Well, I suppose it was bound to happen, although (if you believed some predictions badied about beforehand) it might have been worse. Nevertheless, today's rise in excise duty announced by our dear Chancellor, Mr Darling, means that the duty on a bottle of table wine is now perilously close to £2 (including the VAT element). I guess I have a vested interest, so I feel somewhat duty-bound (if you'll excuse the pun) to have a whinge about it, but these constant hikes in duty really do rile me. And I know for a fact that they rile most responsible wine drinkers.
I'm not sure that the small, though increasing, number of neo-prohibitionists in the corridors of power are that influential - yet. But their cause certainly gives the Government a fancy excuse for indiscriminately targeting all drinkers in their "fight" against the binge drinking culture. Whether or not they really are that bothered about getting to the root of that little problem is highly debatable (we all know it goes much deeper than the mere cost of alcohol). Somehow, though, I doubt it. Like petrol and cigarettes, the taxes on alcohol provide untold billions of Pounds in revenue and - not just in the current economic climate, but always - provides the Treasury with an easy win. I doubt that this latest increase will have the slightest effect on alcohol consumption in the UK. The streets of our towns and cities will still be thronging with binge drinkers, falling out of the pubs and clubs at the weekends (actually, make that most nights) but the Government won't mind, because it means even more money in the Treasury's coffers. And the fact that - for the majority of people who drink moderately and responsibly - it will make buying a bottle of wine to enjoy quietly at home with their evening meal ever more expensive means nothing to them because, when it comes to raising taxes, we are all fair game.
Anyway, rant over. Tomorrow, I'll get back to talking about some wines I have (very responsibly) enjoyed recently!