There was a lot of talk on Friday about the announcement of the Government’s Alcohol Strategy. This included a minimum unit price (mup) of 40p a unit of alcohol. This means that those of us that regularly spend £6-£10 on a bottle of wine probably won’t see a price difference due to the mup. However, those that partake in Aldi’s £2.99 a bottle or three bottles under £9, will now be paying more unless those bottles are under 9.97% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) which is doubtful.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) welcomed the mup. Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, stated, ‘CAMRA is pleased that the Prime Minister is seeking to support community pubs with plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol to end pubs being undercut by below cost supermarket alcohol price promotions.’ However, Wednesday, 21 March, when the Rt. Hon. George Osborne MP started with alcohol duty stating “today I have no further changes to make to the duty rates set out by my predecessor,” nobody seemed to notice.

People assumed nothing would change.

The rates set by his predecessor that he is following, however, dictate constant change. It is a tax escalator, which automatically increases tax on alcohol by 2% above inflation. (HM Treasury budget statement page 71.) This means that from this past Sunday, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, consumers will pay 11p more on a 750ml bottle of wine. That does include the 20% VAT that is added onto the duty tax.

This means that if you purchase a £5 bottle of wine. You are paying £1 in VAT, then £1.90 in duty tax. Meaning the actual bottle of wine is only £2.10. Think about the cost of the bottle itself, shipping, labeling, marketing and the shop selling it to figure out that the actual cost of the wine in that bottle is below 50p.

Bob Nielsen of Brightwell Vineyard says, “You have the comforting thought that over £3 in every bottle of wine you buy (assuming the bottle you purchase is over £5.50) is sent to George Osborne!

This means the UK maintains the dubious honour of having the highest tax on wine of any country in the EU.”

CAMRA has set up an e-petition to scrap the tax escalator. If you want to sign the petition visit: which will take you straight to the government site.

Congratulations to Alex Proudfoot of Raoul’s Cocktail Bar on Walton Street. This Oxford born and bred bartender came first his regional of the Appleton Estate Bartender Challenge. Part of his winning concoction was a variation on a cocktail from the ‘Oxford Night Caps ©1827.’ We will all be cheering for you in the finals.