Some Interesting facts to ponder over (or argue about!)
Just so you know what you are paying for, here are this years alcohol duty figures
The Chancellor has frozen all alcohol duty for the coming year so excise duty will remain as last year.
Taxation - UK Excise Duty
Rates per bottle from 1 February 2020 (excluding VAT @ 20%)
(Figures are approximate due to rounding up - effective from 01.02.2019)
Wine £2.23 per 75cl
Exceeding 5.5% but not exceeding 8.5% abv £2.16 per 75cl
Exceeding 8.5% but not exceeding 15% abv £2.86 per 75cl
Fortified Wines £2.98 per 75cl
Spirits (37.5% abv) £7.54 per 70cl
Spirit based RTDs (5.5%) £0.42 per 27.5cl
Cider/Perry (up to 7.5%) £0.23 per pint
Beer (4%) £0.43 per pint
Poorer quality wine comes in bottles with screw caps.
Cork tops may be traditional, but the idea that they being higher quality than screw cap wines is a total myth. Some of the world’s top winemakers have switched to screw cap as it keeps the wine in perfect condition and there’s no risk of it being corked! However, corks do allow greater oxidisation which helps to develop more complex flavour profiles in good wines.
Is seafood is too delicate in flavour to pair with anything other than white wine?
Generally, yes, white wine is a classic match for seafood, but light reds and sparkling also work wonderfully. Pink fish, such as salmon or trout, is very flexible and fantastic with whites, reds and rosés. While a drop of fizz goes very nicely with oysters and battered cod.
It may be made from grapes, but most wine isn’t vegan
Correct! This is because many winemakers use animal products as refining agents to give their wine a clear appearance. Traditionally, egg whites have always been used as a fining agent for red wine, while milk protein has been used for white. It's only in more recent years that winemakers have opted for clay-based methods to make their wine vegan.
Rosé wine is a blend of red and white wine
Many people believe this but it is false. Rosé is made from red grapes, but the pink colour of the wine comes from a very short fermentation and minimal contact with the grape skins. While blending red and white wine to get pink is doable, it's actually forbidden in most of the EU. So, producers make rosé in the traditional winemaking method of fermenting and pressing red grapes.
Organic wines are unlikely to give you a hangover
It sounds too good to be true – and that’s because it is! Any type of wine will give you a hangover if you drink too much of it. A small amount of sulphites occur in wine naturally as a by-product of the fermentation process, and some believe it is the sulphites are to blame for hangovers. Organic wine tends to be sulphite-free, which is where the myth comes from.
Complimentary wine was a cornerstone of Australian cellar visits – but as wineries reopen, they’re rethinking the tradition. For decades free wine tastings have been an essential part of the Australian cellar door experience. They helped turn a nation of beer drinkers on to the charms of shiraz, sémillon and sagrantino.
Before the Covid-19 shutdown, there was already a move away from this tradition: the number of Australian wineries charging for tastings went from 29% in 2017-18 to 50% in 2019, according to Wine Australia’s 2019 cellar door survey report. As wineries have re-opened post-shutdown, more are questioning the value of giving away their product free. The way that vineyards present wines hasn’t changed too much but they have noticed that since charging has been introduced, visitors are paying more attention to the wines and the stories behind them and having a cover charge puts more of a value on the experience.
That logic has spread to Europe. Acyually, few of the British vineyards have ever provided free tastings and they have never had such a strong tradition of doing this, instead preferring to place a minimal charge on the visit. No doubt influenced by the fact that British Vineyards tend to be smaller and a lot actually blend and bottle other vineyards wines.
In wine regions internationally, like those across France and the US, nominal tasting fees were already commonplace. The trend everywhere now, and particularly in the UK, is for vineyard to charge a realistic price for tastings, typically for groups of eight or more. When their doors were forced to close earlier this year, it provided the perfect opportunity for them to create a more structured presentation for visitors. This may include some type of food to complete the experience. Now most tastings must be booked in advance and, typically, a host guides groups of up to 10 through four brackets of paired wines.
A typical charge for a wine tasting would now seem to be in the £10 to £30 range. The logic is simple, those unwilling to pay for the tastings are unlikely to be among their customers anyway. The winemakers work hard to produce their product so why give it away?
Winemakers who’ve have changed their approach say that even though the numbers attending are lower, they’re getting a higher spend per person and that their revenue was “up”! So why would they change that?