Wine without the line

Local food-and-beverage operators serve up innovative ways to get wine into the hands of self-isolators

Photo: London Wine Bar co-owner, Laura Del Maestro

BEEN TO THE LCBO lately? It has suddenly become a pretty unenjoyable experience — long lineups outside, tightly enforced social distancing inside and a picked-over selection on the shelves. At some of the bigger stores, quick Friday booze runs have suddenly become 90-minute affairs.

Several London-area wine businesses are now offering an alternative: wine delivery, bringing some of the best wine lists in the city to your front door, no formal wear required.

For buyers who are just looking for a bottle or two — and some bistro-style meats and salads to go with it — London Wine Bar owners and Mario Jozic and Laura Del Maestro launched a delivery service in late March. Customers can order a bottle (or two or three… ) from the bistro’s wine list, along with an order from their tapas-style menu. The selection includes their own private label bottles, as well as wines from around the world — and most of them are wines that you can’t find at the LCBO, too.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” says Jozic. “Being able to deliver wine with every food purchase has significantly improved our business.” 

It has made their suppliers happy, too, as it keeps the supply chain moving. “They’ve already paid for those wines, they’re just sitting in the warehouse,” Jozic says. “They’ve been pleasantly surprised.”

At between $20 and $30 a bottle, and free delivery on orders over $25, it’s an affordable way to class up your quarantine menu and to try out the wines that the restaurant offers. It’s proven to be a popular service so far, and Jozic says they’re often selling out before the end of the day.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking to put in a more significant order to restock your wine cellar after six weeks of steady depletion or have a really good Zoom cocktail party on the horizon, London-based wine merchant Esprit Du Vin is delivering cases of wine (since legally, wine agents aren’t allowed to sell by the bottle). You can order single wines by the dozen if you have a favourite, or if you’re looking for a variety, they offer something called a Wine Align case — 12 wines from nine countries around the world, boxed up and shipped to your doorstep.

Whether you’re enjoying the quiet time at home or looking for new things to try, a new bottle of wine might be just what you need to spruce up your day-to-day routine. If nothing else, it will make your sweatpants happy hour a bit fancier. Kieran Delamont

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