I thought you might like to know that the UK is the second biggest importer of wine by value to the extent of £3.19 billion worth of wine in 2016, second only to the US at £4.51 billion. Currently, tariffs don’t apply to wine imported from Europe as we are part of the EU trading bloc. We also have free trade with countries like Chile, which has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU.
We are blessed, even if, as I write, the falling pound (1.13 euros today) already makes our wine imports from Europe considerably more expensive than they were last year. What we really need to be prepared for though, we are warned by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, is a hard Brexit in which we will be cut out of all free trade with Europe.
So are we doomed to go to hell in a handbasket? Hell no! Looking on the bright side of life, it’s a little surprising given the gloom associated with our imminent departure from the EU bloc, that no-one has pointed out the tremendous advantages of going it alone. Chewing the fat this weekend with my friend Margaret Rand and a wine loving barrister, Andrew Neish, QC (Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins couldn’t make it) over a refreshing glass or three of sparkling Lambrusco, we were mentally untying all that Brussels red tape.
The most heavily protected name of course is that of Champagne, a region which has fought hard to prevent the glorious name of Champagne from falling into the hands of rogues and villains to be used for products that could so easily be confused with Champagne itself; like cigars, toothpaste and perfume, not to mention our own hard-to-tell-apart-from-Champagne Babycham and the wonderful Thorncroft Elderflower Champagne, admittedly a non-alcoholic drink made from flowers.
So, from 2019 onwards, once we’re no longer a member of this exclusive, albeit overrated, club, we’ll be able to call our English sparkling wine Champagne. How great is that? Yes, we can forget all the failed efforts to dream up those silly alternative names from Britagne to Merritt. Just think of the prestige and status our cottage wine industry will acquire overseas when we market our bubbles around the world as English Champagne.
And why stop there? Let’s have English Prosecco and classify our vineyards like the Champenois do by adopting English Premier Cru and English Grand Cru Champagne. Let’s return to good old Méthode Champenoise instead of the utterly meaningless Méthode Traditionelle. No longer will the Australian blogger Champagne Jayne and her ilk have to fear the stalking lawyers of the CIVC coming down on them like a ton of biodynamic compost in pursuance of stamping out this potential for confusion. Whisper it quietly, but we are even considering changing our name to The Champagne Wine Gang.
This is of course just the tip of a very large, rapidly melting iceberg. Remember when the naughty colonies used to flatter us by imitation with their so-called Sherry and Port. Well, once we’re unshackled from the EU bloc, we’ll be able to ask them once more to re-label their wines as good old retro South African Sherry and Australian Port. Who gives a stuff what they think in Jerez or Oporto? We certainly don’t, which is why we’re putting two Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher Rees-Moggian fingers up to the EU bloc in the first place. And why in a new strong and stable Britain, we will be returning to the cherished Victorian values of Empire to which we all, I am sure, aspire. After me now: And did those feet……