I always look forward to February 1st each year following my monthly abstinence from all kinds of alcohol during the preceding month. I feel it's only fair to give my liver and perhaps, more importantly, my mind a rest from the highs and lows which invariably follow after excessive tippling over the festive season.
This year as always, I celebrated the first day of the second month with a gourmet supper and a good natter with a friend, who is not only a great imbiber but a fountain of knowledge of the demon drink. For our annual get together I served a delightful wine from Rueda, an area that I know well. Half way through the evening, I had one of those moments when you suddenly realise the cost of what is swiftly heading down your throat. I seethed as the two bottles totalled £26. This is not excessive, but my seethe was exacerbated by the fact that I remembered only a few months ago whilst in Spain the same two bottles in a bar cost me only £8. My guest told me he had long given up financing wine merchants and supermarkets by shipping in wine directly.
I have never come across a poor wine merchant but to be fair to the trade, this country has some of the highest taxes on wine anywhere in Europe. I distinctly remember when we joined the EEC being promised that so many goods including wine would become much cheaper and would be on par with our European neighbours. What a con! Successive governments have done nothing but break those promises by continually ladling even more punitive taxes on imported wines and spirits. Excise duty on wine is £2.06. Then of course there is the shopkeeper's profit and another lump of tax to the government at 20% VAT.
Well, I have had enough of paying through the nose so after contacting the wine producer I have just received one case including shipping for £90 a saving of £66.
There are quite a number of Spanish companies now shipping wines and spirits to the UK with huge savings and delivery within seven days. Incidentally, my delightful wine is a Verdejo called Adrede and can be purchased directly from Bodegabierta.es. They also have a fabulous shop and wine gallery in Madrid where you can also order wines at despacioarteyvino.com.