Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Budget 2011: Osborne's choice

With inflation at 4.4% but a stated desire to reduce the £150 billion deficit as quickly as possible, will duty on wine be increased today?

Monday, 21 March 2011

Wine Relief 2011

Rather late in the day, we decided to join in with the wine trade's efforts to do its bit for Comic Relief. An impromptu tasting was arranged for Friday evening and any local who looked like he or she had at least a fiver to spare was press-ganged into coming along. In the end, around 40 people turned up (it was a two hour tasting in our living room at home so there was a very friendly atmosphere) and tasted from 18 bottles I had opened.

I also put together a quiz which I thought was fairly easy and a blind tasting competition which was less so. In the end, no-one scored more than 11/20 in total so I guess my questions were trickier than I had thought (it was all multiple choice and wine-related although that did include a question about the wine the character Miles in Sideways drinks out of a paper bag - answer, Cheval Blanc).

The highlights, wine-wise, for me at least were the Baglio del Campo di Cristobello "CDC" from Sicily, a white based on Chardonnay and the indiginous Grillo and, in the reds, the Serradenari 2007 Barolo so I must have been in the mood for something Italian on Friday.

Anyway, we raised over £500 so thanks to everyone who came along and/or otherwise donated.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

What does it mean when the press starts quoting you?

Someone just emailed me to tell me I have been quoted by The Drinks Business, a very glossy UK trade publication which has been sent to me from time to time.  The full page on Live: Budget Watch can be seen here but since these are apparently my words, I can't see a problem with quoting them here.

At precisely 12.20pm, a full forty minutes before George Osborne stood up, this was posted:

A rise in VAT is widely expected in today's budget as is yet another increase in duty. What will this actually mean? James Bercovici, of Big Red Wine, writes: "Given that VAT is a percentage and duty a flat rate, this is actually quite simple to work out. VAT is expected to rise to 20% so it is only duty that is uncertain at the moment. But it is reasonable to assume that any [duty] rise will be a percentage increase on the current £20.25 per dozen (still wines). A 5% increase will mean a 2.593% increase in the price of any bottle; a 7% increase will amount to 2.7792%. In monetary terms, a £10 bottle of wine should increase by around 35 pence."

In fact, because duty didn't rise, the bottle retailing at £9.99 would have increased to £10.20 but not on the BRW website where prices were - and still are - maintained at pre-VAT rise levels. So why did I bother writing that stuff in the first place? Don't ask me; I don't even remember writing it!