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UK becomes a nation of wine drinkers


 

  • New polling shows that wine is now the most popular alcoholic drink for UK adults, across all ages and regions in the country

  • Two thirds of British consumers believe that alcohol is taxed too highly

  • Leading wine expert Matthew Jukes and Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, comment on the changing trends


Wine drinking is no longer just for connoisseurs, with new polling commissioned by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) showing it is now the favoured alcoholic drink for 60% of UK adults, compared to all other alcohol products.

Over half (60%) of UK adults, including the majority in each age group and across all regions of the UK, now choose wine over other alcoholic drinks, amounting to over 30 million regular wine consumers across the country.

The UK wine industry, which includes a growing number of vineyards, is one of the most influential and diverse in the world. It is worth £17.3bn in economic activity to the British economy, supports nearly 270,000 jobs and contributes £8.6bn to the public finances annually.

However, tax paid on the wine sold in the UK is currently at a record high. Remarkably, UK consumers currently pay nearly 60% tax on an average priced bottle of wine and have not had a tax cut on their favourite drink since 1984.

When asked about current levels of alcohol tax, almost two-thirds (64%) of people think that alcohol duty is too high.

The polling also found:

  • Over half of consumers in every UK region chose wine as their drink of choice

  • Wine is now the preferred drink of choice for more 25-34 year olds than ever before, with over half (57%) choosing wine over other alcoholic products

  • UK consumers are unware of the scale of the English wine industry with 50% thinking that there are fewer than 100 vineyards in the UK. The real figure is 448, producing

Commenting on the polling, WSTA Chief Executive Miles Beale said:

“Our polling shows that regardless of the stereotypes, wine is now the nation’s favourite drink and is enjoyed by a majority of people across all ages, regions and social classes.

“While our consumption of alcohol continues to fall, wine is our new favourite drink and, with the global emergence of British wine and food products, we are calling on the Chancellor to drop alcohol duty by 2% at the Budget in March. By cutting the duty on wine, the Chancellor would provide welcome relief for a growing British industry and a drink much loved by millions of consumers, as well as generating an increase of more than £1billion annually for the public finances.”

The move towards wine drinking by British consumers is reflected in the importance now placed on the UK wine market worldwide, with the UK now the sixth largest market globally.

UK drinkers are also drinking more responsibly. HMRC data shows that total alcohol consumption per head of the UK population fell by 18.4% between 2004 and 2013, from 9.5 litres of pure alcohol per person to 7.7.

Leading wine expert Matthew Jukes commented:

“This polling finally dispels the myth that wine is elitist. It is the most popular alcoholic drink in the UK, which makes the fact that it is so highly taxed a complete anomaly. Why should consumers be paying so much for a bottle of wine, when we all know how much cheaper a really great quality wine is when we go abroad for our holidays?

“A tax cut on the most popular alcoholic drink in the UK will help everyone. It will help industry, pubs, restaurants and, most importantly, the consumer. A tax cut will help winemakers all over the world improve the quality of what goes into the bottle – meaning UK consumers will get better value for money.”

According to EY, if the wine industry was given a 2% cut in duty at the next Budget, over 10,000 additional jobs would be created across the supply chain, from English and Welsh vineyards and wineries, to pubs, hotels and restaurants.

The Chancellor would also receive an increase of more than £1 billion for the public finances, helping to drive down the deficit and rebalance the economy while also supporting a great British success story.

Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

"This revealing poll shows just how harshly British consumers are treated when they want to enjoy a well-earned tipple. Politicians always talk about a cost of living crisis, but they make it far worse with punitive taxes on drinks that usually hit the poorest hardest.

“The Chancellor has a golden opportunity in the upcoming Budget to drop the duty and give hard-pressed taxpayers a break."

Want to know more? Ask Carlo Gibbs
Carlo Gibbs

Carlo Gibbs - Director of UK Policy & Social Responsibilty

Carlo is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the WSTA’s domestic policy work. This includes UK policy development, Government relations, parliamentary engagement in the UK and devolved assemblies, and its wider public affairs program. His remit covers a number of key policy areas including licensing, duty and health. He also leads on the WSTA’s social responsibility work including managing Retail of Alcohol Standards Group and its initiative around responsible retailing, including Challenge 25 and other partnership initiatives aimed at tackling alcohol harm.

Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 020 7089 3871

Twitter @wstauk

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