Have you noticed the quality of supermarket wine declining? Have you noticed prices of mass-market wine in the UK rising over the last few years?
The explanation lies in the mealy-mouthed declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer each Budget day when he announces, usually in a rather self-satisfied way, that for taxes/duties on alcohol there will be 'no change'. What he means is not that there will be no change to duty rates but that there will be no changes to the measures for a duty escalator brought in in 2008 whereby wine duty rises automatically by inflation plus 2%. So, every year, duties on wines and spirits rise inexorably, by 50% since 2008, as set out years ago.
Today, 57% of the price of an average bottle of wine goes straight to the Exchequer in the form of taxes. OK, it is a smaller proportion on the sort of wine most visitors to this site are likely to pay, but in the UK our duty rates are some of the highest in Europe - on all wines.
You can do something very easily to register your lack of enthusiasm for this state of affairs.There is now a well-co-ordinated campaign called Call Time on Duty. If you go to this website, you can see all the background information and go here to send a standard letter to your Member of Parliament to protest. Just enter your postcode and the website will do most of the rest. I did it and it was delightfully simple. We need to get the message through to the Chancellor George Osborne that thee systematic increases in duty are strangling the wine (and restaurant) businesses.
This year's Budget is 19 March.Write to your MP now to argue that it is time to stop squeezing one of our finest commercial sectors.