Talking Wine – May 2014

We have to welcome the budget which did at least cancel the duty escalator on wine as well as reduce the tax on beer and freeze tax on spirits. However I lose count as to how many times I have been told by customers that there was no duty increase on wine this year. Oh yes there was – it may only have been 5p a bottle but with exchange rate issues, shortages in some parts of the world and increased transport and vineyard costs wine prices may well increase in some areas rather more than anticipated. The Chancellor was very clever with his wording emphasising the removal of the escalator which was a 2% above inflation surcharge but failing to remind us clearly that there was still an annual increase. Nevertheless stability in tax has been restored and an inflation linked rise is acceptable!!

A friend of mine and a fellow Wine Café imbiber keeps telling me how disappointed he is with the wines he was encouraged to buy en primeur – that is wines still in barrel or bottled and not released. This is always the cheapest way to buy but judging how a wine will evolve is a difficult art and it is easy to be seduced by smooth talking salesmen (or those with too much wine throbbing through the veins) into investing for the future. Unless you have an unlimited budget and extensive knowledge I suggest you buy your wine when it has been recently tasted and you can guarantee what to expect.