‘We are right to whine about the price of wine in Britain’

Well done Joe Fattorini, TV presenter on The Wine Show, wine writer and one of the leading wine Twitterati, for having an opinion piece published in The Times this month (19 August). Anyone who has seen our rants will know we take a similar view – for more and a stack of graphics and tables, see ‘19 unpalatable truths about UK wine duty.’

Here’s a chunky extract from his article.

“If you’re a beer, spirits or cider drinker you’ve had it easy for the past few years. Duty on wine has risen by 39 per cent since 2010, while for spirits and cider the figure is 27 per cent, and for beer 16 per cent. The last chancellor to cut still wine duty was Nigel Lawson, 35 years ago, when we still had pound notes in circulation.

But why? Wine isn’t the cause of some dark and growing social problem. Quite the opposite. It marks a civilised end to the day for millions of people across the country. Is wine perhaps the choice of a gilded class who can easily afford the tax burden? Hardly. It is the nation’s favourite and most widely consumed alcoholic drink.

Wine’s problem is that it’s the choice of stereotypical “hard-working families” — Britain’s polite, pragmatic middle. Unlike beer, wine doesn’t have powerful corporate lobbyists behind it. And the British wine industry has nothing like the weight and influence of our whisky and spirits producers. So when the chancellor comes to balance the books, the polite, pragmatic, hard-working wine drinker has had nobody to fight their corner.

Until now. The time has come for wine lovers to let politicians know that they should not underestimate our determination not to be fleeced. It’s ridiculous that British wine drinkers are paying 68 per cent of all the wine duty paid in Europe.

When we spend £5 on a bottle of wine in a supermarket, 61 per cent of that price is tax — 83p of it VAT and £2.23 duty. It’s crazy too that just 30p of that £5 goes to the winemaker to tend vines, grow and harvest grapes, produce and bottle the wine we enjoy.

Wine Drinkers UK, supported by British wine writers and dealers, is fighting the wine drinker’s corner, lobbying for taxes on wine to be cut and encouraging wine lovers to write to their MPs. It’s time our most popular and civilised alcoholic drink was treated fairly…”

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