Minimum pricing for alcohol is against common sense: Decanter

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  • Wednesday 3 February 2010

Introducing minimum pricing for alcohol is a fundamentally flawed concept, Decanter editor Guy Woodward argues in the latest issue of the magazine.

With the British government voicing support for the idea, anti-alcohol campaigners are scenting blood in their campaign for minimum pricing.

But ‘raising the price of wine does not wholly tackle the issue [of problem drinking].’

‘The real problem,’ Woodward writes in the March issue of Decanter, ‘lies with supermarkets who use wine as a loss-leader, slashing margins, bullying suppliers and dragging down prices in order to attract customers…Selling wine at a loss helps neither consumers nor the trade.’

This ‘fundamentally dishonest’ practice is outlawed in France, while the Conservative party supports a ban in the UK. And so does Decanter, Woodward says.

That is the way to stop supermarkets ‘conning the public’. Wine will be sold on its merits and consumers will make informed choices, ‘rather than seeing wine as just cheap alcohol.’

As final proof that the vast majority of wine drinkers are responsible and want to be treated as such, Woodward cites two Daily Mail articles that appeared just before Christmas.

The first, in the web edition of the newspaper, slammed Decanter as ‘irresponsible’ for recommending 15 wines to open on Christmas Day, from breakfast, through lunch and dinner, including one for the Queen’s speech.

But such was the response from readers complaining that the Mail was over-reacting, that in the print version the following day the paper's stance was reversed: we were now being lauded for providing 'help' for readers having trouble deciding what to drink with the Christmas pudding.

‘A victory at last for common sense,’ Woodward concludes. ‘An end to loss-leading wine sales would be another.’

Read the full Editor's Letter in the March issue of Decanter magazine - out now

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