Last month the Government announced plans to establish ‘pint’ sized bottles of still and sparkling wine with a new 568ml measurement set to be introduced across the on and off trade in a bid to ensure regulations were “up to date and agile”.
The plans were unveiled by the Department for Business and Trade, which said the optional reform was made possible thanks to “new freedoms from leaving the European Union” under the Retained EU Law Act 2023.
However, owner of the Red Lion and Sun in Highgate, London, Heath Ball, questioned the purpose of the announcement as most of the wine consumed in the on-trade was served in 125ml, 175ml, 250ml or carafe format.
“While we grapple with the realities of the largest duty increase in half a century, the focus has somehow shifted to the introduction of pint-sized bottles of wine.
“Instead of engaging in meaningful discussions about the challenges we face, we find ourselves debating the merits of pint-sized wine bottles.
“Let's not allow ourselves to be sidetracked by such trivialities and instead focus on the real issues that demand our attention”, he said.
In addition, Ball claimed the move was a “desperate attempt” for the Government to show “tangible” benefits of Brexit.
Similarly, licensee of the Onslow Arms in Loxwood, West Sussex, Rob Barr felt the transition was “novel” and “would not last”.
Furthermore, while the Government explained some 900 vineyards across Britain would benefit from the decision, the changes pose potentially “enormous costs” according to chef and owner of the Parkers Arms in Lancashire, Stosie Madi.
She said: “What a pointless thing, all bottling plants are set for 70cl etc, at what enormous cost at this challenging time will it be to reset bottling machines.”
Counteractively, Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Kevin Hollinrake claimed the announcement was about offering producers and consumers “innovation, freedom and choice”.
Failure on all fronts
“Our exit from the EU was all about moments just like this, where we can seize new opportunities and provide a real boost to our great British wineries and further growing the economy”, he continued.
However, owner of the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Suffolk, Brendan Padfield, described the move as “another example of a tired Government scraping the barrel to try evince some benefit to Brexit”.
The Top 50 Gastropub operator said: “Our country is teetering on recession and scrambling desperately for much needed economic growth, yet the Government is fiddling around the edges with such de minimis nonsense. Brexit has been an abject failure on all fronts.
“We moved from imperial to decimal measurements some considerable time ago for good reason.
“If I were a wine producer, I can’t think why I would invest capital into manufacturing or using pint bottles etc. when most of the rest of the world uses metric.”