Posts Tagged 'wine excise tax'

The gods must be crazy…or think I am

When we lived out that way, I used to wander through the supermarket in Tanglin Road and notice the E&E Black Pepper Sparkling Shiraz on the shelf at around S$95. A great wine but I was never tempted. I wandered through there today, and I see it’s jumped to S$122. If you’re down that way, have a look. It’s the 2003 vintage but there’s no rush, as I expect it’ll be there for a while, a long while.

You see, that wine, and yes that vintage, sells in Australia for A$50 (winestar, winehouse) which means my slide rule calculation says it should sell here for around S$62, not S$122. And here’s the rub. You could buy the wine retail in Australia, ship it up on an A380 at S$10 a bottle airfreight, pay the duty and VAT and still land it at S$85 a bottle. Hell, if you bought 2 dozen, you’d save S$888 so you could fly down with just hand luggage to pick it up as that’s exactly what it cost me to fly down to Melbourne and back last week! But wait, there’s more…..if it came back as accompanied baggage you’d get the Australian WET and GST back at about A$9.50 a bottle. A silly idea of course, but you get the drift.

Not one to be deterred, I wandered into their cool room and spied the (non-sparkling) 2003 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz, another terrific wine. At a terrific, or should I say terrifying, price. S$208. Gulp.

More research and I see it sells down-under for A$80, so a reasonable expectation would be around S$87 here. By the same process, you could buy it retail in Australia and ship it up airfreight and land it all up for around S$125. Hey, this looks even better – at a saving of S$83 a bottle, I might even be able to afford business class.


I’m speechless – a $100 difference in an $85 bottle of wine!

Surely that’s a misprint I hear you say. Apparently not.

The wine I’m talking of is the 2005 Elderton Command Barossa Valley Shiraz. Now, to put the record straight, I’m a BIG fan of this wine, so I’m usually on top of the pricing. I see that it’s available in Australia at A$80, which with my slide rule calculations suggest that a comparable price in Singapore might be around S$85. Without going into too much detail, I take the Australian retail price back to wholesale, take off the 29% wine excise tax and the 10% GST, convert it to S$, add back freight, Singapore duty and 7% vat, add back the mark up (i.e. double the cost so far) and there’s the start point for comparison. It’s not a perfect system but it’s usually not far out, and to prove my point, Wine Exchange in Singapore shows that they sold some Command at around S$87 in recent times. Not quite as attractive, but Vineyards Direct have regularly listed the 2005 Command at S$110.

So what’s the problem?

Well, I happened to be passing through Changi airport last night, and out the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of that familiar Elderton Command label in the duty free store, and 2005 to boot. Bet you can’t guess what it sells for duty free? Try S$168, (and showing a RRP of S$189). Huh?

I think the motto is “buy better with Bastard Box”

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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907