If you’ve ever wondered why you can get wine so cheaply in France, yet you pay so much for it in Britain, you are not alone. Finding wine for a fiver here is much harder than it is across the Channel.
Last night, my partner and I shared a bottle we picked up in France a few weeks back. There, in Intermarché, we paid €3 for a 2011 bottle of Vieilles Vignes, a Côtes du Rhône from Vaucluse with an alcohol content of 13.5%.
It caught our eye for having won a silver medal in the Macon category at the Concours des Grands Vins de France 2012.
If €3 sounds like we’d been rummaging among the bargain bins, let me assure you it was far from the cheapest wine on sale in the supermarket that day.
At today’s exchange rate, €3 is equivalent to £2.47 in pounds sterling.
In the UK, assuming you could even buy a bottle of wine for £2.47, the tax man would take £2.00 in duty and 41p in VAT. That would leave, then, just 6p to cover the wine itself, the bottle, the label and the transportation.
And that’s all before you factor in the supermarket’s margin, which is usually around 35%.
It simply can’t be done.
In France, the duty is just 4 cents – or 3p in sterling. Now I understand why a €3 bottle of wine is possible there.