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Soc in the spotlight: Wine Society

Theo MacDonald is in a great mood, but I get the sense that this is his constant state. With great enthusiasm he explains his love for Edinburgh: “There’s always so much to explore and there’s so much going on! It’s brilliant, despite the cold.”


It’s late July and he is just looking forward to getting back to the city to start his second year studying Ancient History. When we talk he is sitting in his sunlit back garden in Surrey with a luscious oak tree as a backdrop, better than any artificial zoom background you could produce, a scene sure to spark the envy of anyone reading this on a gloomy autumn day in Edinburgh.


“It’s kind of a balancing act really,” he says about staying COVID-safe while also enjoying the last of summer. As secretary of Wine Soc, he has also been busy with planning for the autumn semester. Wine Society, to Theo, isn’t all too complicated. “It’s just looking to get more knowledge and more people interested in wine. It’s not sort of difficult and heavy, we’re not going to judge you at all. If you’ve got no experience that’s even better really.”


Each wine tasting has a theme to it and the society often collaborates with others like the French or Spanish societies, who have a pertinent connection to the world of wine.

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He was the social secretary in his first year, a position Wine Soc have for freshers. This year his position means more responsibility, more to do and more of a leading role. The committee, like most societies, has had to get creative with their events this semester with planning both virtual and socially distanced wine tastings, although for the foreseeable future (as of October) all such social events have been moved online.


Regardless, they have been massively popular and virtual events have been selling out. Students at Edinburgh love wine; when the wine tastings were held in Potterrow it was not uncommon for the queues to stretch out into Bristo Square.


Being in the committee since the first year meant that Theo has had time to find his place within the society and his experience has been overwhelmingly positive.


“I’m lucky,” he says, “first-year things just came into place quite quickly.” He met most people through this society and from living in halls, and he also plays football for the History Society team.

Despite being so content, he is hesitant to call himself successful already. “I think success comes from when you’re proud of yourself and pleased with what you’ve achieved. That could be having a lovely family or a lovely home, or being proud of what you’ve added to the world.”


In the future he would like to live in London, or Edinburgh, sharing a flat with a few friends and working. I ask if there’s anyone he looks up or aspires to. “I wouldn’t say I look up to certain people, I look up to certain things people might do or certain actions,” he says but adds that he is very interested in politics and admires “great guys who work hard” like David Cameron, along with Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and writers like John Milton and Jez Butterworth who according to him are characterised by their brilliance.


His current inspiration comes from A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean: “he’s talking about how he sees his brother fishing, and this is like the peak of what a person can be, but ultimately his brother dies. It’s very powerful, it makes you think of how you’ve got to savour every moment.”

Image: Theo MacDonald