You would like a drink. But forget trying to add a bottle to your online supermarket order: securing the delivery slot for the essentials was hard enough, and the queue to get on to the website is now impossible. You don’t want to risk another trip out. Where does that leave you?
Since the lockdown announcement on Monday, the government has included off licenses on its list of shops that can stay open because they’re selling essential supplies. Nevertheless, some wine merchants have decided to shutter their shops, and keep their delivery and fulfilment teams at home. The Wine Society is currently closed for business. So if you haven’t any booze in the house already, are you now high and, forgive the pun, dry?
Not necessarily. At the time of writing (but forgive me if this has changed by the time you read this) many bricks and mortar wine shops are closed, but retailers are still taking online or phone orders and making deliveries. Many independents up and down the country had already taken the decision to offer local delivery and several are continuing to do so.
If you don’t already know your local wine merchant it is worth consulting the directory of merchants delivering to self-isolators compiled by the estimable Jancis Robinson before this latest change. I can’t promise that all the services will still be ongoing but it’s a start and you can find it on her website, jancisrobinson.com.
England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland each have their own sections, while the English one is subdivided by region. Also check out barefootcornwall.com and look at the post Eating In: Cornwall for a list of Cornish food and drink businesses offering online shopping and home delivery.
Don’t assume anyone not on these lists is not doing anything: if you have a great local wine shop, or indeed a brewery, distillery or vineyard, get in touch with them to see what they have put together.
In many cases the wine delivery service is ad hoc. “It’s a boot of the car job as we don’t have a snazzy, branded delivery van,” said Suffolk Cellar in Wrentham. “But we’ll try and get wines to the people of the Suffolk coast.” Chesters Wine Merchants in Abergavenny are offering free local delivery by bike on up to six bottles and within 10 miles on larger amounts: “If Lloyd’s legs can get there [on the bike] you can have a single bottle delivered: environmentally friendly and good for Lloyd’s fitness.”
Meanwhile, James Hocking Wine is offering luxury lockdown delivery around Andover, Salisbury and Winchester of single bottles from its Fine & Covetable collection as well as bottles from the sub-£50 range, which are being offered at trade prices.
Yapp Brothers in Wiltshire had suspended their deliveries, but I hear today (Wednesday March 25) that they intend to resume them, albeit online only, with a strictly limited staff.
Grape & Grain Wine Merchants in Crediton, Devon is part of the Crediton Delivery Hub which can bring veg, cheese, books, wine and more to your door. “We are frantic at the moment but I’m here taking phone orders from 10am until 2pm,” says Bruce Evans.
Richard Kihl’s shop Slaughden Wines in Aldeburgh, meanwhile, has teamed up with the local bookshop to deliver bottles and books. Richard specialises in blissfully good examples of classic wines such as chablis and sancerre. “An elderly customer came to the door shortly before we had to close and bought a couple of hundred quid’s worth of wine. We said, ‘How will you cope?’ and she said, ‘This!’ ” says owner Antony Irvine. “So we said, ‘We’ll help.’ We’re now offering free-of-charge delivery. We want to do it. We want the sales.”
Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex has also adapted to offer customers essential grocery supplies, takeaway food with wine pairings, and free delivery on online orders over £15.
Other vineyards distributing wine with free delivery and a smile include: Rathfinny in Sussex (free delivery of cases of sparkling wine within a 10-mile radius). Camel Valley (free delivery on orders of six bottles or more). Tuffon Hall Vineyard (free delivery within 10 miles) and Black Chalk Wine (free national delivery on online orders, and a free tour and tasting voucher with every three bottle purchase – as they say, “Something to look forward to”).
To thirsty Londoners I commend Haynes, Hanson & Clark, whose wines I really rate.
Many breweries and beer sellers are being similarly innovative. The Ilkley Brewery (declaration of interest: my brother works there) is now offering home delivery (free locally) of full casks of ale (that’s 72 pints as you would drink it in a good pub), bottled beer and Ilkley Brewery T-shirts.
Craft beer merchant Kicking Horse is offering contact-free delivery of mixed beer boxes in London, Bucks, Herts and Berks. Hornes Brewery is offering an online/contact-free delivery while it can within a 15-mile radius on orders over £25.
Last words to Martinez Wines in Ilkley (free local delivery, nationwide delivery at £6.99, on orders of £50 or more, order online). Its advertising banner reads: “Buy wine, not toilet rolls.” A slogan we can all get behind.
Wines of the week
Bird in Hand Chardonnay 2018 Adelaide Hills, Australia
(13%, oxfordwine.co.uk, £19.95; free local delivery for six bottles or more – there’s a list of relevant postcodes on the website)
Treat yourself to a bottle of this beautiful contemporary Australian chardonnay from one of the country’s new stars. Lightly oaked, with flavours of white peach.
Bernard Defaix Petit Chablis 2016 France
(12%, The Good Wine Shop in Teddington, £18, no-contact deliveries are available, also a bespoke ordering service)
Fourth-generation vine grower Bernard Defaix makes wonderfully taut chablis, and his petit chablis, from a very clean-cut vintage, also sings.
Les Griffons de Pichon Baron Pauillac 2016 Bordeaux, France
(13.5%, slurp.co.uk, £42.95, free delivery on orders over £100)
Isolate in style with a superb claret from the famous Pauillac chateau.