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Wine Spectator: Restaurants Brace For Potentially Devastating Wine Tariffs

January 10, 2020

Though the politics have nothing to do with dining, the U.S. government’s ongoing battle with the European Union over aircraft-industry subsidies has the restaurant industry on edge. The Trump administration’s October introduction of a 25% tariff on French, Spanish, and German wines, and its recent proposal to increase the tariffs to 100% and apply them to all European wines as well as key spirits categories like whisky and Cognac, are particularly threatening to restaurants, which often rely on carefully priced beverage programs as a crucial revenue stream.

“The idea of not being able to sell the product that we opened the business to sell, and the quality of the product we want to sell and the way we want to sell it and present it to people, is really scary,” said Justin Chearno, partner and wine director of the Four Horsemen wine bar and restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.

According to the wine directors interviewed for this story, the 25% tariff hasn’t triggered major price increases yet, as many importers and distributors opted to absorb the bulk of the tax during the holiday season or sell through existing inventory while awaiting a resolution. But with no reprieve in sight, most importers have told clients to expect prices to start rising this month. Wine Spectator has the full story.—Julie Harans

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