A taxing question: Is beer or wine the national drink?
WHY IS it that beer is so often seen as the drink of choice for the man in the street? That might have been true 30 or 40 years ago, but is it now? Not according to lobby groupWine Drinkers UK whose latest research, courtesy of YouGov, shows a clear national preference for wine. One in three adults who drank alcohol preferred wine, ahead of beer or spirits.
Why does that matter, you might ask?
Well, among politicians, there is little doubt beer is still the poster boy drink of the people, and successive chancellors have attempted to curry favour with the masses by knocking a couple of pence off the price of a pint. By contrast, wine has been seen as a middle-class drink and therefore fair game for duty increases. So it’s not surprising tax rises on wine have outstripped both beer and spirits over the past decade: up 39 per cent, 16 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.
Which means the current tax on a £5 bottle of plonk stands at an eye-watering 61 per cent – comprising £2.23 duty and 83 penceVAT.Wine Drinkers UK argues that, as wine is no longer just the tipple of choice for comfortable middle-class drinkers, a tax hike would be a tax hike on everyone.They believe wine, beer and spirits should be treated the same and are urging the Chancellor to avoid another hefty hike in the March budget.
Now this column has long been an equal opportunities fan of beer, wine and spirits. But clearly politicians need to update the way they perceive wine.
After all, fair’s fair, right?
PS: The survey found crisp, dry whites (pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc) were our overall favourite wines, with full-bodied reds, like malbec and shiraz, in second place and Prosecco taking third place. Here are some jolly suggestions.