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Grand Crus booze cruise

The ‘booze cruise’ has long been characterised by customers crossing the Channel to Calais to fill their boots with cheap cases of wines and beer. But since Brexit, Jérôme Pont from Calais Vins has seen a rise in customers taking advantage of the refund on VAT on Grand Crus: “We noticed lately that a number of British people have specifically shopped here to make greater savings on Grand Cru wines. Indeed, the refund on VAT is still 15% whether you buy a bottle of wine at €100 or at €5.”

And since the UK Government announced an increase in tax on wines, beers and spirits from August 2023, buying alcohol in France, on your journey back to the UK, will soon offer better value than ever before. As long as you respect the allowances of course (see below for details).

The Booze cruise is now a Premier Cruise

Travellers to France will make more savings when stocking up on Grand Cru bottles and a curated selection of spirits than on cheap booze. With the VAT refund, you can save 15 % on wine, spirits and beers.

The best savings are to be made on the Grand Cru wines say Calais Vins. When you buy high quality vintage wines, the tax savings can be significant. Calais Vins’ Jérôme Pont says “Recently we had a customer from the UK who had in mind very specific bottles, and he knew he could find Château La Fleur Petrus and Chateau Trotanay Pomerol in our store. Like many of our visitors (check out our five-star TripAdvisor reviews) he was absolutely delighted to take advantage of our inhouse tasting bar with our expert sommeliers, and then chose 12 bottles. His final selection was €1,000 of fine wines. And the icing on the cake for him was to find out he’d made an unexpected €150 saving by reclaiming the tax back.”

In fact there are hundreds of 5-star review on TripAdvisor. As John F writes “Ask at the tills, and someone will appear to give excellent advice.” And this happy customer who writes of his third visit: “When Calais Vins recommend a wine, you know it will be good.”

Great value wines to world famous Premier Crus

For those who seek Grand Crus, the elite and most exceptional wines, for example a bottle priced at a hundred euros, and with an allowance of 24 bottles of wine per person, the tax savings on these wines is €360. Calais Vins’ sommelier is there to advise on what’s best for your budget and your aims – to share a fabulous glass of wine now, a celebration gift such as a very special magnum of pink Champagne Armand de Brignac, or a wine to lay down and keep for the right time or to invest for instance in a Château Mouton Rothschild 2005.

With wines ranging from €5 upwards, there really is something to suit everyone and every budget. Calais Vins (near Calais Port, junction 44 off the A16 auto route) and its twin store Olivier Vins & Cie in Frethun (near the Eurostar terminal, junction 40 off the A16 auto route) are renowned for their curated selection of wines from all over France as well as Champagne and spirits.

Whiskies, spirits and beers

But it’s not just wine that you’ll get at a great price, they also have excellent whiskies and spirits from around the world – again a huge choice at a range of prices. For instance, Talisker Whisky 30 Years Limited edition for those who want a truly outstanding whisky, is available in store.

You can also buy Perfect Draft Kegs at a much cheaper price than in the UK.

Calais Vins helps you claim your tax back

Calais Vins will fill in the form you need to claim VAT Back. A staff member will guide you through the tax reclaim process and they will instantly produce the proper form you need for customs. It’s a really helpful service. They recommend two systems to reclaim your tax:

With Global Blue, collect your Tax-Free Form from the store. Scan the bar code on the form at the kiosks located at the PABLO terminal in the ferry port. Located in the main building after the customs. Or in the passenger building for Eurotunnel. www.globalblue.com

With Skiptax, download the free app and scan your passport. Shop and then scan your receipt. Scan the bar code generated by Skiptax at the departure terminal. Receive your refund within 48 hours. www.skiptax.com

UK Duty free allowances

 Since Brexit, the allowances for taking alcohol back to the UK are:

  •  beer – 42 litres
  • wine (not sparkling) – 18 litres (24 bottles)

You can also bring in either:

  • spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol – 4 litres
  • fortified wine (for example port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol – 9 litres

You can split this last allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits (both half of your allowance).

Shop online at Calais Vins, reserve and collect, or shop in store – find details of their stock here: wines-calais.co.uk

And Grand Crus here: Calais-vins.com/bouteilles-de-prestige

Book a day trip with P&O Ferries via Calais Vins special offer and get your fare back as vouchers to spend on board.

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