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Sebastian Payne MW

Sebastian Payne MW

Became an MW 1977

Based in United Kingdom

Languages English, French, Italian


Born in the UK 03.04.47. Married to Frances in 1973. Two children.

Started in the wine trade in 1970 working for Fred May, a shipper specialising in wines of France, Germany and Hungary. At the time Fred had the exclusivity of Hungarian wines in the UK.

Joined The Wine Society in 1973, a unique consumer-owned co-operative mail-order/online wine company founded in 1874, as Promotion Manager responsible for publications. In 1985 he became chief buyer travelling to all major wine regions of the world. As the business grew (it now has 165,000 active members), he managed a growing team of buyers and specialised chiefly in Bordeaux and Italy. Since 2012 he worked part time to concentrate on Italy and Eastern Europe, handing over responsibilities for these in 2020, now just acting as consultant.

He became a Master of Wine in 1977. He was Chairman of the Masters of Wine in 1995 and Chairman of the Examiners in 1996. He is a consultant to the British Government and for three London institutions. He is a Chevalier dans l’Ordre du Merite Agricola.

Primary area(s) of work: Trade, Communication

Industry sector(s): Buying, Consultant, Off trade, Wine judge

Wine styles: Fortified wines, Port, Sherry, Still red, Still rosé, Still white, Still wines

Wine region expertise: Abruzzo, Alsace, Bordeaux, Eastern Europe, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jerez, Marche, Pfalz, Piedmont, Rheingau, Rhone, Sicily, Tasmania, Tuscany

Market expertise: United Kingdom

Specialisms: Sensory evaluation , Direct to consumer, Independent retail