Deal, or no deal? Depends where you shop
Given what’s happened to the pound recently, I suppose we should be less surprised that the cost of wine is going up than that quite so many bottles have somehow stayed the same price. Still, it does strike me that a significant number are considerably more expensive than they were a year or two ago, Chateau Musar being a case in point. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was paying £18 for it (actually, I can remember paying £11.99 back in the Safeway days). Now, it’s going for £27.99 at Waitrose or £24.99 if you buy six at Majestic.
Although there are still bargains to be had between £5 and £7 (hooray for Tesco’s £5 French Malbec
£8-£11 seems more the bracket that supermarkets are aiming for these days. Taxation eats up a fair amount of that, of course, as does the cost of everything associated with getting the wine on the shelf, including packaging, transport and the retailer’s margin. In a £9.99 bottle, you’re getting roughly £2.80’s worth of wine, according to winemaker Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc, who keeps an eagle eye on such things, compared with 70p’s worth in a £5.99 one.
Of the wines whose basic price seems barely to have moved, Morrisons still sells half-bottles of its excellent Wm Morrison Sherry, which is made by top producer Lustau, for £6 each (I particularly like the palo cortado), whereas Marks & Spencer charges £9 for theirs (same size, same producer). And you can still get Sainsbury’s immensely solid Languedoc Red for the same £7 as in 2016, although the white has crept up to £7.50.
You should also be aware that the pricier wines stocked by supermarkets can cost more than they do in an independent shop or online. For example, Ridgeview’s champagne-quality 12% Bloomsbury Sparkling Wine is normally £28.99 in Waitrose without a discount, but only £21.25 from the champagne company. com. You will also generally get a better deal from an across-theboard promotion – Waitrose has one running until 30 October – than from the discounts routinely offered on individual lines: 25% is common for such deals, whereas some discounts might be only 20%. That said, you don’t have to buy six bottles with those.
It’s all a bit of a minefield, which is why it’s worth a quick Google to check you’re not overpaying when you think you’re getting a bargain. And remember, for the really interesting wines out there, such as the sangiovese featured left, you still can’t beat the indies.