ALE Winter/Spring 2005 No. 316 : Next section

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The Brown Stuff: Wine at the Bar

At the start of this New Year it is with some regret that I have to tell you, fellow imbibers, that after five years at the helm, Steve Linley, the editor of this newsletter, has finally come to his senses and hung up his pen. In that time he has been responsible for the high quality of what must be considered the best written and most informative of all regional CAMRA publications nationwide. Whilst he may not be editing ALE any longer I'm sure there will be the occasional contribution from him and he will be putting his shoulder to the wheel at the Cambridge Beer festivals. Thanks for everything Steve.

Mr Brown's first moan of the year does not really concern beer, but as part of the drinks industry I am concerned about the quality of some of the wine served in our pubs around the area. It is only in the last 20 years that wine drinking in Britain has become part of our way of life. In the dark days just before CAMRA was formed to save God's own beverage, wine served in pubs was, at best, dreadful.

All these years later real ale has flourished, as has the growth in wine sales, but the quality of the wine served in our pubs has hardly improved. I know many fine pubs with a magnificent reputation for well-kept real ales and for constantly changing their guest beers with great imagination and regard for the thirsty punter. Unfortunately there are many publicans who would rather buy wine as cheaply as possible regardless of the quality. I consider this as spoiling the ship for a hape'th of tar. I have even offered my services free of charge to help improve this situation but many a publican is blinkered to this particular problem.

Wine by the glass is the main problem.

I can understand that if the wine sales in a pub are low, it does not justify opening a bottle to have it going off before it has been consumed. However, in these instances there are many companies that sell wine in mini-bottles; the standard is generally fairly good and it is possible to order in small quantities and have a good range of styles.

I am not happy with wine on tap which comes in bags either. The quality is often not up to standard and again, if the sales are low, the end of the bag is often awful - but publicans are reluctant to change the bag because they are not sure how much they are throwing away.

I urge you, dear publican, especially if your wine sales are buoyant, to look at the quality and range of your wines - you may be missing out on a very important part of the drinks market. Also, consider the position of a former Mrs Brown who was happy to visit a pub where the beer was good but was even more enthusiastic if the wine quality was good!

Jerry Brown

ALE Winter/Spring 2005 No. 316 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA