I was on TV last night. OK, it was BBC3, but it was still TV. You can see it here.
Let me explain what it was about. A while back I was contacted by the producer of a show called ‘Britain’s Really Disgusting…’, who were doing an episode on drinks. I was really wary about getting involved. I think the wine industry is pretty sound, and that wine – even the most industrial wine – is quite natural in that no flavourings are allowed, although many processing aids are permitted (these aren’t as bad as they sound). So I have no problem with the soundness of commercial wine.
What I do have a problem with is the way wine is sold. In particular, I think that tactical brands (aka trade drivers) are bad, and I’d like to start a campaign against them.
Tactical brands are wines that are dressed up to look like more expensive wines, and then put on the shelf for double what they are really worth. Then they are sold on special half-price deals. A Champagne reduced from £30 to £15? Sounds like a great deal, but it usually isn’t. Wine normally at £7.98 being sold for £3.98? It must be better value than other £4 wines, mustn’t it?
My problem with these trade drivers is that they deceive customers. They are not honest. It’s bad for wine generally, and heavily discounted wines like these cannibalize sales of wines that are appropriately priced and which don’t play the same game. I understand the need for some promotion, and I don’t want to grumble too much about wines that are £6.99 with the occasional promotional activity at £4.99, although I’d rather that wines were sold for the price they are listed at.
At a fundamental level this is an issue of ethics. (Remember ethics?)
I’m pictured here with presenter Alex Riley doing some undercover filming in supermarkets, pointing out the tactical brands.