Q&A: Diana Thompson


Diana launched Wine Events Scotland in 2016, and organises trade and consumer tastings including the new Edinburgh Uncorked Wine Fair. Her 30-year career has included spells at Corney & Barrow and Southcorp Wines. A WSET-certified tutor, she also writes the wine column for The Sunday Post.

What’s the first wine you remember drinking?
My grandfather (who had good taste in wine) got his hands on peach sparkling wine which he thought was great and tried to pass it off as Champagne. Sadly, I think everyone agreed with him too much the first time he brought it out and it just kept appearing and flowing. I think I enjoyed it a couple of times before moving swiftly on.

What job would you be doing if you weren’t in the wine trade?
I was very keen on riding, in particular dressage, believing I’d ride professionally. However, I doubt I’d have been successful so I’m very glad the wine trade saved me.

How do you relax?
I dream of spending an afternoon in the garden with a glass of something chilled but suspect I’d get bored very quickly. I’d rather be walking in the hills and believe it or not I find cold-water swimming relaxing.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Everyone in the industry ought to read Wine & War by Donald and Petie Kladstrup. It’s a classic, filled with many fascinating and amusing stories about what went on in the wine world during World War II in France. My most recent favourite was The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn – beautifully written, following a family of strong-minded characters and the paths they take as World War II breaks out.

Give us a Netflix recommendation.
We Have a Ghost is great. It’s a clever storyline, funny and a film for all ages.

Do you have any sporting loyalties?
I tend to veer towards horses although I don’t get the chance to ride much now. One of my daughters is a keen vaulter, which is effectively gymnastics on horseback. Watching her tends to be a sport in itself and quite a workout for my heart!

Who’s your favourite music artist?
Without a doubt Sting – he’s such a legend.

Any superstitions?
Always needing to pick up a penny for good luck. When one of my daughters was critically ill, I went into overdrive spotting pennies, most of them in the middle of a busy road. Thankfully, she recovered, so the penny collecting continues.

Who’s your favourite wine critic?
It has to be Oz and not just because we recently held Edinburgh Uncorked Wine Fair with him. He’s witty, the ultimate gentleman, down to earth, seems to remember everyone he meets, writes brilliantly, has done so much for the wine industry and, above all, he’s incredibly humble and modest.

What’s your most treasured possession?
My family – they’re the best.

What’s your proudest moment?
Being amongst the first females to be admitted to the Livery of The Vintners Company in 2002. My father is a Liveryman and my grandfather was Clerk so it was a very special moment. It’s great to see there are numerous other ladies now.

What’s your biggest regret?
Not investing in some of the classic Penfolds wines in the early 90s.

Who’s your hero?
My dad. Even at 93 he makes us laugh. Nothing gets him down; he constantly thinks of others and is always full of encouragement.

What’s your favourite place in the UK?
Almost anywhere in the north west Highlands of Scotland, up in the hills.

What one wish would you like granted?
To stop time disappearing so fast. There’s never enough.

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