Into the future

05 January 2018

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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.

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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.

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