Pint-sized bottles of wine set to hit UK shelves in September - but doubts raised over demand

Drinking wine
Drinking wine -Credit:PA

Pint-sized bottles of wine are set to hit UK shelves from September, as announced by a business minister, despite scepticism about consumer demand.

Kevin Hollinrake has confirmed that seven changes to pre-packaged wine sizes will take effect on September 19, claiming they will bolster the "thriving" UK wine industry by allowing for "innovation and greater choice".

However, SNP's Patrick Grady questioned the Government's optimism, suggesting there is "little to no demand or interest for this supposedly glorious Brexit benefit".

The Glasgow North MP went on to urge the Government to "admit that its Brexit dream of people quaffing pints of wine" was always a "fantasy", adding: "In fact the reality is a Brexit nightmare of border checks, of reduced consumer choice and of business closures."

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch replied: "I can't imagine why anyone would be complaining about the sale of pints of wine. If he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to buy it."

In December, the Government announced the move to introduce the 568ml size would sit alongside 200ml and 500ml measures already available. Pint bottles of Champagne were sold in the UK before Britain joined the European Common Market and were on shelves until 1973. But their production ceased as they did not comply with EU weights and measures rules.

Mr Hollinrake told the Commons: "The 568ml pint quantity is one of seven changes in pre-packed wine sizes that are expected to come into force on September 19 2024, supporting the thriving UK wine sector by providing opportunities for innovation and greater choice."

Mr Grady said Mr Hollinrake's answer was "nowhere near as definitive" as the Government press release from December, which was headlined: "Pints of wine stocked on Britain's shelves for the first time ever."

Mr Grady said: "Not will be stocked, not might be stocked, not could be stocked, not to be stocked – it implied that pints of wine were and are available to buy right now in shops across the UK. Will the Government admit that the reality is there's been little to no demand or interest for this supposedly glorious Brexit benefit and in fact it's entirely possible pints of wine will never be stocked on UK shelves?"

Mr Hollinrake replied: "Well it's never difficult to distinguish the right honourable gentleman from a ray of sunshine, is it?"

"Our wine industry is thriving. Over 900 vineyards across Great Britain, the UK wine industry produced 12.2 million bottles of wine in 2022 and our new post-Brexit powers provide new options, including new legislation which aligns existing sizes across still and sparkling pre-packed wine so that both can be sold in 200ml and 500ml quantities, which we know there is good demand for."