Deal, or no deal? De­pends where you shop

The Guardian - Feast - - News - Fiona Beck­ett

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.

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