WSTA urges consumers to kickstart a fortified wine revival

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association has highlighted a dramatic fall in fortified wine sales in recent years and urged Brits to “save Santa’s sherry, keep passing the port and value vermouth”.

It said that UK sales had fallen from 61 million litres in 2015 to 26 million litres last year, equivalent to a drop of 50 million bottles in a decade.

Sherry volumes have more than halved in that time, port dropped 26% and vermouth was down by almost two thirds.

Last year port sales had begun to show signs of recovery and were up on 2014 and the WSTA hopes that with a bit of support from the UK public, all fortified wines can rediscover their glory days.

It said that rising duty was a factor in the slump with an increase in tax of 53% since 2007, adding £1 to the price of a bottle.

According to HMRC, in that time clearances of fortified wines have declined by 35%.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “These drinks have been enjoyed by the British for centuries. It would be incredibly sad to see the British traditions associated with these drinks, which have been passed down through the generations, disappear.

“We are urging people to support the WSTA campaign to save Santa’s sherry, keep passing the port and value vermouth, and go out this Christmas and rediscover our top quality fortified wines.” 

Andrew Hawes, managing director of Taylor’s port and La Gitana sherry supplier Mentzendorff, said: “The origins of port and other fortified wines, recalls our history as a great trading nation and it is important that government supports our industry to ensure the UK remains the key player in the international wine trade.

“It seems unjust that the British public and fortified wines are being penalised by an outdated and unfair duty regime and we very much support the WSTA’s campaign.”