GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (II)

Wine Clubs

About this time of year I usually make a thorough inventory of the cellar and decide what needs replenishing and what has been completely decimated by the festive season. Family and friends make themselves merry, as you might expect, and this leaves work to be done in February. This year Jill, our eldest, flew down to meet her husband Barnaby at the completion of his fourth Sydney-Hobart and it has become a little tradition with them (well, it’s happened more than three times now) to sip Taittinger and eat strawberries at Constitution Dock together. That is just one bottle which needs to be replaced.

I like to think that I am a hospitable host and my last guests, after their third cognac, have been known to take their shoes off as they tiptoe to their cars, lest they wake some of our more important neighbours in the small hours.

All of which is fine, but it leaves me surveying the damage, so to speak, and inevitably one thinks of wine clubs. Discount wine is an eminently sensible idea, especially when some bulk purchases will soon be on the agenda. And so I rifle through my drawers, and sort out my papers, and I eventually examine my wallet – the big one, not the small one – and remember that I already am a member of several wine clubs. There’s the varsity wine club, a number of affiliate memberships of other varsity wine clubs, the regimental wine club, the old boys wine club, my dining club, The Buffet Buggers, has a wine club, and of course I’m a member of that, and there are a couple of residual memberships of clubs I automatically joined when I did certain work projects over the years. Retired bookmakers get very good wine discounts, for some reason.

There are then many opportunities for good wine deals. So many associations with organisations which seek to ease the burden on a gentleman in my position. And yet I forget about them. They don’t exactly lapse but are instead forgotten, all over again, every year. You see I make some judicious selections for price, vintage, quality, and availability, and deliveries are made from a few clubs. I open the boxes and begin to put away the bottles carefully, spending half a day in my cellar, having put the “Gordon Is Occupied: Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, and, do you know, it’s just not the same.

One simply can’t compare receiving a delivery with visiting a winery and talking to the wine maker and sampling his vintages and so on. One asks questions and makes comments and the man (it’s almost always a man) will recognise an educated palette which belongs to an intelligent person. The wine maker gets as much out of the exchange as the wine buff. And this is the only way to do it really. It takes longer, and is more expensive, but to make these decisions at the source is really the only way to do it.

I’m planning a trip to Coonawarra right now.

Published in: on February 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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