Just back from Europe where I was surrounded by the beauty of their delicious products – wine, vinegar, olive oil, cheese, jams, just to name a few. I relished these moments while realizing that many never come to the U.S. as it is. Now, potentially even the ones that do, may never again. Or, I soon might not be able to afford these wines and share them at the table with family and friends.
At the moment, a possible 100 percent tariff on European wines looms among us, as part of a large aircraft dispute. (You can educate yourselves about those elsewhere and digest the information as you will.) However, what I am talking about is personal to many people I know and love. It’s their (our) passion, our lives, our world. Sounds so dramatic, but it’s true.
And while these are still proposals, those who make their livelihood in the wine trade, the mood is already dire. Such a tariff on European wines and foods will have terrible consequences for us all and could represent significant hardship, affecting all tiers of the beverage supply chain, including winemakers, importers, distributors, retail owners, restaurants, bars, hospitality industry, transportation industry and consumers alike. The three largest producers of wine – Italy, France and Spain – also happen to be the three most beloved cuisines for American diners. Restaurants rely on these products.
It would also directly affect me, a wine writer, who intentionally pens experiences to introduce the general wine consumer to the beauty of wines from all over the world. But, who really cares about the wine writer? What’s important (besides the fact that a tariff of that size, or any number close to it, would be catastrophic for Americans in the beverage and hospitality industry) is that I’m also one of a larger group of people who simply loves wine. That’s you, too! And, that there is enough to want to do something about it.
Do you like cheese, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Emmenteler, Gouda? How about coffee, single malt Irish and Scotch Whiskies, oranges of all kinds, cherries, clams, butter, olives, juices and for non-food items … the lovely cashmere sweater, beautiful lithographs, books…? These, too, are all at risk.
There is no reason any consumer should lose access to these goods. I don’t want this to happen. I don’t want to see jobs jeopardized, to see businesses close, and to witness people losing their spark and passion for wine that has this astonishing way of bringing our world together. These proposed tariffs will have serious and unintended consequences to many of us.
The Office of the US Trade Representative is required to take comments on the proposed measure until January 13. So if you’re feeling particularly motivated, pour a glass of wine from say, Italy, and fire off your thoughts.