Cheers, George

As I sit down and finish the end of a bottle of tasting wine (Vidal Riesling, 2010, Malborough) to mark the survival of another Budget Day I register that i’m not toasting the Chancellor.

From March 25th every bottle of wine I buy will have £2 of UK Excise duty on it. If this bottle has also been imported, it’s going to have UK Customs duty on it. Add on to that 20% in VAT… and my head is spinning. But, give or take, half the price of your £6 bottle of wine will be given to the exchequer. And somewhere in that roughly £3 is the cost of shipping, warehousing, distribution, admin, operating margin… oh and yes, the cost of your (hopefully) delicious wine.

I might add the duty price is even more for sparkling, over £2.50 excise. I haven’t worked out how many bottles of bubbly i’ll need for my wedding later this year, but the case for British Sparkling is a strong one. I’ll be able to avoid one duty.

In France, duty is just 3 pence! But before any of you tweet me to remind me of the benefits of the booze cruise… the fuel duty freeze happens in September, a month after I get married, and there’s that whole exchange rate thing. Today £1 would have got me 1.17 Euros. Before the Jubilee last year it hit a three-and-a-half year high of 1.25, in 2007, it was above 1.4.

But I can’t just blame the Tories for the impending duty rise because it was Labour’s last budget in 2010, that introduced the unpalatable taste on the horizon. “Darling, don’t you remember they increased the rate of duty by 2% above inflation for each year to 2014-2015.”

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