Toby Young Toby Young

Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder


The wine has been flowing in the Young household this week. The reason I’ve been celebrating is because I managed to get through January without a drink. Like many people, I try to do this every year, but it felt like a particular achievement this year because of the lockdown Boris announced on 4 January. Almost everyone I know used that as an excuse to fall off the wagon. ‘There’s no way I can get through another lockdown without a drink’ was the general refrain.

One thing that helped was joining the Wine Society and loading up on bottles throughout ‘dry’ January. It had never occurred to me to join until my neighbour Mark Beaumont, who’s been a member for 30 years, told me you had to be proposed by an existing member. ‘So it’s like a gentleman’s club?’ I asked, suddenly interested. ‘Exactly,’ he said.

I immediately went to the website and filled in the online application form, imagining I’d have to include Mark’s name as my proposer and then wait six months. Who knows, perhaps I’d even be blackballed, as I was from the Garrick. But, disappointingly, I was admitted straight away. I put down Mark’s name, but only so he could get a £5 discount off his next purchase as the person who’d ‘recommended’ the society to me, not the other way round. I’m now glad I didn’t have to wait six months because, if you know your wine, there are a few bargains to be had. For instance, the Society’s Exhibition Haut-Médoc is a 2016 Château Beaumont (no relation) which is pretty decent claret. (The 2012 vintage gets a respectable 86 points from Robert Parker.) A case from Berry Bros will set you back £225, but at the Wine Society it’s only £192. Worth the price of admission alone.

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