Meet the Member: Sue Eames

Based in Paris since 2001, Sue Eames has been communicating about French wine for over two decades although you will often find her judging internationally and dedicating much of her free time in helping with the Circle’s social media. Amanda Barnes interviews her about her favourite wines and regions, and discovers her tips for the perfect Kir.


What’s your earliest memory of wine?

It was terrible sweet fizz at university. Then, I moved to Brussels in 1976 and discovered real wine, travelling most weekends into France and different regions. Then, in 1980, I spent a year in South Africa as a croupier, where we travelled around the Cape wine regions on our breaks.


How did you first get into the wine industry?

It was in two stages. I returned to London in 1981, and I made it into the final of The Sunday Times’ wine competition, then I worked my way up through the WSET levels — Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced — so I was all set. Then, a senior job at L’Oreal took over, although I did do some fabulous classes with Maggie McNie MW — she was my mentor — and I continued to run classes for consumers and organised trips for sales reps to Bordeaux, Champagne and also held wine tastings at the office. I took a place on the wine committee for the British Epicure Society, alongside Margaret Harvey MW, and we tasted and bought some fabulous wines. I transferred to Paris with L’Oreal in 2001.

In 2012, I decided that I really wanted to go into the wine industry full time, and I started judging, did WSET 3 again, started educating and communicating, while having a full-time job. I left L’Oreal at the beginning of 2017, judged at IWC, did the WSET Diploma 2016-2018 and started running classes for consumers, judging all over the UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, and carrying out wine communication. I joined the Association of Wine Educators (AWE) in 2018, then the Circle in 2020, taking on social media at Winnie’s request. I’m currently writing my Weinakademie thesis, so fingers crossed. I’ve been on lots of great visits to Champagne on the back of that.


You’ve been based in France since 2001, what are your favourite French wine regions and why?

My favourite French wine region has to be Burgundy. I’ve been visiting there since 1976 and became a Chevalier du Tastevin at Clos Vougeot a few years ago. Also Alsace, which I visit a couple of times a year, as so much is going on in terms of different grape varieties on the very varied soils. I’m a Compagnon St Etienne d’Alsace. Then of course St. Emilion, where I try to get to the winemakers lunch and I’m a Dame de la Jurade.


Is there anything happening in the French wine scene that particularly excites, or concerns, you at the moment?

The excitement in France is around Beaujolais, which is just getting better and better, in particular Beaujolais Blanc. Also Maranges, where quality is on the up and prices are remaining reasonable. Plus of course Alsace making amazing Orange wine from its Gewurtztraminer. 

A big worry is Bordeaux, where the more generic wines are finding it hard to find their market, among new consumers in particular.


You also specialise in fruit liqueurs, tell us about what excites you about the world of fruit liqueur and if there is anything special you are drinking at the moment.

Fruit liquors are really improving. A few years ago it was all about the sugar, now there’s a focus on the fruit, acidity and great flavour balance. I’m currently drinking a rather lovely Créme de Cassis, which is perfect with a crisp Aligoté.

I also love judging Armagnac, where with more use of Folle Blanche the quality is going up all the time, but still with the slightly rustic twist, allowing the grape varieties to come through.


You’ve been doing a fantastic job on the Circle’s social media, thank you. Could you please tell us a bit about what members can get in touch with you to share? What sort of posts are you keen for?

I’m really enjoying sharing our super talented members’ work on social media. Please do continue sending in pictures of members together at wine events around the world, as well as specific articles, photos, podcasts on hot topics, books, awards and prizes. It would be great to hear from some of our quieter but no less talented members!