Alcohol advertising, shrink wrapping, Chancellor Merkel

It was released too late for last week’s TKR, but it was interesting to see the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) make a statement on alcohol advertising. The WFA drew attention to research into whether decisions made by the complaints panel of the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) Scheme in the past three years were in line with community standards.

There were drawbacks to the research (from a wine point of view), as none of the 12 adverts analysed were for Australian wine; the nearest was for Mumm Champagne. The research found the ABAC panel was more conservative than the average person. The panel had:

• Correctly dismissed complaints against two ads that were deemed acceptable by the community (Bundaberg Rum and Lion Brands)

• Correctly upheld complaints against three ads that were deemed unacceptable by the community (Stockade Brew Co, Little Fat Lamb and Mumm Champagne)

• Conservatively upheld complaints against four ads that were deemed acceptable by the community (VB Blues, Hahn, Jack Daniels and XXXX)

• Dismissed complaints against two ads that were deemed unacceptable by the community (Johnny Walker and Cherry Popper)

• Dismissed a complaint against a Rydges Instagram post on which community opinion was split

Why no Australian wine ads? Few wine companies can afford full-on advertising campaigns. It also appears having a good time with wine is more sedate than having a good time with beer or spirits. The wine industry has a tendency to favour heritage, food and relaxation, with a big dose of moderation, so there’s little danger of offending.

The WFA probably feels the need to back its beer and spirit partners in the fight against the tide of accusations that the anti-alcohol brigade sends their way, but it should remember that beer and spirits are willing to sacrifice wine in any deal that gives them an advantage regarding taxation. In plain language: increase the tax on wine but leave beer and spirits alone.

The WFA also sent out a release on the joys to be found in Australia opening Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with Peru. More on this in the Australian Wine News section.

Last week’s short article on the Penfolds Max range being released in red shrink-wrap in the US resulted in some correspondence, including this from a consumer in Victoria:

“I cannot believe anyone would shrink-wrap a bottle of wine. A bottle is a perfectly good recyclable container. The world has far too much plastic already without introducing any new totally unnecessary packaging. Until I hear this crazy idea has been abandoned I will not buy Penfolds of any description. Maybe TKR can enlighten me and others as to what other brands to boycott so as to send a strong message to anyone thinking shrink-wrapping wine is a good idea … please rethink this craziness.”

Another reader reminded me of the time I received two bottles of Fox Creek wine, each encased in a fish-net red stocking. I remember a female wine writer at the time saying they livened up the weekend in her house. I wore them a couple of times at dress-up parties. Make of that what you will, but they were fun times.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe can no longer rely on its British and American allies in the wake of Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump. Should the Australian wine industry or UK merchant trade have any concerns for business?

Probably not in the short term, but this could have repercussions down the track. A smaller, tighter Europe looking after its own interests and not trusting those outside its borders would have to affect trade.

The same can be said of the US if it battens down the hatches. Both Europe and the US could be self-sufficient in wine and not need any Australian imports. Of course, Chancellor Merkel’s speech was based on far greater issues than wine, but one has to consider knock-on effects. Regrettably, it looks as if the world is coming closer to George Orwell’s three fictional global regions – Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia – though I see more than three, and still find it hard to see where Australia fits, both from a political and a wine trading perspective.

But these are thoughts for the future. Meanwhile, Australian wines have once again done well in the International Wine Challenge over in the UK. Neil McGuigan is touting malbec as the next biggie from Australia.

I’ve gone heavy on the reviews section this week. The wines are those retailing at less than $20 but the real interest is in the value of wine; go have a look.

Finally, I feel a bit uncomfortable bringing this to your attention, but friends and colleagues tell me I must, so here goes. Langton’s has released details of the fundraising auction that it is very generously holding to help me out when my health goes all pear-shaped. The details are here. Again, deepest thanks to all involved.


Drink well and wisely.

Good karma.


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