Wine and COVID notes 5-13-2020

As sheltering-in-place, face masks, and social distancing save lives, COVID likely forever alters “normal life.” Notes from the world of wine and alcohol:

• E-commerce wine sales explode, likely an historic game-changer. Direct-to-consumer (DtC) wine sales, which usually means e-commerce, are up 200-400% and more depending upon the seller. DtC may emerge the way wine is sold.

• Happy hours and tastings go virtual. According to analytics company Social Standards, virtual happy hour conversations zoomed by more than 1,500%. The participants skew age 30-44—key target for wine—and female, no surprise there. Another trend that may stick.

• Smaller wineries dependent on tasting room income and sales are hammered. According to multiple wine marketing gurus, all wineries, especially smaller ones, must enhance or develop their online presence/wine club or they will go out of business.

• COVID devastates European wineries, especially Mediterranean wineries where tourism can count for up to half their income—both at the winery/winery hotel and at bars and restaurants. European analysts fear COVID’s negative effect could be comparable to that experienced during World War II.

• All alcohol sales are up. Advice to hoarders: without special devices, your bottle of wine will decline every day after you open it. Store upright in a cool, dark place and—depending on the wine—the bottle may be drinkable for up to a week. Better strategy: share with those sheltering with you, finish the bottle. You are hoarding. You’ve got more.

• Like wine, whiskey begins to change and degrade as soon as it is opened, but at a much slower pace. Store bottle upright so alcohol cannot eat away at the closure material. Store at steady temperature. Avoid light exposure. The bottle can do well for two years—ideal conditions, five years. Let us hope, way after COVID is history.

Tasting notes:

• Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho Branco, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2017: Astonishing value; Portuguese white with acidic citrus bite, apple texture. $9-12 Link to my review

• Château Sainte-Catherine Côtes de Bordeaux AOC Cadillac 2015: Punches above its weight as a Bordeaux blend. $12-13 Link to my review

• W. & J. Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Porto: Entry-level bottle; delivers superb quality and rich tastes. $23 Link to my review

• San Simeon Paso Robles Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016: Smooth easy drinker, dense dark fruit flavors. $24-36 Link to my review

Last round: When this thing is over… I’m not sure which meeting I attend first: Weight Watchers or AA?