Neil McGuigan, CEO of Australian Vintage, has called on the UK government to encourage responsible drinking with the creation of an alcohol tax band between 9% and 12% abv.
Highlighting the absence of any difference in alcohol duty between 5.5% abv and 15% abv, McGuigan argued that a shift towards lower alcohol wine consumption would be encouraged by the introduction of an intermediate band without posing such a challenge to quality.
Against the backdrop of recent 5.5% abv wine launches such as Blossom Hill Vie, Gallo Summer White and his company’s own offering Vinni, McGuigan noted: “A lot of people have jumped on the opportunity and gone into the laboratory.” However, he maintained: “If you take it from 13.5% to 5.5% you’ll rip the guts out of the wine,” suggesting instead: “Have a tax break between 9% and 12% – we can make lovely wine there.”
In an effort to build support for such a move, not just in the UK market, McGuigan is currently holding discussions with industry bodies including the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia. “We’ve got to show leadership here; prohibition doesn’t work,” he remarked.