Life seemed to return to normal for my first London wine tasting in more than a year on 21 May 2021: Delays on the Northern line, spring rain and a bitterly-cold day with gusts of 40mph.
The sense of anticipation was palpable. A chance to watch Surrey versus Middlesex at The Oval while tasting the 27th annual Chianti Classico collection. But rain stopped play for the entire session.
Our tasting was in the India room. Each group was allocated two hours to taste 181 wines. A daunting task. Almost as daunting as the weather through the window.
Cricket “tragics”, mostly badly-dressed older men in scarves and wind-cheaters, looked wistful as they ambled around the ground. The consolations for these lost sheep were warm beer in plastic mugs, and a big screen showing highlights in the gloom.
Inside, the Italian sommeliers who brought the wine dressed far more snappily. This year’s tasting involved a different format. We sat at individual tables and masked somms brought six tastes at a time. I managed to sample 40 of the 181.
It was much more pleasant tasting wine seated instead of the usual standing-room struggle. But the process, because of Covid precautions, was slow.
Similar tastings have already been held in Florence, Chicago and New York, with Munich later this month and and Tokyo next month.
At the end after all the young tannic reds I discovered a 2001 vin santo, a divine creation that helped me forget the weather, the delays and the washed-out cricket. Read more about vin santo here. It was good to be back.