Sir Ian Botham passed into folklore in 1981 by smashing 149 runs off just 148 balls to inspire England to the most sensational comeback victory ever witnessed. They were priced at 500/1 to win the second Ashes Test against Australia after a first innings meltdown left them trailing by 227 runs. But Beefy stepped up and turned the match on its head with his unbeaten innings, sparking scenes of unprecedented revelry across the nation. Brokers stopped trading in the Stock Exchange so that the City could watch the spellbinding events unfold 240 miles north at Headingley, and a legend was born as England went on to win the series 3-1.
Imagine you could buy the Mona Lisa for half price. Not the real thing, but a fake that could even fool the experts. Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece would still be beyond most of our pockets. Now translate the idea across to wine. Say you could forge some of the world’s best wines, market them under your own label, avoid legal censure and knock them out to punters at a price they could afford. Why wouldn’t you?
Surely it’s not just me who every so often looks round at the world of wine and wonders what on earth we are all going on about? It’s a feeling as blasphemous as a vicar questioning the whole resurrection thing, or Riedel suddenly wondering whether glassware actually makes the slightest difference to how wine is perceived.
If I had said a few years ago that flavoured gin would be bigger than flavoured vodka and be the spirit which contributes the largest growth to the alcohol market, would you have believed me?
As minimum unit pricing in Scotland beds in, anti-alcohol campaigners are beginning to hedge their bets. Already we’re hearing “it’s not a magic bullet”, “other measures will be needed” – including the restoration of the hated alcohol duty escalator and “alcohol-only” aisles in off-sales premises. The stated intention of campaigners supporting MUP is to stop the sale of cheap strong alcohol at “pocket money prices” and thereby protect “vulnerable drinkers” – a coy term for alcoholics. But what about the unintended consequences?
Now that schools have broken up until early September, many wine merchants will have spent the month queuing up other projects – preparing for the autumn, trying not to buy any stock that isn’t lager or rosé, or maybe even taking a bit of time off.
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