Written by Tom Innes
Christmas this year is going to be more expensive. That’s why Tesco and Unilever had an argument recently about Marmite. The pound has plummeted in value compared to other currencies – notably the euro and the US dollar. And most wines imported into this country are priced in dollars or euros.
Much of our food and drink, and, of course, nearly all the wines we buy, are imported. Nobody wants to put prices up, least of all shopkeepers, including supermarkets, who are at the sharp end of the economic food chain – there is no easier way to lose customers.
So how do we shopkeepers deal with it? If you’re a supermarket, you go to war with your suppliers, and, if you’re Tesco, you have a go at one of your biggest suppliers, Unilever – most particularly because the present chief executive of Tesco used to work for Unilever, and knows his way round the business that he is locked in battle with.
If you’re a small wine merchant like Fingal-Rock, you have a large amount of stock, not stored at the shop – it’s in a warehouse dedicated to the storage of wines in the Midlands. Accountants will tell you that this is a crazy way to run a business – you should keep hardly any stock (which is what the supermarkets do) – but in the present circumstances, I have already paid for the stock at historic exchange rates, so that I can hold prices for many of the wines that I am currently offering – if you follow prices in my shop, you will see that I tend to raise my prices after everybody else has done so. It also means that I can sell wines that have had time to mature and settle, resulting in happier drinking.
Since we’re on the subject of Marmite, here is a recommendation, bearing in mind Christmas is approaching, for a Marmite wine – either you love it or you don’t, there is no middle ground – but it is definitely festive: it is a sparkling rosé from the Beaujolais region, made from Gamay, the Beaujolais grape, and is slightly sweet. Doesn’t sound enticing, does it? But, after drinking it all weekend at a wedding in France last year, I’m now addicted. The name of the wine is “Irresistible”, which it is.
And finally, don’t forget Beaujolais Nouveau – Thursday, 17th November is the date. Come and taste the new wine at our shop, Fingal-Rock, in Monnow Street.