A proud moment – rubbing shoulders with leading Australian wine women at the Australian Women in Wine Awards 2017: l to r Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix (Winemaker of the Year), Sue Hodder, Wynns (Inspirational Woman of the Year), Jennifer Doyle, Jansz (Viticulturist of the Year), Ebony Tinkler, Usher Tinkler Wines (Marketer of the Year), me (Honorary Australian Woman of Wine), Sarah Collingwood, Four Winds Vineyard (Owner/Operator of the Year).  Photo credit Wine Australia

A wine tasting course was the catalyst for my re-invention from lawyer to purveyor, raconteur and professional imbiber of wines. As they say, converts are always the worst and I love sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm about wine through tastings, wine writing, now wine tours. There is no better way to combine pleasure and learning!

I started off my wine career with multi-award winning wine merchants Oddbins in 2000, managing Oddbin’s flagship Fine Wine Store in the city between 2003 and 2005. Since striking out on my own in 2005 as an independent wine writer and educator, I have become an acknowledged authority on the wines of Portugal and Australia.

Revista de Vinhos

Pictured with my selection of 10 most impressive Portuguese wines 2018

In addition to publishing The Wine Detective website, I write a monthly column for Revista de Vinhos and regularly contribute to other leading wine magazines, including Decanter and The World of Fine Wine. I have contributed to key reference books on my areas of expertise, including:

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book (Portugal, Port & Madeira, from 2006-2016),

Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson  MW’s The World Atlas of Wine (6 ed., 7th & 8th ed., Portugal & Australia)

Jancis Robinson MW’s & Julia Harding MW’s The Oxford Companion to Wine (4th ed., Portugal) – “we have benefited from the new brooms wielded with particular energy by Walter Speller, who has rewritten most of the Italian entries, Huon Hooke on Australia, Sarah Ahmed on Portugal, and David Schildknecht, who has done the same for Germany and Austria,” said Jancis.

Barack Obama

Another proud moment – being introduced to president Barack Obama at the Climate Change Leadership Porto Summit 2018, whilst reporting for Decanter

Other book and online contributions include: 1001 Wines You Must Drink Before You Die (editions1 & 2), The Wine Opus, 1000 Great Wines, Oz Clarke Pocket Wine Book, Wine Behind the Label, Wine-Searcher and Blend, all about wine.

Broadcast experience includes appearances on BBC Radio 4 and ABC TV’s Landline.

Chairing the Portugal panel - Decanter World Wine Awards

Chairing the Portugal panel – Decanter World Wine Awards

In demand as a judge and speaker at home and abroad, I am delighted to be counted among Decanter’s “experts par excellence” in my capacity as Regional Chair, Portugal at Decanter World Wine Awards and was one of four “UK leading wine experts” judging Oddbins’ The Palate 2014.

Bar Douro – Home of Portuguese Wine; photo credit Bar Douro

I am also ‘Wine Guru’ for Bar Douro Bottle Shop and select cutting edged wines for Bar Douro Wine Club’s Discovery Box.

Click here for client and press testimonials.


Portuguese wine writer award 2009

The Portuguese Ambassador Antonio Santana Carlos presents me with The Portuguese Wine Writer of the Year Award 2009

Photo credit: Axel Probst

Anointed a Cavaliero of Confraria do Vinho do Porto. Photo credit: Axel Probst

  • Wines of Portugal Personality of the Year 2019 (Europe)
  • Star line up, wine expert at Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2018
  • Honorary Australian Woman in Wine 2017, Australian Women in Wine Awards
  • Cavaliero of Confraria do Vinho do Porto (Port brotherhood)
  • One of 14  international wine opinion leaders selected for The Landmark Australia Tutorial 2010
  • Short-listed for the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Wine Communicator of the Year 2010
  • Portuguese Annual Wine Awards Wine Writer of the Year 2009
  • Short-listed for the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Wine Communicator of the Year 2009
  • Finalist, the Women of Wine Awards 2007

One of 14 “international wine opinion leaders” selected for The Landmark Australia Tutorial 2010



Receiving the Rouyet Guillet Cup – WSET Diploma 2003

  • The Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma (Distinction); as top graduate, awarded the Rouyer Guillet Cup (re-named the Vintners’ Cup), Geoffrey Jameson Award and Vintners’ Scholarship
  • WSET Higher (Distinction); awarded the Vintners’ Bursary
  • WSET Certificate

Judging activities

Judging at the Hunter Valley Wine Show 2015, photo credit: Singleton Argus

Judging at the Hunter Valley Wine Show 2015, photo credit: Singleton Argus

  • 2019 – McLaren Vale Show
  • 2017 – The Limestone Coast Show
  • 2017 – Grand Juror, Wines of Portugal Challenge 2017
  • 2016 – The Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show
  • 2015 – Hunter Valley Wine Show
  • 2014, 2015 – Oddbins’ “The Palate”
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 – Wines of Portugal Sommelier Quest
  • 2013 – 125th Rutherglen Wine Show, Australia
  • 2013 – Wolf Blass Master Blend Classification
  • 2013 – Wines of Portugal Challenge, Portugal
  • 2012 – Concurso Nacional de Vinhos, Portugal
  • 2011 onwards – Regional Chair for Portuguese table wines, Decanter World Wine Awards, London
  • 2009 – Vinipax, Alentejo, Portugal
  • 2009 – Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia, Mount Barker
  • 2009 – Essencia do Vinho Top 10  Portuguese Wines, Porto
  • 2009 – Interloire Project Sauvignon Blanc Ambassadors’ Tasting, the Loire
  • 2009, 2010 – The International Wine Challenge, Senior Judge
  • 2008 – Annual Chile Wine Awards, Santiago
  • 2006 onwards – Decanter World Wine Awards, London, (Loire, Portugal, Chile, Australia)
  • 2006 onwards – Decanter panel tastings, London
  • 2006-2007 – Wine & Spirit Sommelier Challenge, London
  • 2007 – Interloire Project Cabernet Franc Ambassadors’ tasting, the Loire
  • 2007 – Wine & Spirit Muscadet Panel, London
  • 2006 – Union des Oenologues de France Rendez-Vous de Chenin Blanc & Cabernet Franc, the Loire
  • 2004 – Union des Oenologues de France Rendez-Vous de Chenin Blanc, the Loire

Hands-on experience

Vintage experience in Spain (Bodegas Torres), South Africa (Boekenhoutskloof) and Australia (Cullen) and an introduction to winemaking course at Plumpton College, Sussex.

Vintage at Cullen Wines, Margaret River

Hats & hands on: vintage at Cullen Wines, Margaret River

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