See also this revealing tribute by Patrick Schmitt MW of The Drinks Business whom Mel mentored in the Master of Wine exams he passed a year ago.
Melanie Jones, relatively young Master of Wine, one of the two Birds with Bottle (see their most recent video here), founder of the useful QuaffersOffers, and erstwhile contributor to this website, died this morning in hospital near her home in Stroud, Gloucestershire. She had been in intensive care with heart problems, having recently suffered a stroke, possibly as a consequence of chemotherapy for cancer, according to her husband David Kearney.
Mel and I met frequently at wine tastings and, being two of the keenest users of laptops at such events, were always competing for the most suitable perches for our hardware – in the friendliest possible way. She was far from loud and boisterous, and wore her considerable knowledge and talents lightly, which is why I was so surprised when she told me she also performed as a stand-up comic. But I'm told she was a great comic poet in Victoria Wood mode. I always knew she had a great sense of humour, and accepted the challenges life presented her with with admirable fortitude and not a shred of complaint.
Mel qualified as an MW in 2010 and has been extremely active in the Master of Wine study programme, running the Practical Only part of the programme in Europe only last year. According to Penny Richards of the Institute of Masters of Wine, she gained many fans among both student body and her fellow MWs. Even in the last few months, she had been leading the development of practical guidelines for MWs involved in seminars and course days – something that will be of great use and influence well into the future, according to Penny.
All this was done with extreme efficiency, good humour and grace. Examples of her no-nonsense, well-informed writing include this 2008 article Sainsbury's – can you tell the difference? on this site, and this introduction to Quaffers Offers:
'While I am proficient in tasting wine and became a Master of Wine in 2010 and so have some authority, I think it’s also interesting to hear the opinions of serious wine lovers and also complete beginners who add a fresh and non-snobby slant on things. Although I think as wine lovers we sometimes lean towards snobbishness, we are also fiercely keen on a bargain.'
Thank you for all your hard work on our behalf, Mel.