Inefficient Russian bureaucrats are being blamed by international wine importers for a dearth of wine bottles in Russian restaurants and stores.
New import laws have prompted shopkeepers to snatch their bottles back off the shelves in a frantic bid to get an up-to-date excise stamp in time for the 1 July deadline imposed by Moscow.
Reports say that shoppers are faced with rows of empty shelves. According to UK broadsheet The Guardian, one off-licence in central Moscow contained only three bottles of Californian red wine and a bottle of Cognac.
The trouble began with the late delivery of the new stamps that should have been available in January.
‘The stamps only started coming out in late May, and in small numbers, which means that we are stuck with vast quantities of old stock that cannot be sold, as we do not have the new stamps,’ said Michel Perrot of the Bordeaux-based wine negociant Borie-Manoux.
But even with the stamps, the government only allows the importer to re-stamp the bottles. Russian restaurants, wine stores and other points of sale have had to send bottles back to warehouses.
‘Ridiculous,’ scoffed Dmitry Pinski of DP-Trade, a wine merchant in Moscow. In an internal memo sent to Borie-Manoux this week and obtained by decanter.com Pinski said, ‘the whole wine trade in the country is paralyzed.’
Written by Panos Kakaviatos