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Is wine consumption in Scotland really on the rise?


By Richard at Great Grog

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Wine production in Europe has been allowed to continue during lockdown – perhaps to avoid a revolution!
Wine production in Europe has been allowed to continue during lockdown – perhaps to avoid a revolution!

The current situation in Scotland is rather painful; however, people who drink wine at home seem to be seeking solace in more wine.

No huge surprise there, one would think. At least this is what the headlines have been telling us recently. We are all drinking at home about 30 per cent more than "Before Crisis" (BC). This may indeed be true but it is very hard to measure.

I wonder whether there is some software attached to Google camera vans that measures the size of bottle banks and it is showing a massive state of overflow. A simpler explanation could be councils ceasing bottle bank uplifts.

Could they get the figures by asking the supermarkets for their wine sales? This would surely give an accurate figure.

A problem with this data is the "toilet roll" bias. We might well be stockpiling wine at such an enormous rate because wine might be discovered as a cure for Covid. This would account for supermarket shelves being stripped of wine at the start of April. It doesn’t necessarily mean it has all been drunk yet. Just like a few households have one or two toilet rolls stashed away...

The current situation in the general world of wholesaling to restaurants and the trade is nothing short of disastrous. This definitively applies to wine too. My business was 70% per cent to trade customers and 30 per cent to "retail" mail-order/internet sales.

This has gone to zero per cent to trade and 100 per cent retail overnight. We are now servicing a veritable army of customers who can’t leave the house but still want decent wine left on their doorstep via a safe, contact-less delivery.

My pint, sorry, point being, are these people drinking more or are they just drinking differently?

I think there is a bit of both but knowing the drinks business and wine trade pretty well, I can’t believe that statistics on consumption can be readily measured instantly. For example, some extremely strong-willed folk cellar wine for years for emergencies such as this one.

One small grain of good news as far as I was concerned was that the French, Italians and Spanish counted wineries as food production facilities. I think this was probably a cultural thing to prevent revolution. This meant that they could stay open and wine supplies to us are also continuing unabated, albeit slightly slower than normal. The only country that ceased wine export was South Africa but I believe that is recommencing in May too.

I think the concept of classifying wine as food is the reason we really should have stayed in Europe.

  • Richard Meadows worked with a national wine chain for 10 years before setting up his own company in Edinburgh in 1999. Richard, a regular visitor to the Highlands, now employs 15 people and sells all over the UK via mail order and the internet as Great Grog.

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