"What can I do? It's up to society to deal with alcohol abuse. It's not the responsibility of the wine industry..." That was the response (through social media) of many wine professionals to my post on the Alastair Campbell "Britain's hidden alcoholics" programme. I did my best to point out that saying "If people use my product irresponsibly, it's not my concern" is precisely the argument put forward by gun manufacturers: hundreds of millions of US gun owners do themselves and others no harm with their weapons. But that hasn't stopped governments in most of the rest of the world from effectively preventing gun manufacturers from selling their wares. If industries don't self-regulate, they tend to find others will do the job for them. Often in ways they find distasteful.
Which brings me to a campaign I've just kicked off to encourage a bit of self regulation in the UK and Australia - against the 250ml serving in bars and pubs. The idea of putting a third of a bottle of wine into a glass is a recent notion, with no tradition in the UK or elsewhere. When it's part of a round-buying culture, unlike the sale of bottles or carafes, it actually encourages excessive drinking . How many people drinking their big glass of red or white know that they're actually consuming 50% more alcohol than their beer-drinking companion? (Which is ironic when one considers that the beer drinker is more likely to be male and the wine drinker female).
This is most emphatically not a spoilsport, "wowser" (to use the Australian expression), anti-alcohol move. When I'm in a bar or pub, I usually buy a bottle or carafe and a few glasses and may well end up drinking much more than the two or three units my doctor would advise. But I'm not putting any pressure on anyone else to drink at my speed. Conversely I'm not pressured to drink at theirs.
So, I've set up a Facebook group called stop.supersizing.wine If you agree that there is nothing very civilised about selling wine by the bucket, please join it and, more usefully still, spread the word. My plan is to get a lot of names, including some influential ones, on board and shame the on trade into voluntarily dropping the glasses - before the government forces them to do so.