By this point, every one of us has used up the euphemisms for just how far from normal we find the times in which we live. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably don’t need reminding of the dire straits facing so many businesses, but especially those in the hospitality industry.
I’ve been reading stories and hearing anecdotes for months about the near apocalypse facing restaurants across America, with estimates approaching 50% for the number that simply have not survived or will not survive the ravages of their pandemic-inflicted shutdowns. Indeed, on my masked weekend strolls around Oakland and San Francisco, I see more and more vacancies and boarded up windows instead of the usual array of cafes, takeouts and eateries.
Like many, I have been making a conscious effort to order food much more frequently from the restaurants I want to support. As outdoor dining slowly resumes here in California, my family and I will cautiously be making an effort to patronise those of our beloved establishments that have managed to hang on until now.
Throughout the past year, like the rest of the dining experience, restaurant wine programmes have undergone massive changes as eateries have fought to survive, with restaurateurs, wine directors and sommeliers trying anything and everything to generate revenue in completely uncharted territory.
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This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is usually available only to subscribers of her web site. If you’re not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It’s only £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($11/mo or $111 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and maps from the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.