WHAT does 2018 hold in store for the wine-drinker? For many of us, there are concerns about the effect of Brexit. Will we revert to the status quo ante as far as wine regulations are concerned? I hope not.
There will also be the effect on the amount of tax that we pay on wines from different countries. I recently had some New Zealand wine delivered to me, and it is not on the invoice that, in addition to the duty and the VAT, I had to pay something called CCT, which amounted to 6.7p per bottle — presumably because the wine came from somewhere beyond the European Union.
A second worry is the deficit in worldwide wine production in 2017. I have seen this quoted as being as much as 40 per cent less than normal. This was not the case in every wine-producing region, however: in Burgundy, the quantity was above average, but few of us who drink Burgundy regularly. While I do not foresee that there will be a noticeable shortage of wine on the supermarket shelves, I expect that prices will rise. I also think that there will be a more pronounced move towards our drinking younger wines.
It is difficult to say how much of this is due to global warming, but I predict that weather patterns around the world will become less certain. This cannot bode well for wine production.
I am also uncertain what will be the effect of the introduction of minimum pricing per unit of alcohol in Scotland — a concept that also appears to have the support of the governments of Wales and Northern Ireland. It seems that a 75cl bottle contains 11.25 units of alcohol, which would suggest a minimum price of £5.62, as opposed to its actual price of about £7.
Does the new legislation mean that a mail-order company based in Scotland which is selling, for example, a selection of spirits will have two separate price lists: one for its Scottish customers, and one for those in the rest of Britain? If this is the case, can they move their nominal address to, say, Carlisle, and sell to their Scottish customers at English prices?
If, in the future, the cost of a two-litre bottle of high-strength cider will be £3 more expensive on the shelf, who pockets the £3, the retailer or the Government? Will there spring up cut-price liquor stores on the English side of Hadrian’s Wall to cater for the alcohol-seeking Picts and Scots?
Let us not worry too much about the future. What should we be drinking in 2018? If you enjoy, as I do, a glass of Malbec, I would suggest the Finca las Moras 2017, from San Juan, in Argentina, from Tesco, at £6. Other red wines that I like include the Wakefield Shiraz/Viognier 2016 (Aldi, £5.99).
For white-wine-drinkers, may I suggest an old Australian favourite, Yalumba Y Viognier 2016 (Sainsbury’s, £8), or the Italian Triade (Waitrose, £8.79), an intriguing blend of Fiano, Falanghina, and Greco grapes from Campania? (There is also a Triade red wine.)
Whatever you choose to drink, may you have a joyful 2018.