I have recently discovered the forums at wine-pages.com. A microcosm of the wine-lovers’ universe, perhaps, it’s simultaneously beguiling and deeply offputting. It’s a real, genuine community, full of lively and extremely friendly debate and discussion. And more: rhttps://cellarfella.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=176&message=1egular posters seem to meet up frequently to actually drink wine, and forge friendships. But I just feel that many of them don’t live in my world.
After taking delivery of a case from the Wine Society yesterday, I probably have about 50 bottles of wine at home, a many as I can reasonably store, which cost, on average, a little over £7 a bottle. I know this, because every time I go wine shopping I aim to spend, on average, a little over £7 a bottle. There are perhaps half a dozen star wines in there waiting for a special occasion, and these are worth perhaps £18 or so. There is a bottle of Viu Manent 1 2006, which will cost you about £40 where you are lucky enough to find it, but which cost less than half that in the Caves de Pyrene sale. I have another few cases in storage elsewhere, all Rhones. The most expensive is a case of Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2007, which I bought from the Sunday Times Wine Club with the aid of a big voucher and some cashback from Quidco at considerably less than its £120 a case asking price. In other words, I exist at a level just higher than the average punter. I spend just enough to drink varied, interesting wine. But how many bottles of red Burgundy have I bought, ever? None. Not one (OK, this is a bit of an oversight. They’re not all unaffordable). How many famous Bordeaux chateaux are represented in my basement? Not one.
These guys, though, are different. They have friends who give them 1989 Petrus. They have 15 vintages of Musar in their basement. They say things like
“Of the last two 1990s I’ve drunk at this level the Lynch Bages was better (IMO) than Léoville Barton”. They meet every month at the Ledbury, a Michelin-starred restaurant (though at £60 for three courses and half that at lunchtime, it’s not so expensive).
Who am I, to them? What is my knowledge of wine, compared to theirs? What will it ever be? For at the highest level, knowledge of wine is the preserve of a self-selecting few. There is a lot there for me, a lot of pleasure to be had, but also a frustration: that a wealth of knowledge is available only to the wealthy. Or those with big basements.
But for all that, I think could learn a lot from these people, whoever they are. And hopefully, I will.