About Claire

I started my introduction into wine at a fairly young age. My parents always insisted that we dress for a more formal dinner on a Sunday evening and my sister and I were always allowed a small amount of wine with a dash of lemonade. I really enjoyed this part of the meal so much, probably for as long as I can remember. On the down side, this classy mix did feed my desire for Lambrusco for most of my late teen years!

After I left University, I got my first full time job working in a hotel in Stratford upon Avon and I still remember vividly the first time I was shown into the wine store. The unmistakable smell of dusty wood and cardboard mixed with the faint smell of wine went right through to my core and there it stayed. I started to teach myself about wine from that point on keeping a little diary and making notes although not really knowing what I was doing at that stage. A couple of years later, my husband and I opened our first restaurant and in that first year, I learnt so very much from our then sole wine supplier Pierre Henck. His passion for wines was hypnotic and I would listen intently to everything he would tell me about the wines and then go away and read up even more.

I took over the wine list in our second year and would start my life times vocation of train journeys to London to taste wines to bring back to the restaurant. When we had our first daughter together in 2006, I found I was finally forced to slow down for a while and took to the books, literally. I put my passion for reading to good use and studied and passed to Diploma Level, the highest level of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust qualifications.

Now, using our restaurant in Birmingham as a back drop I am able to truly indulge myself in the wine list using 12 different wine suppliers to make up my 300 bottled wine list. With currently 7 different English wine producers on my list, most of whom I buy direct, I feel I have finally completed my goal of my “perfect” list. This, confirmed with our consistent listing as one of the AA Restaurant Guide’s “notable wine lists” each year and The Good Food Guide’s best wine list in the Midlands 2013 & 2014. We also reached the finals of the Louis Roederer Wine List of the Year in the UK and the only restaurant in the Midlands to get to the finals.

I now use my nearly 20 years of experience in the industry to work with others and spend much of my time developing wine lists for other restaurants and wine bars and helping train and educate. When not in a restaurant of some sort, I am out talking about wine with others in the form of tastings, both private and corporate and divide the rest of my professional time in London between tasting wines and judging.