Wine Relief 2011 by Jancis Robinson MW


Much of my time at the moment is being spent encouraging wine lovers to participate in Wine Relief, our biennial chance to make a concrete contribution to Comic Relief’s carefully-monitored, life-changing projects in Africa and the UK.

My husband Nick Lander and I had the idea of encouraging wine lovers to help others in 1999 and since then WineRelief has managed to raise a total of almost £4 million, with much of that having come from a 10% donation generated by sales of specially selected wines by the major retailers. But the real spirit of Wine Relief as we envisioned it at the beginning was that it would involve a really wide range of wine people and wine merchants engaged in a variety of activities, schemes and fundraising mechanics. I am thrilled to report that this seems to be happening this year.

Berrys, bless them, blazed the trail two years ago when they raised the magnificent total of £144,000 for Wine Relief 2009 via a truly memorable Château Latour dinner and auction. This year they are auctioning a Wine Relief Dinner for 10 in their atmospheric boardroom with Simon Berry and me, the wines poured to reflect the amount bid – so please find out how to get bidding and let’s have a memorable celebration!

One other event you might be interested in is a very special bring-a-bottle dinner I am organising at Clarke’s restaurant in Kensington on Monday 14 March called La Paulée de Purple Pages after the famous bottle party lunch that takes place in the village of Meursault on the Monday after the Hospices de Beaune sale every November known as La Paulée de Meursault. (Purple Pages are the members’ bit of my wine information website You can read full details of the event here.

I realised that the name might be a mite confusing when I urged my favourite London-based Frenchman to come. He is a great food and wine lover who is also extremely generous and I thought he would be absolutely our target market and be familiar with the concept. But his response was ‘please, what is a Paulée?’ I should have remembered that he is never shy of expressing ignorance. When a friend of his rang him to boast, ‘I’ve just bought myself a Bentley and I’m ringing you to gloat’, my favourite Frenchman’s response was a deflating, ‘please, what is “gloat”?’

Jancis Robinson MW