Zinfandel Rosé could disappear from shelves as wine caught up in US-UK trade war

·2-min read
A woman reaches for a bottle of wine in a supermarket. Photo: Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty
A woman reaches for a bottle of wine in a supermarket. Photo: Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty

Zinfandel Rosé and Grenache Rosé are among the grapes at risk of disappearing from UK supermarket wine stocks, as the government gears up for a potential 25% tariff on all wine imports from the US. 

Trade and hospitality group Wine Drinkers UK has warned that millions of bottles could disappear, as one in 10 bottles sold in the UK market is from the US. It says 100 million bottles of US-sourced wine were sold in supermarkets and off licences last year. 

The tariff in contention is being considered by trade secretary Liz Truss as part of an ongoing conflict caused by the Trump administration imposing a 25% levy on steel imports in 2018. Trump cited national security concerns, prompting retaliatory measures from the EU on goods such as whiskey, motorcycles and tobacco. 

The UK government believes tariffs on wine will put pressure on key Democratic politicians, such as vice-president Kamala Harris and speaker Nancy Pelosi, who have wine producers in their states.

It could also have a knock on effect on chocolate and lobsters imported from the US.

A number of tariffs have been under review since the UK's exit from the EU — there is currently a list of products that help protect UK-specific interests. The consultation closed on 5 July and responses are under review. 

Wine tariffs could, however, wreak havoc in the casual drinking market, with around 32% of UK households purchasing wine from the US. 

Read more: Boost for Scotch industry as US scraps tariffs for five years

A Department for International Trade spokesperson said: “We want to make it easier for people and businesses in the UK to access top-quality, international produce by removing barriers to trade.

“We are reviewing responses to our consultation on tariffs against the US, as part of the ongoing dispute around steel and aluminium tariffs. We want to draw a line under this dispute so we can move forward and find a permanent solution to this issue.

Wine Drinkers UK said that no other wine producing nation could substitute its volume, limiting consumer choice. The under 44s make up 40% of those that enjoy wines from the United States, meaning that a tariff would disproportionately impact younger UK wine consumers.

“Wine drinkers are already disproportionately disadvantaged compared to some of their alcoholic counterparts when it comes to custom tariffs," said Ed Baker, managing director of one of the UK’s largest bottling plants, Kingsland Drinks. 

"Adding a 25% tariff on US wines will continue to unfairly penalise these consumers. It is time that the Government ensures that wine is treated fairly when it comes to tax.””

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