It would be easy to dismiss this measure as something of a damp squib that didn’t add up to much, and nobody could be blamed for reacting that way. But instead it seems to have provoked paroxysms of rage amongst many who are still struggling to come to terms with the result of a democratic vote seven and a half years ago.
Nobody is going to be compelled to use these measures, despite the linked report saying “Pint-sized bottles of still and sparkling wine are to appear on shelves in the UK”, and all of the previous metric measures will be allowed. So it’s really hard to see what all the fuss is about.
Considering that most wine sold in Britain is imported, and the 750ml bottle is an international standard, it’s unlikely that most buyers will notice any change. However, there is a history of champagne being sold in pint bottles and, given that the UK is the largest consumer of it outside France, it’s possible that some suppliers might decide it is worth offering the smaller option.
While 750ml bottles are the accepted norm for wine, it has to be said that for many consumption occasions they’re inconveniently big, and the possibility of having smaller bottles in various sizes will give drinkers more flexibility. I wonder how much wine from 750ml bottles ends up either being poured down the sink or reluctantly glugged down on the basis of “I suppose I’d better drink this, then.”
It should also be noted that this is only a very modest extension of permitted sizes and stops well short of complete deregulation. Yet there are no restrictions at all on beer bottle and can sizes, which can come in a vast and sometimes confusing range of quantities, although they generally seem to settle down around particular norms. Nobody seems to raise much objection to that, though.
Further aneurysms were provoked by the news yesterday that Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin was to receive a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List. Inevitably this news stuck in many people’s craws due to his vocal support for Brexit. This tweet, from a former editor of the Sun, unbelievably, really sums up the élite-level sneering:
However, regardless of his political views, he has created an extremely successful and popular pub business from scratch, often by going against conventional wisdom. He has taken an iconoclastic approach to how pubs should be run, and attracted many customers who never went to pubs before.
Brexit was always pub politics… and so… arise Sir Wetherspoon… dealer to so many desperate active alcoholics… open not long after dawn… convener of despair… no matter how unwittingly… hoorah!… triple pints of wine all round… pic.twitter.com/641YcvsjLM— David Yelland (@davidyelland) December 28, 2023
If he had held more mainstream establishment opinions it’s highly likely that he would have been knighted much sooner, but of course if he had simply followed the herd he probably wouldn’t have made such a success of his pub empire in the first place.
Please keep all comments well-mannered and relevant. Any generalised ant-Brexit tirades will be rejected.