The world was a different place when this issue went to press in February. There were daily reports of a new virus infecting people in Wuhan, China, but our closest contact with the crisis were some emails with Helena Xu, who had developed our digital systems for the Annual Restaurant Poll before returning to her family’s business in Beijing. Helena helped our team several times in January and February, as we put her systems through the paces this year.
The virus had reached Europe by the time I set off for Ribera del Duero in early March, but with the hotspots centered in Madrid and Haro, La Rioja, the countryside of Castilla y León felt relatively safe. Not so much the arrivals hall at Newark Airport when I returned under a travel ban. Now, Spain is under a countrywide lockdown and, according to this morning’s news, people are only allowed out to walk their dogs or to go to the pharmacy, though a chorus of applause erupts throughout the country when people emerge from their homes at 8 pm to thank the healthcare workers.
Today, much of the San Francisco Bay Area also is under lockdown. Most restaurants and bars in major cities, including New York and San Francisco, are shuttered, or open only for takeout. That leaves restaurant workers and bartenders, many of whom survive on tips, with no income for the foreseeable future. If they have children, it is now their job to educate them, as schools are closed in many states. Our thoughts and prayers are with family, with healthcare workers and also with our friends who we normally see in restaurants and bars, who are suffering an uncertain fate at the moment. We’ve posted reports from several restaurant folks who are working, or not working, from home, with updates on what’s happening in their cities. We hope you will join with us in reaching out to help them. We are all at war with an invisible and lethal enemy.
And we’re all looking for a little solace. As one of the many thousands engaged in a 14-day quarantine after returning from Europe, I opened a bottle of Alsace pinot gris on Sunday, as I needed some wine for cooking…and I had a glass of wine on my own. That’s something I hadn’t done in the 36 years since working at this magazine. So, I was happy to read Eric Asimov’s column in the New York Times this week, giving people permission to drink wine alone in their state of quarantine. If it brings any comfort, if it keeps our spirits up, a glass or two can only be a good thing.
So give yourself permission, pour yourself a glass, and settle in with our April issue. We hope it’s a welcome distraction during these uncertain times. And we hope that by the time you receive our next issue, the world may once again be a safer place.
To your health!
W&S April 2020 Features:
WHEN SMOKE GETS IN YOUR WINE
As fire seasons and growing seasons collide, the wine industry is looking for smoke protection. Jamie Goode reports.
FURMINT’S ROYAL RESTORATION
David Schildknecht visits producers along Austria’s border with Hungary, where furmint is reasserting its historic role in exceptional wines.
Could gamay usurp pinot noir as Ontario’s great red wine grape? Jamie Goode considers the possibilities.
THE FACES OF ANDERSON VALLEY PINOT NOIR
With a track record for great pinot noir, Anderson Valley growers are collaborating on research into the valley’s distinct terroirs. Sydney Love reports from the Deep End.
W&S 31ST ANNUAL RESTAURANT POLL
Our exclusive report on wine trends in top restaurants across the US.
This is our web exclusive content.