Tony’s Diary: The ‘essential’ role of wine during lockdown

So Greenland and South Africa have banned alcohol for the duration of its lockdown. Which contrasts with the British government classifying off-licences as ‘essential’. Doubtless there will be some debate on this. I don’t think I could cope without wine. Hugh Johnson and I were just discussing this and I persuaded him to write down his feelings…

“The government has had the good sense to class wine-suppliers as an essential service, for the sake of our health and our morale. Essential for me certainly. Wine has been part of my diet for nearly seventy years and look at the harm it’s done me. We’re not so totally wedded to wine in this country as the Italians or the French, who simply see it as an essential part of life, but we’re catching up fast. We’ve come a long way from our historic fame as the violently boozy race the French called the ‘Goddams’. Who in this country now doesn’t keep a bottle in the fridge and look forward to a glass before supper?

‘Wine was a gift from the gods’

“There is no human culture that doesn’t have some mental relaxer to swallow, sniff or chew. We didn’t have to invent wine: it was a gift from the gods; the more-ish flavour, the moderate strength, the digestive and heart-protecting qualities, all come naturally when you ferment grape juice. It’s been the business and the pleasure of countless generations to develop an infinity of different kinds, styles, scents and flavours. We’re the lucky ones.

“But you don’t need me to tell you that. You know how a good glass doubles the pleasure of a good meal. How it lowers the stress and distracts one from the woes.”

Exactly what you’d expect from the man who through his millions of book sales has done more than anyone to spread the good news about wine. Right now wine is doing its bit for the imprisoned millions.

Tony Laithwaite


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We’re wine nuts, not wine snobs. We’ve been exploring the world on a mission to find great wine for the last 50 years. If you love adventure as much as we do, you belong with us. We know our winegrowers like family – and in some cases they actually are. Expect to hear from these legends of the soil, see behind the scenes access into vineyards and wineries and get news on fresh finds from our travels on this page. Drink responsibly. Visit for further health information. You must be aged 18 or over to follow.

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