The outbreak of the Coronavirus in China in late 2019 had virtually no impact on the wine industry – until now.
In Northern Italy and across Europe, the harvest was safely in, fermented and barrelled. ‘Social distancing’ meant that people stopped going out to eat and drink as much. The forced closure of bars and restaurants certainly had an impact – but for many people they simply switched to having a drink at home.
The problem, in the UK at least, is the phenomenon of ‘panic-buying’. In my local supermarket, the announcement by Boris Johnson that his advice to people to stop going out hadn’t worked and that licensed premises had to close (but could still do ‘takeaway’ food and booze) sparked a flurry of wine buying. The shelves were quickly stripped – of literally everything. The purchasers must have taken leave of their senses. The horrors that people must have taken home… The last wines left were the roses but they went eventually, as did the low and no-alcohol wines; I would love to see the disappointment on the faces of the panic-buyers, when they realise the error of their ways. Buy in haste; repent at (sober) leisure.
The shelves will be restocked (eventually). What to do in the meantime? Well there’s always Majestic! There was a bit of a run on my local Majestic – they must be delighted! People who wouldn’t normally set foot in there were loading up with beer and wine. Not the expensive stuff, yet – although my local ‘posh’ supermarket had put shelves of Bollinger Rose in the fridges – at £50 a bottle. Many people will be looking to Virgin wines or Laithwaites to stock up – and handily I will be writing a whole series of reviews over the coming weeks in which I assess their good bad and indifferent offerings.
My first wine recommendation is to drink in moderation, for the time being. Drinking to excess at the moment will make you more prone to the virus. A strong immune system is required and alcohol undermines this. I’d recommend a period of abstinence – but appreciate that for many people wine is a source of pleasure and comfort in challenging circumstances. There will be plenty of time to celebrate the departure of Covid – 19 and I have already earmarked the wines I will be having to celebrate this event.
Perhaps in your enforced lockdowns you would like to engage with this blog and tell me what you think? I’ll do my best to answer but may take a little longer than usual as I have found myself helping at the frontline of the battle in my other, full-time role.
Never has there been more of atimeforwine…