Bleak or Boom? Predictions for Wine

I read a report last week in Off Licence News “Bleak Prediction For Wine” which raised concerns that “rising taxes may mean there is no future for wine in the UK”. A leading Californian winemaker Joel Peterson, founder of Ravenswood Winery, told OLN:

I’m frightened there won’t be a future because there is this push to change the drinking habits of Great Britain.

The continuing rising taxation will eventually price wine out of the market, and I don’t think wine was really the problem. You punish the beverage of temperance at the same time as you punish the beverage of excess.”

Peterson warned that other Californian wineries are turning away from the UK as there is an unwillingness to invest and do more business, because it doesn’t appear there is a future in it.

John McLaren, UK director of the Wine Institute of California, said the UK market is losing interest for wineries around the world, not just California.

Is this true? Is this supposed disenchantment a tax and price issue? Or could it be a sign if changing tastes?

When we first start drinking wine we embark on a journey of discovery. We start with the familiar and work our way up to the unknown as we become bolder, more adventurous and more confident in what styles of wine we have learned to appreciate.

Our palates change as we mature. When we are young we are more receptive to sweet flavours and as we age we learn to enjoy others.

Look at the explosion of alcopops in the last decade. Then look at the amount of fruit flavoured ciders and spirits available – vodkas in particular. Look at how wines have been marketed to promote fruit flavours.

Has the public’s palate been trained towards the heavier fruit flavoured wines from the New World . . . and what’s more are they growing tired of it?

If you check the demographics of England alone those people who were drinking alcopops a decade ago now number 11, 127, 511 and are the largest section in society. That’s an awful lot of people who could be looking towards new wine discoveries.

Variety is the spice of life and perhaps the British are fed up with the same offerings month after month on supermarket shelves? Mass produced wines from the New World are consistent in their style and flavour, they don’t have subtle changes with each new vintage and they don’t offer anything new.

The UK doesn’t have to look far if tastes are shifting. We have some of the greatest wine producing regions as our neighbours. Bordeaux has a bewildering complexity of variety within each AOC.

The British aren’t daft either. We are well aware that the carbon emissions from packaging, shipping and transporting wines from the New World is going to be a lot more than those wines found on our doorstep.

 We are also well aware that shipping across the globe costs more and that this is passed on in the price of the wine. What does that make the wine really worth before all the shipping costs are slapped on top?

The green dollar bill isn’t Green at all. There are 5298 miles (4603 nautical miles) between Bristol and San Francisco in California and 484 (420.3 nautical miles) from Bristol to Bordeaux.

Will we see a shift away from fruit bombs? Are tastes changing? There will always be a Lambrini for a section of the market, just as there was a Lambrusco as its predecessor but what will Generation Y be drinking in the next few years?

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