Wine – making Coronavirus slightly less intolerable

By , 24 March 2020

As the Coronavirus plays itself out, I have regular moments when it seems to me that writing about wine during such a time is hugely out of step with what’s appropriate to the circumstances. And yet it’s what I do…

As voluntary social distancing turns into compulsory lockdown, there is going to be plenty of time for reflection. The whole experience is obviously unsettling but also strangely invigorating – there’s nothing routine or mundane about life right now and we are all compelled to reassess our values.

One thing’s for sure, I have renewed respect for teachers. According to some, Coronavirus is going to normalize remote classrooms. As the father of a 10-year-old and an eight-year-old, I think not and neither does this Israeli mother of four who cracked on day two of quarantine…

The world does seem to be divided into two types of people right now, the first being denialists (“It’s just the flu”) and the second being panickers (“Honey, do we have enough toilet paper?”). How pleasing, then, to make the acquaintance on Twitter of Arnold Schwarzennegger, his miniature horse Whisky and donkey Lulu. His public service announcements about staying home are sensible but I suspect his no-gym workout that only requires a broomstick might be even more so in the coming days.

As for wine, day drinking is awfully tempting but starting at 12h00 means nothing to look forward to come the end of the so-called working day. No sport on the telly and the Netflix offering could be so much better… Thank heavens for Apple iTunes and if I can just control my “doom surfing” (compulsive monitoring of pandemic developments via the Internet), I may actually start reading books again.

Cooking, eating and drinking with my beautiful wife have taken on extra significance. For a few hours, we are forced to step away from our electronic devices and engage with each other – food and wine offer sensual pleasure and remind you that we are fundamentally social beings – friends and extended family are missed but for now we have each other.

With professional engagements non-existent at the moment, there’s far more opportunity to do some more reflective tasting and drinking. “Trying to soothe the extreme pain of the C-19 meltdown so dipped into these two 10-year old SA Red blends. If this is what @Winemag sub-90 point wines taste like, my cellar is in good shape,” wrote @DPJ1963 on Twitter, referring to the 2010 vintages of Glenelly Lady May and Meerlust Rubicon and their relatively poor performance in the recent 10-Year-Old Wine Report. This prompted me to re-visit the Glenelly and I wasn’t inclined to change my opinion. It’s heavily worked and very developed to my palate. The 2013 opened a few days later, however, was sublime. Vintage variation is a thing, people…

Worth the wait.

A particularly worrying aspect of social distance and impending lockdown is how quickly the wine collection is getting depleted. I find myself having to resist an end-of-days mentality and open ALL those special-occasion bottles. That said, the Henri Bourgeois Henri Bourgeois Sancerre La Cote des Monts Damnes 2011 opened as an aperitif last Thursday evening was as splendid as I’d hoped it might be. Now what to drink with dinner tonight?


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