Other than the tobacco industry, it is hard to think of another major part of the UK’s economy where the government would actively support a campaign to reduce its contribution to the exchequer. And yet every January they sponsor the “Dry January” campaign. Last January the UK’s drinks industry as a whole lost 10%.
It is promoted as a health campaign encouraging people to abstain completely for a month after their assumed festive binge drinking. Binge drinking is never to be recommended but the health lobby assumes all drinking is problem drinking. If you have that sort of serious drink problem giving up suddenly and completely can be fatal!
In the same way that the tobacco legislation does not differentiate between smoking 40 cheap fags a day and enjoying the occasional £20 Havana cigar, the anti-drinking campaign does not distinguish between necking cheap plonk in excess and savouring a good, real wine. There are arguably health benefits from sensible drinking. The irony is that problem drinkers will not be influenced by the campaign but sensible drinkers might.
As with most things, education is the key. Many people do not recognise the difference between industrial wine and wine made with love by small producers. Equally they may not appreciate the difference between big brand, high volume, low cost spirits and craft distilled gin made with fresh botanicals or for that matter mass-produced lager and craft beer made by small local brewers.
The difference is the same as that between turkey shapes made from re-formed mechanically recovered meat and a fresh free-range turkey.
We are an independent wine merchant so of course we don’t support Dry January. It may be a time to re-assess your drinking habits though. If you stick a few bottles of the cheapest wines in your supermarket trolley you are probably not enjoying wine.
If you baulk at spending over £10 on a bottle of wine, stop and consider the value for money. In any pub or restaurant people are happy to spend up to £5 on a glass of very ordinary wine which has probably been open for a week. Supermarket shoppers are happy to pick up a couple of bottles of very dull, unenjoyable plonk and fork out £10 – 16.
Once you spend £10 or over on a single bottle from a good specialist you are getting something quite special and memorable for your money, it will reduce your consumption and much more importantly start you on the road to appreciating and respecting something special.
So why not go for quality over quantity?
Drink less, spend less, drink better.
This year, support “Try January” and try something new.