in 1983 called Masterglass which Mrs John Avery claims she used to teach her friends about wine. Revising it (substituting Jacob's Creek for Hirondelle) taught me a lot about how the world of wine has changed.

'clearly designed and commendably well written' Tim Atkin, The Observer, UK

'a thorough, no-nonsense approach to unlocking some of the mysteries of appreciating and enjoying wine' Frank Prial, New York Times

'for those who want to learn how to taste wine, the Robinson approach is hard to beat!' Gerald D Boyd, San Francisco Chronicle

'Robinson's reputation as a brilliant wine writer and expert, by anyone's definition, doesn't get in the way of her presenting a thoroughly helpful book, approachable, well-balanced and often fun' Bonnie Walker, San Antonio Express-News

Susy Atkins' pick of the bunch.

The US edition, called How to Taste is published by Simon & Schuster.

Jancis Robinson's Concise Wine Companion

Jancis Robinson's Concise Wine Companion

Jancis Robinson's Concise Wine Companion (Oxford University Press) is brand new. Basically it's the meatiest bits of the second edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine condensed and packaged in a convenient (if thick) paperback. It was horribly difficult to scrunch the OCW into a third the length - a job I couldn't even contemplate. But fortunately an extremely good, wine-mad copy editor Julia Harding has achieved this, with great rigour and sensitivity. We had to drop most of the history, all of the brandy and some of the more detailed bits on science and fortified wines, but it is a very high quality product! And has the most important appendices too.

'What a brilliantly simple and brilliantly obvious idea! absolute must-have.' Tom Cannavan,

The World Atlas of Wine (6th edition ed.)
by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson, ISBN 1845333012.

The World Atlas of Wine (6th edition ed.)

Clever old Hugh Johnson has taken advantage of my advanced workaholism and managed to persuade me to update his incomparable reference book. Two years of hard graft has resulted in the 5th edition, with dramatically revised texts and brand new maps - either the old ones made even clearer or new regions entirely.

For a taste of how this unique collaboration worked see World Atlas of Wine 5 - the inside story.

The most thorough revision yet of the classic World Atlas of Wine was published by Mitchell Beazley in September 2001 in the UK, and October 2001 in the US.

The Atlas is due to be published in the following countries between September and November 2002 (the name of the publisher is in brackets). France (Flammarion), Italy (Arnoldo Mondadori), Germany (Hallwag - Graefe & Unzer), Russia (Zhigulsky), Hungary (Park Kiado), Poland (Warsaw Investor's Group - WIG), Czech (Fortuna), Japan (Sancho Shuppan), Norway (Schibsteds), Denmark (Lindhardt & Ringhof), Finland (Tammi), Holland (Uitgeverij Het Spectrum)

'This is the best collaboration of two Brits since Lennon and McCartney', Ben Giliberti, Washington Post

'If you want to know more about wine, make a resolution to look up every bottle you have in this comprehensive book', Jill Dupleix, The Times (London)

'restores the Atlas to its position as the all-purpose go-to resource', Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator

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