fermentation

Wine Duty

A couple of weeks ago the Chancellor announced a freeze in the duty payable on wine. But what is Duty on wine?

HM Revenue and Customs state that wine Duty is payable on the production of wine or made-wine of more than 1.2% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Wine is defined as a drink produced by fermentation of fresh grapes or grape must.

Made-wine is any other drink – apart from beer or cider – containing alcohol that is made by fermentation, rather than by distillation or any other process. For example, mead is classed as made-wine.

The amount of Wine Duty payable on wine or made-wine is calculated according to its strength and whether it’s sparkling or still.

So, for example, from 23rd March 2015 the duty on wine or made-wine products with an ABV between 1.2 and 4% would attract duty of £84.21 per hectolitre of product. Whereas, the duty on sparkling wine or made-wine with an ABV between 8.5% and 15% is £350.07 per hectolitre of product. A hectolitre is equal to 100 litres. These rates mean that on some £5 bottles of wine, more than half the cost is made up of tax (duty and VAT).

Last year the ‘escalator’ of predetermined annual increases for alcoholic drinks was scrapped but wine duty still rose with inflation. The freeze this year has been welcomed by the wine industry but according to the ‘Drop the Duty’ campaign, wine has not received a tax cut since 1984. By contrast, duty on spirits and cider were cut by 2% and beer by 1p per pint in the most recent budget. It is also noteworthy, that the UK has the second highest rate of wine duty in the EU, with only Ireland having a higher rate.

However, while not enjoying a cut in duty, the UK’s 30m wine consumers can at least know that they will not pay more duty for a time and at least until well after the general election.

Image is “Freyburg – Weinberg über der Unstrut” by FranzfotoOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Following In The Footsteps of The Past

In Georgia wine is fermented and stored in clay pots as part of a wine making tradition that supposedly stretches back to 8,000 BC.

Known as Qvevri (or Kvevri), they are typically built to contain hundreds or thousands of litres of wine. Made of red clay and built in a coil method, they are sealed inside with beeswax. Once ready they are fully buried in the ground and as such are very stable where temperature and moisture are concerned.

Georgian wine is made by pouring grapes into a Qvevri and crushing them. Over a period of days the grape skins are periodically stirred and crushed. Finally the Qvevri is sealed with a stone cap and the wine is left to ferment and mature over a period of a few years. Once the wine is ready it is pumped out and bottled. The Qvevri is sterilised with lime ready to be used again.

Wines produced in Qvevri is said to be stable by nature, rich in tannins and do not require preservatives to ensure longevity. The tannins found in this wine are meant to limit protein content and prevent the production of particulate matter.

The Greeks and Romans also used large earhenware pots for the fermentation and transportation of wine. The Romans had simple amphorae, with a pointed base. Compared to the Georgians however, the Greeks and Romans were comparatively late to the party.

The vast majority of Georgian wine is exported to Russia, but if you’d like to try Qvevri you can buy it in M&S!

Image is “Georgian Kvevri” by Levan Totosashvilihttps://www.flickr.com/photos/conversum/4066312418/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.