The Ministry of Finance said yesterday a total of 1.5 million bottles of Red Label rice cooking wine were distributed to markets on the first day the price of the wine halved, compared with 20,000 bottles per day before the price cut.
Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (TTLC, 台灣菸酒公司) yesterday began selling the new Red Label rice wine as “cooking wine” for NT$27, including a NT$2 bottle deposit, roughly half of the previous price of NT$50 when it was sold as a “distilled spirit.”
The ministry said the new Red Label rice cooking wine was available in more than 100 of TTLC’s retailers yesterday, adding that it would start hitting the shelves at convenience stores and supermarkets today.
The price cut came after the legislature passed an amendment to the Tobacco and Liquor Tax Act (菸酒稅法) last month that dramatically reduced the excise tax on rice wine by classifying it as a cooking ingredient instead of a distilled alcohol.
The price change triggered opposition from the US and the EU, which contended that it violated WTO rules because the global trade body does not accept the notion of different treatment for alcoholic products based on their ingredients.
In response, the ministry said that the government is still in talks with the members of the world body.