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The Wine Industry Post-Brexit...... probably
ACT ONE. Scene One.
The year 2024. A Super Yacht. Behind it, the coastline of a post-Brexit dystopian Britain. Boris and Nigel drink wine.
Nigel: Well, Boris. You've finally managed to negotiate a trade deal with the EU. A deal that's good for you, good for me and... well, that's about it.
Boris: Fuff, fuff, fuff, well, err, thanks, what what what, fuff. Cheers!
Boris: Yowza! Fruitier than a night out with boys at the Bullingdon Club!
Nigel: Chateau Petrus 2022. It says in these tasting notes that after the April heatwave, the July frost, the August tornadoes and the plague of locusts at harvest, there were only five cases produced at 28% abv! You don't suppose that Greta Thunberg might be onto something with this climate change lark?
Nigel: Still, only thoroughly decent chaps like you and I can afford it now, hey Boris.
Boris: Now, now now, I, I, I said I'd get Brexit done, I never said it would be any good.
Nigel: You didn't even promise it on the side of a bus.
Boris: Veritas enim dicit National Expressium!
Nigel: Well, quite.
Back in the real world I am neither economist, political commentator, or for that matter clairvoyant, and even if I was what the past couple of decades has shown us is that economical predictions are foolhardy at best. One would have to be either mad, drunk or both to try and forecast what the dickens happens next in this extraordinary chapter of British politics.
The wine trade is already feeling a sharp kick in the shins as a result of the weakened Pound, an entirely natural Brexit knock-on effect. However, currencies rise and fall, the current squeeze on the wine trade is not the 'Brexit effect' per se. The optimist inside me says that whatever trade deal is beaten out it is in neither parties interest for negotiations to turn sour. Claret, Prosseco, Mosel Reisling, Champagne, Port and Sherry - the British appetite for these delectables is etched in history. 55% of British wine imports are European, 17% of all production in Champagne heads our way. Common sense needs to prevail, though sadly that may be asking too much.
The cost of any potential, tariffs, extra paperwork, lab analysis etc. on wines entering the country from the EU can be easily swallowed up by a large, industrial producer, but it the smaller producer who has much more to lose. It is this that is of most concern; that the boutique, interesting wines, the wines that we like to sell and drink could suffer in the event of a trade deal that is unkind to the wine industry. It has been reported that importers are already stockpiling Champagne. It makes for the sort of eye-catching, alarmist headline that helps sell a publication but is it all just another case of panic buying? Remember this is a country where the sight of a single snow flake can see people clearing the supermarket shelves of bread, baked beans and milk. Even so, an extra pound on a thirty pound bottle of Champagnes is easily disguised, less so the extra pound on a ten pound bottle of wine. It might be oh so tempting for the government to give a struggling post-Brexit economy a boost by further raising the already substantial tax on the middle-classes favourite tipple - wine.
However, even if all the worst predictions and permutations come to pass and our traditional favourites take a hit there is plenty of wine in the world to keep us entertained post-Brexit. Perhaps it will be the turn of Eastern Europe to shine on these shores, perhaps wine trading with Argentina and Chile will become stronger than ever and in decades to pass we will be plucking bottles of Mendoza Malbec from our cellars as if they were the Cabernets and Merlots of Bordeaux. As I say, this is all merely further speculation on what have been uncertain, divisive, often unpleasant times for Bexiteers and Remainers alike, but at least we still have wine. It is the drink that sits on the Sunday lunch table. It is the drink that has a language all of its own. It is drunk at weddings, christenings, funerals, birthdays and in church. It was the drink they drank at the last supper for heaven's sake. If there is one drink in the world that screams triumph over adversity more than any other, it remains wine.
Post Brexit Wines with a difference:
From the war-torn hillsides of the Lebanon it's unique flavour profile still has the ability to divide a room. Stewed fruit, incense, nail varnish remover and exotic spices. Individual and iconic. £36.95
Macerated on it's skins. A textured, fresh and fascinating creation from a mish-mash of varieties. Rich and rewarding. £10.95
Soft, ripe, bright red fruit. A cheery demeanour laced with dark chocolate and vanilla spice. Terrific value. £10.95