Santa's sherry

Fortified wine sales have halved over the past decade, prompting the Wine and Spirit Trade Association to call for Brits to ‘Save Santa’s Sherry’ and ‘Keep Passing the Port’ this Christmas.

Sales of fortified wines plummeted from over 61 million litres in 2005, the equivalent of just over 82 million bottles, to only 26 million litres, or around 35 million bottles, in 2015, the WSTA said.

Vermouth has plunged the most, from 12 million litres in 2005 to four million last year, while sherry sales fell from 16 million litres in 2005 to just seven million last year, and sales of port have fallen 26% from eight million litres to five million litres.

The slump in sales could be attributed to the 53% rise in fortified wine duty since 2007, which has added £1 to the cost of a bottle of port or sherry, the WSTA claimed.

Fortified wine drinkers in the UK pay £2.78 in duty and a further £1.08 in VAT, “meaning that 59% of the average cost of a bottle in shops and supermarkets is taken up in duty and VAT” it added.

“Whether it’s the sherry shared as an aperitif or left out for Santa, a port to accompany the cheese course at the end of Christmas lunch, or vermouth shaken or stirred in a classic martini, these drinks have been enjoyed by the British for centuries,” said WSTA CEO Miles Beale.

“It would be incredibly sad to see the British traditions associated with these drinks, which have been passed down through the generations, disappear. We are urging people to support the WSTA campaign to ‘save Santa’s sherry, keep passing the port and value vermouth’, and to go out this Christmas and rediscover our top quality fortified wines.”