The drink for all celebratory occasions – fortified wine

The drink for all celebratory occasions – fortified wine

Blog | 26 August, 2022

Celebrations marking birthdays, weddings, graduations, and other special occasions had been cancelled due to the pandemic, as Summer 2022 is the UK’s first restriction-free summer for two years, there is a lot of catching up to do.

With this in mind, I turned to my colleagues at the WSTA and asked the all-important question, “What do you drink to celebrate special occasions?” There was a range of answers to follow, sparkling wine included, but port and sherry appeared to be quite popular.

The Government’s current proposals to reform alcohol duty would have a particularly negative impact on the fortified wine business. The total UK market for fortified wine is £311m. Within this, port sales represent £82m. The Government’s proposals would add £1.09 duty to a bottle of port – which would result in an 11% increase on the average price per bottle.

The consultation response from the Government cites health concerns to support the maintenance of higher rates of duty for stronger products. However, fortified wines like port and sherry are rarely consumed irresponsibly, and, as we’ve discovered at the WSTA, they’re bought and consumed at festive occasions and celebrations.

Of all alcoholic drinks, wines and fortified wines are unique in that neither are able to dictate nor  change their ABV. Current proposals would raise the amount of tax on 70% of all wines, 93% of Australian wines, 95% of red wines and 100% of fortified wines during a cost-of-living crisis and create costly new red tape that would threaten the livelihood of small wine businesses.

With the current caretaker Government having decided not to take any decisions that would commit a new administration to a future policy until the new Prime Minister is elected, there is now more time to influence the outcome of the proposals and advocate for a fairer tax for wine and fortified wines. It is important that you reach out to your local MP and ask them to visit your business so you can raise your concerns over the proposed new system. The WSTA have prepared a template letter for you to send to your business’s local MP asking them to visit you here.

Please contact Sophie (sophie@demo.wsta.co.uk) if you have any questions.


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