Wine passions: Emma Jenkins MW

Emma Jenkins MW (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

A student recently asked,

“Who is the most passionate wine lover you know?”

I once met a bloke who had read the Oxford Companion to Wine from cover to cover. That would have been driven by passion verging on unhealthy fanaticism. Anyone who can recite the names of the 62 chateaux listed in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 would have to be a candidate unless they simply had a photographic memory. I suppose that the size of a person’s wine cellar could be a guide, although it may simply be a measure of wealth or an over-developed hoarding instinct.

Finally, I chose Emma Jenkins MW as the most wine enthusiastic person I have met. You must be pretty driven to tackle the Master of Wine exam but to do it while having babies is taking a love of wine to the extreme. I was completely knackered when I had young children and that was just from watching my wife do 90% of the parenting.

When Emma passed the Master of Wine written exam she had an 18-month old boy (George, now 10). She was four months pregnant when she sat the practical exam (I understand that pregnancy boosts taste perception so that may have been quite strategic). She discovered she’d passed that exam in September and Charlie, now 7, was born in November. She handed in her dissertation the following June. Emma finally learned she was a Master of Wine in 2011. Her youngest child, Arabella, was born two years later.

Emma studied Anatomy at Otago University, obtaining a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in 1999. Did I mention that she’s also very bright? She’d enjoyed wine with her parents and was curious about it but couldn’t imagine ever working in the wine industry.

At Otago, she joined the Robbie Burns Wine Club and with their help tasted an amazing collection of wines. She’d browsed through her tasting notes from her university days and was amused at their brevity. Comments like “yum” and “like this one” were frequent entries.

“The more good wine I tasted the more I was hooked,” commented Emma.

Bacchus was slowly reeling in his line.

After university, she returned home and got a summer job at Scenic Cellars. It lasted seven years. During that time she studied for her Winemaking and Viticulture diploma at EIT in Hawke’s Bay. She told me that I had encouraged her to have a crack at her Master of Wine exams.

Emma is now a freelance wine writer who is in high demand on the wine judging circuit. The greatest wine she has ever tasted is 1947 Marc Bredif Vouvray and her favourite wines are Champagne,

“you can drink it anytime with anything and it is always delicious.” And Madeira, “an amazing and underrated wine.”

A special mention to Emma’s husband Matthew who does more than his share of the parenting.

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