In the area where I live in north London there used to be several chain off licences/wine shops.

Nicolas is a French chain that always had a good selection of wines and spirits. It closed, and was taken over by Oddbins, even though there was another Oddbins shop, a huge converted garage, just a few hundred yards away.

Actually, the large shop was really great. The selection was enormous, the staff were helpful and there was even a place to sit and sample wines. They always got my business, and it’s a sign of a good shop if, every time you go in, you find something interesting.

Well, the small shop closed. Last time I visited the larger shop, the shelves were empty. I went past recently, and they were removing what stock was left.

So now, if you want wine, you go to a small specialist shop, which is fine, or a supermarket. I think Majestic is still on the go, but is many miles away.

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