1 – Always over-order
Who knows for how long we’re going to be marooned in our homes during this lockdown. Three weeks? Three months? Six months? 12 months? Cut off from the regulating influence of the outside world, our consumption habits can change very quickly. With each passing week, we may feel a not altogether unpleasant sense of drift. We may begin to rise and fall abed later, we may find that cocktail hour moves a little earlier, that our resolve to change our underwear grows that little bit weaker; most certainly, we will find that our thirst for wine’s sensual pleasures grows stronger. Luckily, the government, in its wisdom, has declared off-licence wine retailers ‘essential’ business during this diminished time, so the lines of supply remain fully open. Which is a huge blessing because now, more than ever, we need our wine racks and cellars to be well stocked with a broad range of wines to suit very mood and whim. When faced with images of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove telling you can’t go outside for the next 12 months, you’ll be surprised how quickly those stocks will dwindle, so our first counsel to you is to make sure you over-order.
2 – Use nice glassware
Pandemic or no pandemic, standards are important. The bullets flying over their heads in No Man’s Land didn’t stop Captain Biggs and the squad from Number 4 Trench getting out the tablecloth and doilies to enjoy Spadger’s lovingly prepared Victoria sponge (see Monty Python’s Meaning of Life Part III: Fighting Each Other). Neither should indefinite self-isolation and the imminent collapse of Late Capitalism be an excuse for not using the appropriate glassware for the wine you’re drinking. We’re not going to start specifying glassware brands and handblown manufacture here, just an appropriate receptacle to get the full enjoyment out of your wine at a time when enjoyment is in limited supply – and not, say, a tea mug, or a shoe.
3 – Zoom your drinking experience
One of the more common happenstances of this strange time is the adoption of applications and technologies we don’t fully understand how to use for the purposes of sharing our wine drinking experiences. Downloading and attempting to use the Zoom smartphone app amounts to a moral duty at the moment. The way it goes is this: you pour yourself a very large glass of wine, after seven or eight false starts, you launch the Zoom app, then spend 45 minutes interrupting your friends and being interrupted yourself as you try to figure out how to adjust your screen settings. You’ll look back with great fondness on these experiences. Trust me.
4 – IGTV your drinking experience
Similarly during the lockdown, there is a very high likelihood that you will find yourself launching your own, hastily cobbled together Instagram TV show, during which you will open and taste several bottles of wine, growing ever more tipsy and incoherent as the minutes tick by and your modest audience of three family members and a strange social media pest you met once in Crete gradually lose interest in the novelty of what you’re doing. You will be unfazed by any of this and will continue to broadcast your IGTV wine show long after the pandemic has ended, enjoying a peak audience of a whopping 11.
5 – Remember normal service will resume
As the Lord of the Flies has taught us, human society is never more than a pair of broken spectacles away from madness, anarchy and ritual killing. Spending several weeks or, more likely, months in isolation is bound to send one or two of us a bit feral, but it’s nothing that an extended period of psychiatric care won’t cure. The most important thing to remember is that, trying as it is, the lockdown won’t last for ever. In all likelihood, once you’ve shaved your wildman’s (or wild woman’s) beard off and been trained to use a knife and fork again, you’ll probably look back on this as a strangely enjoyable time, with its balcony sing-alongs, its steady supply of Swig wines and those charming ritual dances we all did, painted in the blood of sacrificial animals, towards the end of it all. Strange time though it is, it does tend to make us take each day as it comes, and take what pleasure we can from difficult circumstances. And it will, eventually, come to an end.