How to choose a good supermarket wine from such an enormous selection? Supermarkets can be one of the easiest places to pick up a bottle or two of wine. You’re going round with your trolley anyway and it looks like the prices are good, so why not add a few bottles to your shop. However, it can be daunting. You don’t want to end up with a bottle of undrinkable wine and a terrible headache the next day. So what can you do to make sure you’re choosing a good wine from such the huge selection. Here are a few tips to help you make your pick.
You Get What You Pay For
Lots of us go into the supermarket wine aisles looking for a bargain. I definitely do. I know I will probably end up spending less than if I go to an independent wine merchant. Supermarkets often buy in bulk bottling the wine themselves when it reaches the UK. However, maybe some wines are too cheap. Duty on a 750ml bottle of wine is currently £2.23. If you take that into account on a £7.50 bottle of wine and then add the cost of bottling, shipping and the retailer’s mark up the actual wine in the bottle is worth very little. Probably less than £1.50. Trade up to a £10 bottle and the costs are roughly the same but you get wine of almost twice the value. It’s worth considering this when you reach for the £6 bottle of Pinot Grigio.
UK duty is the more than that in mainland Europe. A cheap 3€ wine would cost about £8.99 in the UK.
Don’t Fall for Discounts
Supermarket shelves are always filled with special offers and these certainly always catch my eye. Considering what I’ve outlined above, it is worth questioning whether you are really getting a bargain. I think it’s great to go for a special offer if it is a wine you know and like, but try to avoid just going for the bargain on an unknown wine. It may that the retailer is just shifting something that isn’t selling or perhaps that the wine is really only worth the sale price. If you pay £5 for a bottle of wine on special offer you are really only getting about 50p worth of wine!
What about awards stickers?
Retailers sell greater volumes of wines with awards stickers. It’s seems like a great endorsement if a wine has been given an award and works as a brilliant marketing tool. Before you reach for bottle with a medal, just think about what the award actually is. Some awards like the Géneral Agricole Medals or International Wine Challenge are prestigious and mean that the wine has been tasted by a panel and judged to be good. Other stickers may just be marketing tools. Table like ‘Gold Medal Standard’ or ‘Grand Vin’ don’t really mean much. Double check.
Do some research
There is such an array of wines in most supermarkets that it’s quite daunting. Wines tend to be arranged by country/area rather than grape which can be confusing. It’s worth doing a little bit of research before you shop or even while you are shopping (see below). You get better value for money if you avoid big brand name wines. For example you will pay more for a village level Chablis than a Macon Villages. They are both made from the same grape, both are from Burgundy but the lesser known wine represents much better value.
Think about the style of wine and the grape you like rather than the brand name. Be sure to look beyond the middle of shelf often the lesser known wines might be sitting at the bottom. Most of the weekend papers have a wine section where they recommend good supermarket wines. This good is pretty good place to start if you want some tips.
Make Use of Your Smartphone
Using a wine app helps make supermarket wine shopping a little less hit and miss. They are really easy to use and will give you an excellent choice of consumer reviews of the wine you are thinking of buying. I love Vivino. Just take a photo of the label and Vivino will give you all the details you need about the wine you are considering. You can add your reviews to the app and it’s a good way to keep a record of wines you’ve enjoyed. Wine Searcher is also worth downloading. It provides reviews, marks out of 100 and lots of details about the wine.
Both apps have a ‘Discover’ function. Choose the type of the wine your looking for, add the grape or region and your price range and you will be given some good suggestions.
I’ve been really enjoying the Marks and Spencer Classics range which came out last year. It focuses on good quality examples of some of best loved wines and this year they have added 12 lesser known’ discovery’ wines to the range. All very affordable at between £7-£10.
Lidl has some fantastic inexpensive wines. Every they months put together a range of limited availability wines and wine expert Richard Bampfield works with them to rate each of the wines. If you want to find out more Love Wine are running online tastings of some his favourite selections from the range. The next is on 4 June.
If you are looking to spend a little more Waitrose has a great fine wine selection with wines from some smaller producers. You might end up spending a little more but it’s a good opportunity to explore.
Give Your Wine a Helping Hand
Our ever popular Vinturi Aerators have been out of stock since Christmas but they are finally back. Aerating makes a difference to any wine really bringing out the flavours. It is most noticeable on a cheaper bottle. You can aerate but the glass which is brilliant for mid week drinking. It is really worth elevating those supermarket buys. Why not give it a try?