jamie goode's wine blog: (Moral) panic on the streets of...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

(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.


At 8:50 AM, Blogger charlie said...

"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."

So, do doctors now set duty levels?

I thought this post a massive over-reaction. But there is a problem and perhaps the trade should be more proactive.

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Adamvdb said...

Maybe there needs to be a distinction made between the quality products and the mass produced effulent that fuels the head line grabbing problems??

A minimum cost per unit would probably not affect the wine business anyway - maybe Jacobs Creek & Thunderbird! No bad thing.

I think we can be justifiably apprehensive that the government would be inclined to legislate in some freedom restricting sort of way rather than educate and inform to attempt to alleviate the problem.

Hackney want to make the whole borough a drinking on the street free zone - I can understand the sentiment to reduce the drunks roaming around at night. But there are already laws relating to being drunk and disorderly - why do we need more laws, if not just to demonstrate that something is being done without actually addressing the rteal problem.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Barry said...

I've lived in Germany over 30 years...and have made many visits to the surrounding countries..
It is a British thing.....not sure why..
is it the mentality ....elsewhere...it seems to be under control compared to the UK....
Surely an intelligent person would see a difference between beer drinking louts and a wine drinking couple.

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Adam's totally right about all the laws already being in place to deal with much of the problem, but the police don't enforce them. Still, in this modern age, governments put through legislation for political/PR reasons, pandering to the Daily Mail-style "something must be done" crowd who don't really care that the thing that is done has no effect (as they've moved onto something else by then)

At 4:41 PM, Blogger The Wine Mule said...

It's an American thing, too. You'll recall we actually outlawed wine (and all alcoholic beverages) for a while. The stigma still lives on, especially here in the South where I live.

And, fortunately, the Great Experiment with prohibition turned out to be a huge failure. It might be worth reminding teetotallers of this from time to time.

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Iris said...

Barry, unfortunately, these neoprohibitionistic tendencies are not at all a Bristish thing - especially, when wine is concerned.

In France, the so called Evin Law, which exists since 1991, has done a lot of harm to wine producers - it took nearly twenty years, restricting communication about alcoholic beverages (and wine is totally treated as such a dangerous thing)to a strict minimum, excluding especially every allusion to pleasure... and it's getting worth, since the lobby of the anti-alcoholic league got more and more hold of the government - wine has become a health problem in official communications, stigmatizing even the traditional 2 or 3 glasses accompanying a genuine French menue as cancer risk. An alarming version of the French paradox!

We nearly lost the right to do free tastings of our wines in spring, have to warn pregnant women on our labels, and have to be very careful about what we publish on our Internet sites and blogs...

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love wine, drink it every day but doing so is as indefensible as smoking. Alcohol is poison. Once we let the state prohibit smoking in certain circumstances we opened the door for their doing the same with alcohol. Eating habits are soon to be policed in the same way. People who wanted their right to drink protected should have seen it coming and defended the rights of smokers when they were curtailed.

At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Fair point, Pastor Niemöller, but we don't know how to stop them any more. The vaguely amusing thing here is that many of the most enthusiastic drinkers I know are doctors.

At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

By the way, who should we be hanging?

At 4:51 AM, Blogger Couves said...

Neoprohibitionism is definitely on the rise here in the US. Health and environmentalism are becoming something like a second religion here, so that doesn’t help. And with the War on Drugs, children are taught in government schools to regard Alcoholic beverages primarily as drugs (then we wonder why they’re pounding the stuff).

It’s depressing to hear about neoprohibitionism in Europe – I thought you guys were more civilized about such things.

Of course, the health aspect cuts both ways. A Time magazine article reported research that showed moderate alcohol consumption has health benefits that are comparable to regular exercise:

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I blame it on the Puritans. Which is why it's an Anglo-Saxon thing, I think.

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Peter Rollinson said...

It is quite simple, really. It's all about money. It always is.

We are being primed for large duty increases, or other such measures. Consider the key ingredients:
1) The country has a massive burden of debt.
2) The mass-media is hysterical and due to fallen advertising revenue has a thirst for cheap material to pack the space once filled by Journalism.
3) Alcohol is habit-forming and very popular.
4) There is a persistent, widespread issue of alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour.
5) Retail in the UK is dominated by massive chains locked in combat for our money, and very happy to fight it out with deep discounts or loss-leaders.
6) In the UK we have become accustomed to being "saved from ourselves" via taxation (in which I include many speeding fines): It's not a new concept.
= Put these ingredients together and the result is obvious.

Booze, Fags, Fuel & Motoring. Soft targets with Social / Environmental / Political angles that can be exploited so easily for the purpose of increasing tax revenue. The culture of spin has permeated every pore of our political system, and it's easy to spot the machine in operation.

I know I am simplifying, and wouldn't claim to have covered every angle but it seems obvious to me. Money makes the world go round, and we are merely clinging on for the ride.

At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Plamen Georgiev said...

A minimum cost per unit should solve the problem. But the government is desperate for tax revenue because they wasted it all on the banks that next April the duty increase will be 12p at least.

The supermarkets will of course continue to push wine as a lost leader by squeezing producers and suppliers.

In my opinion, the best way is by educating people that wine is part of the meal and it should be consumed with food. I have noticed that even amongst the wine lovers there is a tendency to drink a lot of wine on its own.

It is a cultural thing.

At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Author www.wineanorak.com !
You are not right. I suggest it to discuss. Write to me in PM, we will communicate.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home