Gulp! Government plans to put health warnings on wine bottles

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The wine world was in revolt last night, threatening to thwart government proposals to put health warnings on vintage bottles.

The Government is looking at ways of making the drinks industry label bottles and cans with details of the dangers of alcohol, in an effort to crack down on binge drinking.

Prized Château Mouton Rothschild would not escape the warning that drinking can seriously damage your health. But celebrity sommelier Matt Skinner dismissed the scheme as farcical. "It's ridiculous," he said. "Are they going to do the same thing with crisps or Coke? There are far worse offenders."

Mr Skinner, who works with Jamie Oliver in his Fifteen restaurants, said that drinking irresponsibly did damage health, but wondered whether the Government would also promote the health benefits of anti-oxidants found in red wine. He called for the Government to spend more on preventative alcohol misuse work in schools.

The wine writer and editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson, said a similar warning scheme had operated in America for nearly 20 years, with little success. "As with labels on cigarettes, people just get used to them after a month or so," she said.

Tony Havin, restaurant manager at Marco Pierre White's Mirabelle said: "It would be quite sacrilegious to do this to a fine bottle of wine because part of the pleasure is not just the drink in the bottle but the design of the label."

The Independent on Sunday's own Richard Ehrlich said it was just as possible to develop a drink problem with Dom Pérignon as it was from extra-strong lager. He added: "The Government has to get the wording right. I don't have much faith in its ability to do that."