IWFS LONDON BLOG – Wines during Lockdown

In IWFS London Blog by ashepherdiwfs

April 2020

No wine tastings for me to report on while we are all in lockdown. In the circumstances we are doing our best to enjoy drinking wine chez nous – and observing the proprieties by occasionally keeping a day or two alcohol-free.

I used to have a big book made for the purpose with pages of columns, to record the wines that I was laying down. I was never much good at keeping it up to date, and got only slightly better when I replaced it with a free app on my i-pad. One shortcoming was that I couldn’t print from it or otherwise back it up, but it worked well for my immediate requirements. The wines could be sorted according to vintage, country, grape and so on, and included details of what I had paid to whom – and importantly, where to find them. We have a modern house without a cellar, so wines are stored more or less accessibly, in cases, on racking or shelving, in the kitchen, the cupboard under the stairs, the utility room, the wine fridge, or on the arrival of a large consignment, given a temporary resting place in what was originally the garage.

My incipient system hasn’t prevented me forgetting about one or two wines until they are well beyond their Drink Me By Now window. When I come upon a wine like this, we open it with trepidation. With luck it can be a revelation or at least interesting, but can alternatively lead to regret at having missed the whole point of the exercise.   Sad to relate, one day several months ago, all my wine records on the app suddenly disappeared without any apparent cause (and, needless to say, with no warning, let alone any hint of electronic apology or explanation).   Note to self for my List Of Things To Do during these bizarre times: Find (and pay for, this time) a new app; re-organise and catalogue my wines. But here’s the thing – the later I leave it, the fewer fine wines I will have left to log, and therefore the easier my task will be – for two reasons.

First, in the current situation, we are enthusiastically working our way through our wine collection rather earlier than we had anticipated.

Second, at my age, I have become reluctant to gamble on investing in wines en primeur. For example, no more clarets not yet bottled or released.

I still do place orders for young wines, say, good Rhônes, or white Burgundies, but my choice is predicated on the recommended drinking window being sooner rather than later, to maximise my chances of benefiting from them.  There will come a time, which at our current drinking patterns won’t be too far into the future, when we shall run out of older wines taking several years to reach their peak. Then if I want to, perhaps for a celebration, I will buy the occasional mature single bottle, if it is available for sale, and I can justify the price.

Of course, in happier times ahead, I shall continue to go to IWFS wine tastings, which are the best way of comparing and contrasting fine wines, and in a sociable ambience too.

Rachel Burnett