Most of the sparkling wine sold in the UK hails from Italy, with around 117 million bottles of Italian sparkling sold in 2018, followed by France, which supplies nearly 29 million bottles – of which 24 million are champagne – and Spain with 23 million bottles. UK fizz now comes fourth in the ranking, with its sales higher than those of Australian, American and German bubbles combined.
Sales are set to increase further thanks to the fruitful 2018 vintage. These wines will start to be released within the next two to three years.
‘Everyone should take the opportunity to toast our talented English winemakers with a glass of home-grown fizz on St George’s Day,’ said Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. ‘A bit like St George, against all the odds, the UK wine trade has come out fighting and proved it can compete with the best of the best at a global level.’
Despite the encouraging numbers, the WSTA claims that the British sparkling wine category has been badly hit by high duty rates and Brexit-related uncertainties and therefore urging the government to show support for such a significantly growing industry.
In Britain, each bottle of sparkling wine is taxed at £2.86 plus VAT, a third higher than the £2.23 duty plus VAT that Brits pay for each bottle of still wine. The WSTA highlighted that UK duties are significantly higher than those of France, where sparkling wine is taxed at 7p a bottle and still wine at a mere 3p.
‘The government needs to do more to support this emerging British success story,’ commented Beale, ‘and the Chancellor can and should start bringing down his excessively high duty rates after he unfairly singled out wine for a duty rise in his last Budget.’