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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
15 Apr 2013

So far we have published:

Very brief survey of your wishes
Brief survey results - part 1 (frequency of emails to you)
Brief survey results - part 2 (how to improve the mobile version)
Brief survey results - part 3 (general appreciation, for which very many thanks)

Part 5 will follow with commonly made comments, criticisms and suggestions for improvements to how the site operates and Part 6 will be all those suggestions about the content of what we publish.

This Part 4 is a long list of comments, for which we are extremely grateful, which we feel we can address immediately.

The advantage of making our survey anonymous was probably that it helped to encourage such an impressive response rate (1,582 responses in less than three days), but the disadvantage of course is that we can't contact you directly to help with specific problems. Below is the best we can do, but always please feel free to use the Contact button below right.  As in earlier parts, we have not edited respondents' comments. Do feel free to make any further points via the Comments box below.

Specifics we can help with immediately

Sometimes it takes a long time to load and that can become very frustrating. I typically have to cancel and then retry. Thanks for conducting this survey and asking for our input.
Could you kindly email and Tam Currin will do her inimitable best to help you.

The payment resource you use is difficult to navigate and not user friendly when renewing.
I'm afraid that, like all independent websites, we have to use an outside payment provider to process orders, in our case Worldpay. It calls itself the ' Global Leader in Payment Services' but we know it can sometimes be horribly inflexible and we apologise. Our membership supremo Rachel Shaughnessy on is always on hand to answer your queries. Though please do pass on any specific suggestions as to how we might better design the process of renewing, for which we thank you in advance. For the record, this is the only comment we received about the payment process.

Make an app so that your content can be viewed off-line.
This is one of several suggestions concerning apps made in answer to this general question. Kindly see Part 2.

It's a tiny niggle, but the print article to PDF feature doesn't seem to be working properly. Nothing to be improved with the content, it's great already.
You're quite right that the print article and print article to PDF icons top right of articles were at one stage fairly recently ineffectual but they work fine now. You'll find that the PDF features as a download (bottom left of the screen on my laptop), but if you click to open it and use the print symbol it prints perfectly for me.

When I look up your comments on wines, I realise that sometimes you delete comments on older vintages long before they reach the end of their 'plateau' of consumption.
I can assure you that we never delete tasting notes unless we realise they are exact duplicates. I come from the north and believe strongly in 'waste not, want not'.

Review not lively (dull). Better with some techncial substances and also interesting drinking and wine tour experience.
I'm sorry but I don't understand these comments. Feel free to explain via Contact/General enquiries.

I know it is very dificult and could not be in the editorial policies , but I would like to see more comments and suggestions on wine and food pairings. Just a short paragraph after some tasting notes would be interesting. For a normal person, at least for me, most of the time I enjoy wine with food. And I drink wine, at least in one meal a day!
Have a food-wine match page be able to purchase wine online that is presented
I would like you to write articles about wine-food combinations
It's pretty good already - maybe more features on food/wine pairing?
I'd love an even more sophisticated/detailed wine/food matcher.

Thank you for these five comments on a common theme. No-one could enjoy wine with food and food with wine more than me,  and I am fully aware that our food and wine matching feature (part of the extensive Instant expert section) is relatively sketchy BUT I am extremely loth to be more specific because I do not subscribe to the view that finding ideal matches of food and wine are that important. I also feel that suggesting otherwise can make wine drinking seem more complicated than it is. What is the worst thing that can happen if your food and wine don't got together perfectly? I suggest you eat what you feel like and drink what you feel like and they will probably not clash. If they do, just have a healthy mouthful of water between each mouthful.

I use the site in many ways but the principal benefit is information about travelling to and visiting wine regions, so I look for background on topography, wine and grape varieties, good producers to visit (ie accessible and welcoming as well as makers of good wine), so whilst the news items are usually interesting, I also use the archived travel forum, the wine atlas and archived blogs. I'm not a hugely knowledgeable connoisseur nor able to afford a lot of the fancy wines mentioned in some posts or forum blogs. But wouldn't it be just so excellent if there was an on-line version of your grape varieties tome ( I have a copy of my own) that we could access when abroad, or let us have the Kindle version too included in the original purchase price. It's just too heavy to cart around on holiday, which is when it would be most useful.
We are delighted to say that an electronic version of Wine Grapes is being designed at this moment. We authors were anxious that, despite the limitations of the various forms of hardware, not least the Kindle, the material should be as easy to access as possible. Hence the delay. It should be available by September or October at the latest.

The oxford companion is an important asset to your site, and it remains unclear to me what you wil do with the other excellent works you publsih, like your book on wine grapes...
An e-version of Wine Grapes will be published by Penguin later this year.

How do we know that you have updated the site and specially OCW. Somers I get the feeling that this is not up to date with the articles that we received?
I'm afraid Julia and I have been so very busy with Wine Grapes, American Wine and the 7th edition of The World Atlas of Wine (which will be published this October) that we haven't had a great deal of time to update the 3rd edn of the Oxford Companion to Wine. The online version that is exclusive to Purple Pages members is certainly the most up to date version of the Companion but we haven't signalled obviously how it differs from the most recent printing of the 3rd edn. This is something we can look at when the 4th edn goes online, though we haven't even started work on it yet. OUP hope to publish this 4th edn in October 2015. We'd better get our skates on.

All ok for me. Maybe a more specific idea about the best time to drink the wines reviewed.
We do try to suggest a drinking window for every wine we taste. The best time to drink the wines we review is during the period mentioned eg 'Drink 2013-20'.

More about Bordeaux wines. Tastings should always be totally blind.
Thanks a lot for the feedback. We always taste blind when we can and when we think it useful (comparing like with like, for example). But as you probably know, in the Bordeaux primeurs context - uppermost on our minds at the moment for obvious reasons - there are certain Châteaux that refuse to have their wine tasted blind. And then there are other contexts in which I believe it is more revealing not to taste blind - a vertical tasting of an important wine, for example, such as the recent tasting of all vintages of Hill of Grace. I found it much more instructive to know which vintage I was tasting than if they had all been mixed up.

Would be a great help to have more info or even a rating on value for money on wines tasted and current approximate prices.
I wish we could include rough prices for all wines but it is difficult when many of them are as yet unreleased, and/or available only in a handful of countries and/or too old to be available commercially.  Kindly bear in mind that our Purple Pages members are in 100 different countries so it is difficult to be definitive about prices of even current releases. I do think that providing a Find this wine link to on which you can set your country/state preferences is the best general solution to this difficult problem - although we do include UK prices when we know them.

Easier access to vintage information by region.
Kindly see our Vintage guide on the free bit of the site in the Instant expert category. But you're right that we should add notes on 2012 now and if necessary update comments on earlier vintages. And we will be looking at how to improve navigation in general.

Good search tools already. Perhaps a note to subscribers when a new post goes up.
A new post goes up two or three times every single day, which is why we are more moderate than most about emailing members with news of new material but, as explained in Part 1, we are examining the mechanics of more frequent mailings.

I am unsure when new tasting notes are added to the site (except when they form part of an article). What would be of massive use would be a simple link to see the "latest reviews added" (page after page of them, perhaps 100 per page or something).
Wouldn't this be rather indigestible? For the moment the best way to monitor this is to keep looking at the most recent Tasting articles by clicking on that category in the horizontal menu. But we do also add tasting notes we describe as Standalones that are not part of tasting articles. We shall discuss with our developer how we can give you easy access to these.

Probably impossible but I would like an attempt to explain very different scores for the same wine in your notes. More on vintages at specfic periods in time - for drinking windows.
This is a good idea; I'll add an explanation of our policy on multiple notes on the same wine to the opening page of the tasting notes search

The tasting notes are not always easy to find within the large number available. I would advise to review the search and query possibilities within your website. But in essence the search should be improved to provide more hits on search as well as access to the large information archive available.
Many people are suggesting refinements to navigation (see Part 5) which we will follow up.

In the Forum (Members Only) section, put five items rather than three. I don't check the site daily, so I like the idea of being able to take a quick look at more recent posts.
Make the list of recent articles longer. It's not helpful if I visit the site a couple of times a week.

Thanks for these separate comments. We can certainly look at redesigning the home page so as to fit more on. I wonder how many people check the tweets below the forum posts, for instance?

I'm not sure how to handle this one, but since I read the site from the U.S., I'm especially interested in wines that might be found here (in New York in my case). You sometimes have an early mention of whether a wine or a line of wines has only limited distribution, or is available internationally, and I always find that useful. I do keep reading if it turns out that it is only available in London or Bristol, but might pay closer attention if I thought I could find it locally. Finally, I encourage what I think of as a somewhat more frequent attention to wines from South America, as well as to more modestly priced wines. I love reading about wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux that I once enjoyed with some frequency, but that rising tide we keep hearing about has floated them out of reach for regular appearances on our table.
Lots of people now asking for increased coverage of less expensive wines. Good call. Noted. Though less expensive wines have a tendency to be more market-specific than the well-known classics that enjoy more international distribution.

The search engine part of the OCW is a little difficult to navigate in terms of having to type in 'region' v 'topic' as depending on how you have the search set up it may not come back with the correct response. When has time, streamlining the search engine for the OCW would be what would make this reader the happiest
Thanks for the feedback. When I'm looking for something in the OCW I find it works very well if I just click on Oxford Companion in the horizontal menu, which automatically sets the dropdown menu by the search box to Oxford Companion. I then key in the term I'm looking for and - hey, presto - there is the main entry at the top and other entries mentioning the topic listed below it. 

I like your tastings, for me they are an additional voice to Quarin, Parker, Tanzer which I also read The front page of the website is an incredible mess, whoever has designed that should be jailed! Let's therefore go back to basics. First and foremost 1) People want to know what vintages from what regions you recently have tasted and read about it. And only then 2) read other wine related stuff that may or may not be interesting. That should be visable/separated on your front page. Other improvement: Your search function is lightyears behind of what is possible a parker. For example if I put "Chave Hermitage" into your search window I get wines from Chapoutier as an aswer, WTF! Get this fixed immediately, it is embarassing especially in comparison to your two super high quality books (Atlas, Oxford Companion). Your team has to understand in the century of the website, it is the website people measure you by, not the books. Books are the 20th century... Other than that, continue your good work and continue to give Parker shit if he gives 100 Points to Grape Syrup! :-)
What makes me think you are an American male…?! I'm not 100% sure all visitors to the site share your priorities but let's see if you garner support. I won't shoot anyone but do value your input on the home page design. What I would like to explain is why Chapoutier TNs come up when you put Chave into the tasting notes search. It's because Chave will have been mentioned in those Chapoutier TNs.  I'm pretty sure we could stop this happening but is it really so annoying and irrelevant? Feedback on this issue would be welcome via the Comments box below.

I think it is pretty good as it is now. I have one request though. There is too much bias towards French wines. I would like more tasting notes and articles on Italian wines which are underrated by you, in my opinion.
Gottit. Working on it

I would like to see the layout of the tasting notes improved, perhaps a WSET style. I would like to see more on education. Sometimes i find the serch funstion not that useful, prehaps more of an 'advanced serach' style you see on some sites would help.
I'm afraid I'm loth to force all TNs into the same format. I'd like to keep the option of reproducing visceral reactions to wines rather than following a prescribed pattern.  But we do have an Advanced search. See the extreme top right of the home page, just to the right of the big word 'Search'. It can drill down to find really very specific things in my experience. Hope you find this helpful.

Generally, v. good web-site... ...p'haps mention more often the small indies as stockists on wine reviews (with links), (agencies should have the info.)
We do bend over backwards to support independent retailers, I promise.  Though please don't hesitate to suggest deserving new retailers we should list in our Where to buy section in the vast Instant expert category.

Just my bias, and not necessarily a JR priority = I subscribe exclusively for access to JR wine ratings. I'm also a regular user of - so ideally, all JR wine ratins are automatically tied in, whenever I access CT for a rating wine rating that also has a JR rating. Alas -- this is not always so. Therefore= just my bias = please improve the JR tie-in with CT ratings - especially - the apparent TIME-LAG that occurs in uploading most recent JR ratings in the JR rating library.
Thanks very much for this prod. We are delighted that our TNs are integrated with Cellartracker but you're right, we need to update regularly. We have just sent the latest update to Eric LeVine of CT and plan to automate this in future.

Please send an e-mail when something new is posted. Thanks
We publish two or three new articles every day so I don't think this is practicable. Kindly visit more often!

A detailed explanation of Jancis's tasting methods and philosophy including the basis for alotting points would be very interesting.
Good idea. Will add to the opening page of the tasting notes search

A frequently asked questions section would be good. Perhaps it is all there but I have never acessed it and do not know where to look. Ditto about Jancis's team and who does what would be of value too. I would however advise against the public mea culpas recently seen in the Robert Parker web site. However I would suggest a testomy to independence and a corporate ethics governance statement would be very useful. One last point. Perhaps inevitably the Purple Pages are a little UK focussed. A more Unternational focus and particularly European focus wiould be welcome but I suspect it would explode your resouce and cost base. The question of other langages is of course then a corollary.
There is an Site FAQs section accessible from the bottom of any page, but perhaps you have other questions in mind? Also at the bottom is the Team Jancis section which introduces the team, and we have a statement of our ethical policy on the join-up page and it was recently added to the extreme right of the horizontal menu. But you're right that it is these permanent features that are updated too rarely. Points taken.

Too many steps to access your wine ratings would be nice if your opinions on wines could be fed into CellarTracker so that they can be easily referenced when looking at either CT or the CellarVu app
Our tasting notes are integrated into CellarTracker, and a whole new tranche has just been sent. See above. Though you do have to be a member of Purple Pages to take advantage of this.

Make portions of your free with other portions to pay a fee.
About a fifth of all articles published on our site are free, and every month we choose two articles from Purple Pages of the previous month to be free.

Have a slightly more sophisticated function i.e. when a search does not match the description in your database a question should appear stating " do you mean Jancis?" when the searcher had entered Jansis or Janis.
When I originally enquired about this I was told it was prohibitively expensive but let me investigate once more.

Tasting notes .It would be really helpful to have the drinking range on the summary page. Eventualy some sort of cellar management help. I would love to be able to flag the wines specific year that I have and have some alert when you write about it particularly when you review one and change drinking bracket .
I assume you mean you'd like the drinking window on the page of tasting notes search results? Let me look into this.

The language in the reviews often contains somewhat abstract language that is difficult to interpret. I found a review which suggested that the wine might be "airline wine". What does this mean? I beleive Jancis consults or has consulted for airlines so can this be a pejorative term. In short I would appreciate a little more clarity. It would also help if the note and the score corresponded better. It is very irritating to see a positive review with a modest mark and vice versa a rather negative note with a rather better score. This, if possible would enhance our understanding.
Very frustrating, I'm sure.  Do email us about strange combinations of note and score as sometimes the score has been mis-entered.  'Airline wine' is one that is drinkable early and rather obvious in my book, based on my experience between 1995 and 2010 when I resigned as British Airways wine consultant.  Our palates dry out in the air so subtle wines are not very suitable for airlines.

Do you have any "legacy" tasing notes that you don't post? I have a fair bit of older wine,, 80s & 90s claret, and I sometimes don't find notes on such vintages. I tend to largely use the site when deciding WHEN to drink wines and when deciding en primeur orders.
I do have notes on older vintages drunk at dinners etc but they tend to be rather brief - because written while socialising - and often don't have a score. Could you live with even more perfunctory notes than the ones I publish?

Make it free
We are very conscious of how much good material on wine is published free, which is why we constantly try to improve what we have to offer. This survey is a very helpful aid to that. But we have never accepted ads or sponsorship and really, really relish our independence. We have three almost fulltime staff members and seven part timers as well as two regular columnists, all of whom we try to reward fairly. So I'm afraid 'free' is out of the question.

A launch page for the Oxford Companion rather than a 'click here' link.
You mean you would rather go straight to this page and do away with this introductory page? I must say that I find I use the Oxford Companion search as my most frequent way to access it. Has anyone else any thoughts about how this massive work (about 800,000 words of solid wine reference) is presented?

You follow up coverage of Bdx 2010 (in teh bottle) is ridiculous. Why bother at all to tast the few bottles ?
I assume you are referring to the brief comparison of 2010, 2009 and 2008 that was published in May 2011 and somehow missed these three much longer collections of tasting notes on 2010 in bottle:
Bordeaux 2010 in bottle Nov 2012 
Bordeaux 2010 - Crus Bourgeois impress Oct 2012 
Bordeaux 2010 - reassessed Apr 2012 
The most effective way to find our coverage of a specific combination of region and vintage is via Tasting articles by region which lists all tasting articles by region and then by vintage. But we will think about a way of making this even more obvious.

Some of the tasting notes could be slightly less perfunctory!
Agreed. Will try to mend my ways (I know to whom this comment is aimed).

Some serious wines have ratings from several tastings, often with a large range of results, so difficult to form an overall opinion. In such cases some guidance would be appreciated.
It's interesting to see many different ratings for the same wine but could we have a final rating?
ur notes reflect the reality in our experience that wines can vary enormously from bottle to bottle, which I know must be a bit frustrating. Much easier to be given one definitive view of a wine. I'll make an effort to include phrases such as ' a particularly disappointing bottle' more frequently. But I find that wines keep changing throughout their life so a 'final rating' would probably not be possible until the comment 'definitively over the hill'.

When recommending wines it would be useful if you identify the UK merchants in the review paragraph rather than just link to wine-searcher.
We do include them when we know them but even then feel a bit bad about the significant proportion, roughly 70%, of visitors to who are not based in the UK. Those in the US, for example, comprise about a quarter of all visitors.

Could you sell ebook version of "Wine Grapes", "Oxford Companion of Wine", "World Atlas of Wine" on
See above for news of the ebook version of Wine Grapes. Purple Pagers have access to the only online version of the 3rd edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine. Julia and I are just about to start work compiling the 4th edition, of which there will certainly be an e-version, I'm sure. But the paper version will not be published until October 2015.  We are just finishing the 7th edition of the Atlas which is due out this October and I think there are plans to sell e-versions of sections of it.  We will of course update our books section accordingly with appropriate links to those who specialise in selling ebooks.

Access to maps from the Wine Atlas?
We do provide access to all the maps from The World Atlas of Wine. See here.

Bigger database More tasting notes
We're trying, really we are!  But of course there is a necessary tension between these two requests:  'more tasting notes' and 'less perfunctory tasting notes'…