Why Two Pound Chuck is a nonstarter – in the Guardian

Two Buck Chuck, the celebrated wine that debuted at Trader Joe’s several years ago will never have a British equivalent, Two Pound Chuck. Why? Taxes.

The duty on a bottle of wine under 15 percent alcohol in the UK is £1.46. Throw in VAT at 17.5% and you can see why it is essentially impossible. Even wines under £4.99 have a distinct aroma of taxlicious since 40% of the price paid at the register ends up going to HM Treasury.

That’s one of the things I learned writing a short piece about wine politics for The Guardian & Observer guides to wine, which appeared on Saturday on news stands in the UK (a second part of the guide will follow shortly and I have another piece in that). Fortunately, since I can’t pop down to a WH Smith and pick up a copy, the full contents of the section are available on the Guardian web site. Be sure to check it out for more fascinating articles by Jancis Robinson, Steven Spurrier and others.

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7 Responses to “Why Two Pound Chuck is a nonstarter – in the Guardian”

  1. Congrats. Nice and tight. It sets a perspective (next to ours in Norway where our all-powerful off-license rules all.. But at least we can get The Guardian at a news stand. 😉

  2. I know taxes in British Columbia Canada is like 117% or something crazy, In Alberta its way less don’t know that % tho.

    Whats the avg american tax rate on liquor?

  3. This is crazy. I don’t even want to what that comes out to in dollars after the conversion.

    If I lived there, I’d probably learn how to be a good home wine maker.

    Great article.


  4. @Weston- you are right about the 117% tax in British Columbia. The UK would still be a better option because at least a portion of the tax is flat instead of percentage based. Meaning at the higher end you can get reasonable deals compared to a straight percentage tax.

    Given taxes and costs of packaging, it seems only possible for the most industrial of wines to be less than $10 anywhere.

  5. This brings back memories. I couldn’t believe the pricing when I saw it in Trader Joe’s that first time. What I don’t understand is why Alistair decided to tax based on alcohol percentage. Wasn’t it just a matter of the percentage of wines which usually hit under that mark in the UK?

  6. I am an American who has been living in London for 9 years now, and almost all of my experience as an educated wine consumer has been here. The article is spot-on. The rule of thumb is there is essentially little room for quality in any wine under GBP3.99. That said, at GBP6.99 you can find some very nice daily drinkers.

    But, as the UK is the largest import wine market in the world, we have great choice and competition in that range, so life is not all bad.

    I do sympathise with Tobias. I always marvel at all of the Norwegians arriving at Gardemoen airport from warmer climes hitting the duty-free shop on the way in before even collecting their luggage.

  7. […] one pound wine The British chain 99p Stores has announced a wine for 99p a bottle. Given the excise taxes on wine in the UK is now £1.69 and VAT is 17.5 20%, someone will have to explain to me how this is […]


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