Jancis Robinson

Financial Times

Jancis Robinson, the FT’s wine columnist since 1989, is widely considered the global authority on wine – with no caveats for nationality or gender. Jancis built her reputation on commitment to her craft and to that of those she covers, making the wine world relevant to all. This is on display in the magazine every week. This year alone, she reported from four continents. And it is a point of pride that her columns are hard to fact-check – without exception, they contain never-before-published insights.

In a year of economic and environmental dislocation, Jancis continued to show how the story of wine is remarkably central: it is about geopolitics (“Moldova navigates the politics of wine-making”), economics (“Can Chinese wine compete with the world?”) and markets (“The good and bad news for UK wine buffs”). It is also about climate change, which Jancis has meaningfully addressed in 18 of her columns over the past 12 months.

Her campaign for lighter bottles – and her naming and shaming of those who still equate weight with quality – has had a real impact on consumer and industry decision-making. In fact, Jancis’s column is one of very few in the UK to have shaped the industry on which it comments. (One fun example: when Jancis interviewed winemaker Liam Idzikowski this January - “Love California? Try Essex” - she learned “it was an episode of a BBC TV series I presented back in the 1990s that set him off on his wine journey”.)

Jancis continued to demonstrate she has no fear of holding power to account. When the emperor has no clothes on, she says so (“Price, Quality and the Problem of Wine Cultism”). And when she persuaded the elusive Barbara Banke to be interviewed at Ascot (“My day at the races with the unknown queenpin of wine”), she didn’t hesitate to write critically of Banke’s reliance on private flights.

Most importantly, she continued to break new ground. Working with Food & Drink editor Harriet Fitch Little, Jancis took over an entire issue of the magazine for the first time, answering 121 reader questions (“Jancis Robinson knows you find wine confusing. This guide is going to help”). As well as leaning into the novel format, Jancis revealed her enthusiasm for moving with the times; she celebrated biodynamic wines – and told readers there’s nothing wrong with putting ice in it.

Jancis’ influence stems from the fact she writes about wine in a way that is accessible – but never basic. In a survey conducted this year, 76 per cent of readers who described their knowledge of wine as “expert” said our coverage was “just right” – as did an astonishing 71 per cent of readers who described their knowledge as “average”. No wonder, Jancis is gaining a new, younger readership. At a time when most wine columns have been shrunk or reformatted into listicles, it is crucial to honour a columnist who represents the golden standard – and who always files on time!