I’m a wine pervert. As I walk to work in the morning, while you may still be in your dressing-gown, I like to peer into your recycling bins and peek at your bottles. I get my kicks when I see something daring, a titillating glimpse of tipple to stir the imagination and satisfy my fantasy that, behind closed doors, you are all having the wine of your lives. But what do I see? The vinous equivalent of granny’s bloomers hanging on the washing line. At best, I would describe what I see as ‘safe’. Brand after famous brand poking their shiny capsule above the newspapers and cereal packets. And if it isn’t a well-known brand, it’s the generic equivalent, like a supermarket Rioja or a ‘Taste the Similarity’ Bordeaux Supérieur.
You will argue that an independent wine merchant is bound to rail against brand names, because they are our adversaries in business, but it is not for commercial reasons that they sadden me. I think that one of the great joys of wine is that it can capture a liquid snapshot of the time and place in which it was made. Mass-produced brands never do this, they are blended to achieve consistency from year to year, so that while they may be palatable, they lack the idiosyncrasies that give a wine its personality, or, to use a more contentious word, soul.