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Do you really want to buy wine online?
I love walking around wine shops. Especially really good ones. Some of them have wonderful bottles of vintage wines, ports, sherries, madeira, marsala and brandy in lovely dusty racks. Others give you a list and you can go and actually look at a bottle of wine that is on the list at £2000. Of course buying it is out of the question, but you will always remember that day when you actually touched a Rothschild ’47 or whatever it was for the rest of your life.
If you live or work in London there are some fabulous wine merchants to window shop in. You can potter around the more expensive areas of the West End and discover a cornucopia of wine shops with superb wines from all over the world. Many specialise in the more expensive vintages.
Looking round these emporiums is a bit like taking a kid into a sweetshop. You look at all these wines that you have read about only in fables and decide that you will have a bottle of ‘house-red’ thanks. You can’t tell the be-suited gentleman behind the wooden counter that your bank manager would have a fit if you bought the one you really wanted. You also know that if you try to bluff him by asking for the ’85 rather than the ’86 he will produce the bottle from the folds of his morning suite.
The airports of Western Europe, particularly Amsterdam and Zurich for transit passengers are amazing. Good wine is not in it. From behind glass, possibly bullet-proof, you can gaze at bottles of 200 year old brandy. I wonder if anyone actually drinks it, or do they frame it or something? You may wonder, whilst looking for the rather cheaper duty-free shop which sells things for under 00, whether you could buy some of these things rather less expensively somewhere else.
If you go to Italy or France you can just go to the local shop in the town and you will be amazed at the range of wines there. Of course the local wine/s will be paramount in the mind of the storekeeper or wine merchant, but there will be some special wines that really need attention paid to them. Little stores can often come up with some really cracking wine if persuaded to. “This is my last bottle” really means that the wine is really good and possibly too good to be drunk by a foreigner.
If you take a tour of the wine growing regions of Italy or France you will be able to buy a case or two of whichever wine you took a fancy to on your holiday. Having tasted it in Italy though, does not necessarily mean that it will taste the same in England or Germany when it’s only 2C outside.
Most of us would love to go to interesting places; see how wine is made and taste it on the spot; have the time to wander round wine warehouses and have the knowledge of what to look for. The rest of us take advantage of the new ability of being able to buy wine online. It’s much easier but not, perhaps, as much fun.
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