Meet An Expert - Mike Best, Master Of Wine

Written by: Amanda McCabe
17 Dec

Tell us your wine background and how you got to where you are today?

My name is Mike Best.  I'm a Master Of Wine, currently the youngest in the world.  That's something that won't last very long so I'm enjoying saying it at the moment!

I started working in a pub in Yorkshire where I first got interested in wine. That led me to doing courses with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and eventually moving South to work for wine agencies.
I work for a great wine distributor called Boutinot, we also make a lot of wine too as we own four wineries around the world and make a lot of wine in partnerships.
In my spare time, I teach WSET diploma courses and help MW candidates on their journey.

Why do you love wine so much?

Wine is really whatever you want it to be.  Sometimes it's artistic expression, it can be a moment in time, it can be the legacy of a person, or it can just be a drink or the fuel of a party.  Like any subject you become interested in, the only thing you realise is how much you don't know and the more you discover, the worse that problem becomes!  But, that is the fun of it, even though I've got this grand title, I actually feel like I only know a tiny amount about wine.

If you were a wine, what would you be?

This is a tough question.  I like deciding what wine other people would be but it feels much harder to think about it for me.
I like to think I'm more of a Maverick, but you can't beat a classic, I'd probably be a claret though, hopefully from one of the less austere communes, like Saint Julien.

Favourite food & wine match?

Anything like deep fried calamari or fish and chips with crisp, dry white or sparkling is great.

What have you got to look forward to in 2022?

Lots!  Becoming a father.  Getting back to wine regions, Pfalz in Germany is the first trip of the year but I'm sure there will be many more.  I really want to go to Lebanon and Georgia and look at bringing in new wines from Turkey and Greece too.

Most memorable bottle (so far)?

I think Madeira's are really special. They'd be my desert island wine.  A bottle of 50yr old Terrantez in a tasting stopped me in my tracks, they are unbelievably delicious!

What's the best thing about your job?

Probably the balance of needing to understand people, business and wine.  We're wine enthusiasts, but even though I can geek out with the best of them, I can find some wine chat boring.  Likewise, if you know everything about wine but you can't talk to people you won't get anywhere.  Also, if you don't understand the business you'll end up suggesting wines that don't work there.  Managing those three elements make it very fun and fluid, so there is always a new situation or new angle you need to take.