Meet the Tastings Team

Tim Schwilk

Tim Schwilk

Tim is the Tastings and Events Manager for The Wine Society. Often to be seen at tastings, his main role is to devise and oversee a broad programme of events across the UK and keep an eye on the budgets.

When did you join the Tastings and Events Team and where did you come from?

I joined in November 2017. Prior to moving to the UK I created and ran the Sydney Wine Centre, a wine events and education provider in Australia. Before that I was a lawyer who was more interested in sport and booze than contracts and legislation.

Favourite wine region to visit?

Mendoza (steak!!!) and any Australian region that combines beaches, pubs and golf courses! We have a few; you should come and check them out!

Favourite food and wine pairing?

Hunter Valley semillon and oysters

What do you get up to when you're not working?

I try to still play rugby, cricket and golf but my body no longer does what the mind wills it to do. I can happily watch every ball of a 5 Day Test Match whilst keeping an eye on five other sports at the same time.

Anna Spooner and Emma Briffett

Tastings and Events Co-Ordinators – Anna and Emma are responsible for coming up with ideas for future events, writing copy and presenting at many of the regional walk-around tastings as well as dinners and workshops in Stevenage and beyond.

Anna Spooner

Anna Spooner

When did you join the Tastings and Events Team and where did you come from?

I joined in February 2018. Before joining The Society I worked as a freelance wine educator and writer. I have a background in Food and Wine PR and completed an English Literature degree from Newcastle University.

Favourite wine region to visit?

I spend a fair amount of time in the Rhône as my parents live there and it continues to surprise me. There is no pretence or pomp and everyone is just desperate to share their wines with you. Sunshine and views of Mount Ventoux make it pretty special too!

Favourite food and wine pairing?

McDonalds nuggets and Champagne

What do you get up to when you're not working?

I used to do ballet until my early 20s, and whilst I don't have enough time to commit to getting back into such a hard discipline these days, I am about to start ballroom and Latin dance which should be great fun!

Emma Briffett

Emma Briffett

When did you join the Tastings and Events Team and where did you come from?

I joined The Society in October 2010 which seems like a lifetime ago. Before that I worked as a freelance wine educator, managed an independent wine shop and studied for the Master of Wine – an endeavour I have taken a break from as it can be a bit all consuming.

Favourite wine region to visit?

Those who know me know that my all-time favourite place to be is the southern Rhône – the sunshine, hilltop villages and lovely wine all help to make it a pretty magical area. However Champagne comes a pretty close second. I love the architecture of northern France, and the wine is pretty special too!

Favourite food and wine match?

Where to start! As we move into colder months steak and kidney pie with a large glass of Cotes-du-Rhône, and I always love a piece of brie with a glass of big, fat, new world chardonnay.

What do you get up to when you're not working?

I am a recent convert to Yoga, and I have a small dog who likes long mucky walks, so you'll often find me tramping through fields. Otherwise I do love to cook – there's nothing better than putting the radio on (you always need something to sing along to) and creating something (with varying degrees of success) in the kitchen.

Gil Riggans

Gil Riggans

Gil is the Tastings' Venues & Logistics Co-ordinator so he liaises with our venue partners working on the logistical side of our events. He ensures that the right wines are on the van heading to the right tasting – which can be a logistical challenge – and often assists at the tastings.

When did you join the Tastings and Events Team and where did you come from?

I joined The Wine Society in January 2018. Prior to this I spent several years with Corney & Barrow based in East Anglia working with both the on and off trade as well as managing the retail shop.

Favourite wine region to visit?

Would have to be somewhere I can incorporate a cruise as well so Loire, Mosel, Douro? There are too many to choose from.

Favourite food and wine pairing?

I've always been a huge fan of fin and fizz but one I discovered at a recent dinner would have to be Ras el hanout spiced chicken breast with Alsace Pinot Gris. Yum.

What do you get up to when you're not working?

When not at work, I love running, rugby and reading. I also like alliteration.

Maria McGuiness

Maria McGuiness

As Tastings & Events Administrator Maria is the go to contact if you have any queries relating to the events, including dietary requirements or seating requests. It is a little known fact, but Maria is also the one who keeps the Tastings team in check.

When did you join the Tastings and Events Team and where did you come from?

I joined the Tasting and Events team in January 2016 having initially joined The Wine Society working in the Member Services department. Prior to this my background is in Sales and Marketing.

Favourite wine region to visit?

I recently visited Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire which was delightful. The wines were delicious and the scenery beautiful.

Favourite food and wine match?

Champagne with fish and chips, it's delicious!

What do you get up to when you're not working?

I enjoy cycling, yoga and going to the gym. I love entertaining and regularly make the time to meet up with friends and family. I have two children who never cease to entertain me and keep me busy!

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