At this time of year, bottles carefully brought home from southern Europe are traditionally opened all over northern Europe in a fever of anticipation
. But those who expect their treasured wine mementoes to prolong
the warmth and languor of the summer holiday just past are all too often disappointed. The red, white or rosé that tasted so glorious on a vine-shaded terrace
seems just plain ordinary under grey skies. Cue the perennial
question: why doesn't this wine travel?
Except that it is rarely the wine's fault. That wine tasting is a subjective experience is vividly
illustrated by this frustrating phenomenon
. It is almost invariably
ourselves, our mood and our environment
that have changed rather than the wine. Modern wine is made to withstand
long journeys. Many a bottle on a British supermarket shelf was trucked across the Channel only days before.
And this phenomenon
is by no means restricted to wine. Dusty bottles of ouzo, Metaxa and Fundador lurk in cocktail
cabinets everywhere as testament
travellers keen to import liquid souvenirs. Even professionals are not immune to the charms of local drinks that take on a quite unjustified allure
when consumed sur place. I recall quite happily downing local brandy
, a combination I would regard as an abomination in London, on our one and only holiday in Cyprus.
But as more and more holidaymakers fly, rather than drive to and from their destinations, these liquid souvenirs are becoming a thing of the past. In our new security-conscious era, flying is an operation that is inimical to the old mores of a wine-lover. I remember clearly how outraged I felt the first time I encountered any restrictions on flying with a bottle of wine. It was 8am one morning in 2002, before British airports had started to collect all our water bottles. I was being screened at Shanghai airport before boarding a plane for the currently troublesome far western Chinese region of Xinjiang. Just as I was leaving my hotel that morning, the local distributor had left me a sample of Grace Vineyards' Chairman's Reserve, said to be the most promising wine then made in China. There had been no time, or inclination
, to try it then but I thought I'd be able to take it with me on my flight to Urümqi and taste it that evening. But no - China had this quaint
prohibition on carrying glass and liquids on flights. But Grace's wines were virtually
impossible to find. I was so loth to hand over my one and only bottle to the security guards and miss my chance of tasting it that I dashed over to a café, got a tumbler
and proceeded to pull the cork as hordes of bemused Chinese air passengers streamed past me at the security gate. (The wine was worth it).
Nowadays, of course, air travellers everywhere are prohibited from passing through security with anything even remotely resembling a liquid in their hand luggage
, and corkscrews are presumed dangerous weapons too. This particular prohibition has also had implications for travelling wine lovers and wine professionals. Corkscrews are the tools of our trade, although admittedly not as deeply personalised as the batterie of knives
that professional chefs are now precluded from taking
on board with them, even on the briefest of trips.
I treasure a small but tough and effective plastic corkscrew that lives in my sponge
bag. It is sheathed innocuously. The material does not set off any alarms. And I have had it so long that it, mysteriously, carries a long-forgotten logo of British Telecom International.
But in my experience, the desire of wine producers the world over to transfer as many bottles as possible from their cellars to visiting wine writers remains largely unaffected by our new era of flying restrictions. This varies by region and by personality but Italians in general, as one might expect, are the most insistent
that no visitor departs empty-handed. Our protestations about travelling with hand baggage
only and the severe weight restrictions of some airlines fall on deaf ears. The important thing, as with Italians generally, is that generosity
is manifested in all respects. Even if it means that the visitor has to leave the bottles behind in an airport lavatory.
The professional quandary of being given too much wine is not, I realise, going to generate
much sympathy with people who do not write about wine for a living, but perhaps those in other professions have come across the dilemma of being presented with other heavy and voluminous mementoes on their travels - gifts which it would be discourteous to refuse, yet highly inconvenient
to take home on a flight. My heart sinks as rapidly as my arms whenever I am presented with the definitive illustrated monograph on such-and-such a wine region that will surely take me over my luggage
It is not easy to fly with wine, even with it in checked-in baggage
. Not only are they heavy, wine bottles are also more fragile
than most other things sensibly packed in a suitcase
, and even I find it hard to think of a bottle of red wine so precious that it is worth the risk of its leaking all over my clothes. On the rare occasions that I have flown with a bottle in a suitcase
, I pack it in a polystyrene tube and swathe the whole thing with Sellotape. So far, so good. But polystyrene, the lightest and safest packaging material for any wine in the hold, is horribly
difficult to recycle, and has a tendency to shed clingy white particles. Packing wine in a suitcase
is a practice I adopt only in extremis such as travelling as an overseas
judge at an Australian wine show where they persist
, current flying restrictions notwithstand
ing, in the custom of expecting us to bring very serious bottles for consumption
at judges' dinners (as if we needed them after tasting 200 wines a day).
Enough complaining. In the box (above) are wines I enjoyed on my recent holiday, and did not bring back in my luggage
但随着越来越多的度假者开始乘飞机，而不是驾车旅行，这些液体纪念品正在逐渐成为过去。在如今这个安全至上的新时代，乘飞机旅行限制了爱酒人士的旧习惯。我清楚地记得第一次遇到限制带酒上飞机时我是多么愤怒。那是2002年某天早上的8点，当时英国机场还没有开始限制携带装有液体的瓶子。我在上海机场登机飞往中国遥远的西部地区新疆时，受到了检查。当天早晨在我准备动身离开时，当地经销商给了我一瓶怡园酒庄(Grace Vineyard)庄主珍藏(Chairman's Reserve)的样品，据说它是当时中国红酒品牌中最有前景的品牌。我当时既没有时间也没有欲望品尝它，但我想可以在飞往乌鲁木齐时带上它，然后当天晚上品尝。不过这种想法没能实现，因为中国在携带玻璃和液体上飞机方面有着奇怪的限制规定。但怡园红酒确实很难得到。我绝不愿把这唯一的一瓶怡园红酒交给保安人员，从而失去品尝它的机会，所以我冲进了一家咖啡馆，要了一个大玻璃杯，接着拔开了软塞，一饮而尽。当时一大群中国乘客在安检入口处从我身旁穿过，一脸困惑地看着我。（那瓶酒值得我这么做）。
我珍爱躺在我盥洗用具袋内的那把坚硬、好用的小塑料开塞钻。它被遮盖了起来，一点也不引人注意。那种材料不会引发任何警报。它已陪伴我很久，甚至它身上的英国国际电信 (British Telecom International)标识早已被人遗忘。