10 September 2008
By Douglas Blyde
WITH THANKS to Chancellor Alastair Darling, Britons pay the most duty on wine in Europe. He levied 14 pence more on every bottle in his last bungled budget. Plus VAT, of course. This inflation represents the first installment of the new alcohol tax 'escalator' which will raise duty by two per cent per year for at least the next four.
Unsurprisingly for a politico, I think his actions are myopic. Wine has been around since 6000 BC and will most definitely outlast Darling's punitive policies. Perhaps he missed the benefits enjoyed by our French, Italian and Spanish neighbours?
I recently enrolled on the Wine and Spirit Education Trust's prestigious Diploma course. The required reading includes a sprightly little book rather unambiguously titled 'Understanding Wine Technology' (David Bird). Less then ten pages in, and its chartered chemist author already extols the virtues of regular, moderate drinking…
Apart from being a social lubricant, the alcohol in wine actually increases the good version of cholesterol, which lowers the risk of heart disease. It is also brimful with antioxidants, including nature's antibiotic, Phytoalexin. This has been proven to restrain cancer and even (to my surprise) Chlamydia. Wine is naturally enriched with Potassium too, which counteracts the modern scourge of excess salt saturating some of our diets. And last but not least, wine has been proved to lower the risk of thromboses, Alzheimer's and Leukaemia.
Thinking outside of Europe for a moment, many people will have tasted the product of Lindeman's Winery in Australia's Hunter Valley. Whilst its founder, Dr. Henry Lindeman was a member of the Temperance Society, he firmly believed that if people drank wine rather than spirits, alcoholism would disappear. His view was shared by his contemporaries Dr. Christopher Rawson (of Penfold's) and Dr. William Angove (of Angove's, Australia's winery of the year 2008).
So Darling, have a glass on me and stop being so taxing.
|I recently discovered a delightful, lightly sparkling white from the Basque region called 'Txacoli'. Theatrically poured from a great height, its froth fleets fast, leaving a refreshing, green apple crisp liquid behind. At just 10.5p/c, it complements almost every tapas I can imagine. Available from 'Bedales', Borough & Spitalfields Markets, the 'Hope & Anchor' gastropub, Waterloo and 'Pinchito Tapas', Shoreditch.|
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