Trade wars: when booze gets banned

Break-ups are hard on the knees

The breakup of the Soviet Union was a protracted and painful affair and one might say given Russia’s recent actions in the region, one that has not yet run its course.

In 2006, two particular bones of contention were Moldova and Georgia, which were both leaning away from Russia and showing pro-NATO and EU inclinations.

Russia decided to flex its economic muscle cracking down on wines from both countries claiming they contained dangerous levels of heavy metals and pesticides and were dangerous to the health of anyone drinking them.

As Russia was the destination for 80-90% of the wines exported from both countries there’s no doubt political motives were at play, although the Georgian government did subsequently shut down seven ‘wineries’ that were found to be producing alcoholic products falsely labelled as ‘wine’.

The ban’s effect was to drive Georgia in particular closer to the West and contributed to rising tensions between the two countries, which led to war in 2008.

A happier outcome is perhaps the greater focus on quality and subsequent attention Georgian wine has received in Europe.

Although Russia lifted its ban on Georgian wines in 2013, they are not nearly as dominant there as they used to be.

The ban on Moldovan wines was lifted in 2007 and then slapped on again in 2013 during a fresh wave of economic posturing and began to be eased once again in 2017.

Meanwhile, Russia also placed a ban on Montenegrin wines in 2017 after the little Balkan country prepared to join NATO. “Sanitary failings” were once again used as the apparent excuse for the ban.

Russia has also previously banned spirits including Sazerac, Jack Daniels and various Ukrainian drinks.

One Response to “Trade wars: when booze gets banned”

  1. Bourbon saw a growth spurt in the Revolutionary War at the cost of rum.
    Cause: The British blockaded the routes to and fro the Caribbean, so molasses
    and rum could not get to Boston etc.
    Before the war, rum was the favorite tipple of the Americans when it came to liquor.

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