Sadly, I don't think Philip Hammond reads my articles, however, I'm going to have a moan at him anyway.

The price of wine is about to go up again. The chancellor kindly delayed the increase in duty until after Christmas, but it is a moot question as to why he singled out wine for the increase but almost nothing else. There will be no increase in duty on beer or spirits. There will be a slight change in some ciders but the average cider drinker will hardly notice.

The wine duty increase will be about 15p a bottle on the shelf. You might have noticed from previous articles that I would describe myself as an avid wine drinker with a penchant for other decent booze. So, I'm delighted that beer duty hasn't gone up particularly for the burgeoning craft beer sector. Britain's craft beer boys are booming. You may think that by saying boys I'm sexist, but the reality is they are indeed mostly boys, and mostly with beards.

A cynic, and yes, I could also describe myself as one of them, might look to wine as a European import and beer as a domestic industry and you know where that argument could lead. A cynic might also say the middle classes drink wine and are also quaffing too much of a weekday evening.

The increase in duty might have a tiny health benefit, a tiny exchequer benefit, and employ a few more bearded brewers. However, in a shrinking UK wine market (3-4% down last year, depending on who you listen too) I think the tinkering is just a bit of bureaucracy that will put another £50 on my yearly wine bill and that is before brexitty nonsense kicks in. I realise the average annual wine bill will be smaller, nay, much smaller than mine but I still wonder why my wine bill has gone up and my beer one hasn't? I hope you are reading this after an excellent EU divorce settlement and the resulting pound currency rebound makes this whole article redundant. Here's hoping, I'll even raise a glass of beer and maybe even grow a beard to that scenario!


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