Category Archives: Ramblings and Rants

17 unpalatable truths about UK wine duty

UK duty on wine went up by 10p a bottle to £2.60 (£2.16 plus Vat) in the Budget this month. You’d be forgiven for not picking up on that, as it’s customary for the Chancellor of the day to confuse the media with a short burst of twaddle. “I will make no changes to previously planned upratings of duties on alcohol” is what he said. What he meant was that all alcohol duties were to increase by the chunky rate of inflation (RPI) of 3.9%.

The rise of 8p plus VAT, which came into effect on 13 March, is actually a significant whack on the cost price of your average bottle in a supermarket or in a pub. And completely out of line with what you pay on the continent; here are some facts: Keep reading

MWs write to MPs over Article 50

According to the Wine and Spirit Association in the UK, 90% of their members were in favour of remaining in the EU. We all know that it’s pretty clear that Parliament will give the go ahead to the Theresa May to trigger Article 50 but that hasn’t stopped people in the trade writing to their MPs before the vote on Article 50 – notably in constituencies which voted Remain. Here are some of them, including a couple from Masters of Wine, and a reply from an MP.

1. Tim Atkin MW to his Tory MP in Putney, the cabinet minister Justine Greening. Keep reading

Why UK wine prices are set to rise 5% to 10%

005225_bottles_6_twitHere’s a snapshot of how wine prices in general are likely to increase in the UK, given the fall in Sterling since June. As UK duty is a fixed £2.08 plus VAT per bottle for still wine, expect 5% on a £5 bottle – because the cost of the wine itself is relatively small – and up to 10% on bottles that sell for £10 or more. Beware the likely Toblerone effect in some cases (less spent on the wine inside, for the same consumer price) and note that these numbers don’t include any increases from producers. Keep reading

Taking peace for granted, and working together

We’re not allowed to vote in the UK referendum on the EU, having moved to France over 15 years ago. Enough has been said about the economy, immigration and self-interest, so I wanted to share an unusual and poignant tale about working together.

Dad tour June 2003 - 02 copy – Version 2

Noel Chavasse’s grave at Brandhoek near Ypres

Captain Noel Chavasse was a doctor, and the only man to be awarded the Victoria Cross twice during the First World War. He won the first at Guillemont during the Battle of the Somme a hundred years ago this summer, rescuing ‘some twenty badly-wounded men’ from no-man’s land under fire, and a second VC at Passchendaele the following August in 1917.

’Noel Chavasse never killed anyone, nor did he even fire a shot in anger. He was never aggressive or vindictive; never for a moment did he lose his essential decency and restraint. Yet he is one of only three men who have won the VC twice and in some ways the most remarkable of all.’

From ’Supreme Courage – Heroic stories from 150 years of the Victoria Cross’, by General Sir Peter de la Billière.

Noel was the first cousin of my granny, Esme Quinney, née Chavasse (hence he was my ‘first cousin twice removed’). They and their families were descendants of a Frenchman who had settled in England early in the eighteenth century. Chavasse is the middle name of my late father, myself and my children, so you can imagine that Noel’s story has always been close to our hearts. Keep reading

One reason for UK wine lovers to stay in the EU

Gov_blogCurrently, there’s no limit to the amount of wine you can bring back to the UK from France and the EU, provided it’s for your own use and you travel with the goods. That way you save £2.50 a bottle in UK duty (of £2.08 plus VAT on the duty). If you bought the wine outside the EU, however, the limit is 4 litres, plus a whopping 2 litres of sparkling wine. If Britain leaves the EU, we’re struggling to see what incentive there is for the taxman to increase the non-EU allowance. Keep reading