Local Characters: Tom Cannavan: Leading Authority on Wine
Tom Cannavan – formidable force in the world of wine and web-master of http://www.wine-pages.com A man of many talents and wide ranging experiences he’s enjoyed a circuitous route in arriving at his present position. A graduate from Glasgow School of Art Tom worked for a number of years as an Art Teacher before moving on to a new career lecturing in computing at the University of Glasgow. He’s picked up a few tricks along the way and has combined his creative, artistic and technical skills to produce a fascinating and informative Web site: “one of the world’s most popular and longest-established wine sites” – set up when the Net was in its infancy in 1995. The focus of the site is Tom’s all embracing passion – wine!
Now wine is a topic I am not at all clued up on (I couldn’t tell my Cabernet from my Sauvignon). I’ve tended towards boredom when listening to discourses on the merits of different wines and been inclined to view such discussions as an opportunity to show off. In short, it could be said that when I set off to meet Tom in ‘Little Italy’ a couple of weeks back that I was a wee bit prejudiced regarding the topic of wine. However, no more- I am converted!
In the face of Tom’s impressive knowledge, obvious pleasure and enthusiasm for the topic I soon came round to viewing wine as a most interesting subject. I’m rather looking forward to dipping into Tom’s site to find out what he recommends as ‘the wine of the week’ next time I have guests.
Tom explains that his love of wine stems from the fact that “it is so endlessly fascinating and constantly renewing itself”.
As far back as 1981 he started keeping records never thinking that it would become such an important part of his life and lifestyle. He is an acknowledged expert on the topic: a member of the ‘Circle of Wine Writers’ and for several years was wine columnist for the ‘Homeshow Magazine’. Currently he has a regular column in ‘Harpers Wine & Spirit Weekly’ – the magazine for UK wine professionals. He is also a wine columnist for the Sunday Post and writes for a long list of newspapers including the Sunday Times and the Independent. Tom’s book The Good Web Guide to Wine’ was published in 2000 and is a good deal at £12.99, pulling together his knowledge of Wine and the Web.
His own Web site is remarkable, full of fascinating information and very usable – it is a must for wine lovers and anyone wanting to know a bit more about the topic. I particularly like the sections on travel and wine regions – and the food and wine matching information will keep you right for all ‘occasions and situations’. What to drink with sushi, curry and at the barbecue! Always a fan of the ‘interactive’ I love the page with ‘visitor recommendations’: http://www.wine-pages.com/vischeap.htm
It is a site chock full of interesting facts and features and it is bang up to date.
In the quest to keep his knowledge up to date Tom is having a high old time of it. Last year he visited California, France, Portugal and Italy and also Macau, which sounds a completely fascinating place with its strong Portuguese influence. He’s already got a list of trips lined up for this year including Bourdeaux, South Africa and many other destinations. He also pays frequent visits to London where lots of the action around wine takes place. However, he is quick to point out that there is no excuse for ignorance on the topic, apart from dipping into Tom’s Web site – Glasgow folk can indulge themselves at Peckhams and The Chip. These establishments provide plenty of opportunity to sample some of the finest intoxicating beverages.
Tom holds no desire to move away from his West End base and it looks as though he is also set to remain enthusiastic on the topic of wine – he’s having a great time following his star in his quiet and unassuming way. His view is that: “going out and doing it for yourself is actually not bad”.
I am quite delighted to have tracked down such an authority in the heart of the West End. Tom is a real expert and a true professional – he knows his stuff. He is also generous with his knowledge and smart in his business acumen.
Most of all he is a shining example of someone who has used talent and flair to combine work and pleasure in a most satisfactory way.
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