(Moral) panic on the streets of...
The biggest threat to the wine trade in the UK isn’t supermarket 3-for-£10 offers.
It’s neoprohibitionism. I think the moral panic surrounding alcohol is a huge threat to the drinks industry, because I can’t see it stopping.
The targeting of middle-aged drinkers enjoying a bottle of wine over dinner is particularly alarming. I can understand the government getting upset about booze-crazed youngsters fighting on the streets. But John and Lizzy Smith getting mellow on a bottle of Blossom Hill within the confines of their own four walls isn’t hurting anyone.
A leading doctor recently warned us that we faced a ‘tsunami’ of alcohol-related health problems. It sounds like we are being softened up for further duty increases. And then what? Restrictions on advertising alcohol? Minimum unit pricing? A government alcohol monopoly? Prohibition?
It seems that alcohol is increasingly becoming stigmatised. Soon it will be as socially unacceptable as smoking. I might have to band together with other wine nuts to form an underground wine cell. We’ll rent a disused military bunker in the woods and store our wine there. We'll have an armed guard. We’ll visit under cover of darkness and share our precious bottles: relics of a better, vanished age when people had choice and liberty, and wine was seen as a socially and culturally enriching beverage.