Here in Ireland we have some of the highest rates of alcohol excise duty in the EU, and while I’m sure my colleagues in the beer and spirits departments will have plenty of issue with the excise rates being 2.5 times the European average, it is wine that is the most disproportionally taxed.
At €3.19 per bottle, we are out on our own at the top of the table and pay more than 12% higher than the 2nd placed UK, in fact we pay over a staggering 550% more than the European average, and don’t forget that this duty along with all other components of the retail price is subject to VAT at 23%.
While we are on the subject of disproportionality, another inequity worth noting is that as the excise is applied as a flat charge rather than as a percentage rate, the effect on a wine’s price/quality ratio is most keenly felt at lower price points.
As you can see from the table above, if you were to buy a bottle of wine at €9, only 53c of this would have been spent on producing the wine, however if you were take home a €12 bottle (a 33% increase) the value of the wine in the bottle shoots up to €1.80 (a 340% increase!), it really does pay to trade up by even by just a couple of Euro.
I have chosen four wines below (all in and around the €12 mark) which I think perfectly illustrate the excellent quality that is available if you if you make the relatively short move from €9/€10.
For my first choice, I thought I should start with the nation’s favourite wine style; The Horologist is a textbook Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, dry yet intensely aromatic; think gooseberry, lime & passionfruit, with a zesty citrus hit to the finish. Of course, this wine is delicious on its own but if you pair it with a Thai Green Curry, you are in for a real treat.
Made exclusively with organically-grown fruit, Domaine Begude 'le Bel Ange' is an un-oaked Chardonnay which is cut with a dash of Chenin Blanc for extra zestiness and minerality. Crisp and fresh, with delicate flavours of pear and apple and with a long mineral finish, this wine works equally well as a stylish aperitif or as a fantastic partner to lighter
With fruit grown at high-altitude in the foothills of the Andes and a label inspired by the street artists or 'Porteños' of Buenos Aires, Porteño is a juicier, more approachable take on Malbec from leading producer Norton. Great with or without food, this works really well with meaty pasta dishes such as Tagliatelle al Ragù.
Made with grapes grown at Gérard Bertrand’s stunning Hospitalet estate in the Languedoc but using the traditional Southern-Rhône GSM blend, Cap Insula is very-much like a super-charged Côtes du Rhône! Jam-packed with ripe bramble fruit and left wonderfully smooth by eight month’s ageing in oak. To see this wine at its best, serve it alongside some char-grilled lamb cutlets.