For Serious Wine Lovers Happy Talk about Tariffs is Thin Gruel

stop wine tariffsThe news about the Trump “administration’s” 100% tariff hikes on EU wine is grim indeed and the impact on importers and retailers has been widely reported. After several paragraphs justly lamenting the devastating affects of these tariffs, Wine Searcher’s Kathleen Willcox rightly points out that some people will benefit from these tariffs.

The American wine industry has never done much business in Europe because the EU taxes American wine more highly than American’s tax European wine.

“The wine industry in the EU gets substantial government support,” says Rob McMillan, EVP and founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division. “Imported wines have grown from 12 percent of US sales in the early 2000s to close to 35 percent today.”

McMillan says that the US’s “relatively open market” has forced people to examine unjust trade policies more closely.

So some American exporters might benefit in the long run if the EU ends up backing down.

And on U.S shelves, U.S wines will be relative bargains compared to EU wines once the tariffs take hold so U.S. wineries might benefit.

Non-EU countries who export to the U.S. such as Chile, Argentina, and Australia are probably salivating at the prospect of increased market share.

Every policy has winners and losers—some producers will come out ahead.

But, notice, none of the beneficiaries are consumers. We get fewer choices, higher prices, and draconian restrictions on our access to some of the best wines in the world. Nothing will kill the wine industry more quickly than less variation and more homogeneity.

Casual wine consumers probably won’t care. Swill is swill regardless of origin. But for wine lovers its hard to see any upside even when looking through rosé-colored glasses.

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