Supermarket Wine: the Good, the Acceptable and the Downright Ugly

supermarket-wines

Supermarkets sell almost 90% of all the wine bought in the UK for ‘off-trade’ consumption, i.e. not including wine drunk in pubs, bars or restaurants. Buying wine in such huge quantities gives economies of scale and cheaper prices, but do you get what you pay for? In other words, is supermarket wine any good?

To find out, I recently bought six different bottles from Tesco and Sainsburys. Some supermarket wines were excellent, some ok (though I wouldn’t rush back to buy another bottle), and some were shockingly bad. Here’s my analysis:

THE GOOD

  1. My favourite wine of the bunch:  Bellingham The Bernard Series Basket Press Syrah 2018, Sainsburys (£14). Gorgeous nose of perfumed blackberries and black cherries; lovely texture and balance, silky tannins, and a long finish which caresses the tongue. A delicious South African red which tastes like a Northern Rhone.
  2. Beronia Reserva Rioja 2015, Sainsburys (also available in Waitrose) (£15). Classic Rioja with sweet berry fruit and vanilla; round, supple and smooth, so satisfying to drink. Great match for roast lamb
  3. Saint Chinian Taste the Difference (Laurent Miquel) 2017, Sainsburys (£9). Berry fruits, garriguey herbs, hint of oak, fine texture and savoury tannins. An excellent Languedoc and remarkable value (currently available for £9).
  4. DV Catena Historic Rows Cabernet Franc, Uco Valley Argentina 2018, Tesco (£12). Attractive nose of plums and redcurrants with a touch of vanilla. On the palate, very smooth and well-balanced with fine tannins and shows the freshness that comes from a high altitude vineyard. Will be even better if kept for a year!
  5. Grüner Veltliner Taste the Difference (Marcus Huber) Austria 2019, Sainsburys (£9). Classic stone-fruit and white pepper; fragrant, minerally, medium body, well-made and very good quality for the price.

I loved all of these supermarket wines and would very happily buy any of them again.

THE ACCEPTABLE

  1. Vasse Felix Classic Syrah Margaret River, Australia 2018, Tesco (£12). Brambly, blackcurranty and herby nose. Peppery fruit, hint of oak, nice balance, mid-weight, very pleasant but no more than that.
  2. Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir, Chile 2018, Tesco (£14). Raspberry, red cherry, sweet spice; soft and round, medium bodied. Pleasant, ‘solid’ pinot but previous vintages have been better.
  3. Feuerhead Reserva Douro Valley, Portugal 2017, Sainsburys. Black fruits, hints of menthol and thyme, dry, earthy, savoury tannins, enjoyable.
  4. Sette Muri Brindisi Riserva, Italy 2017, Tesco (£11). 100% negroamaro. Earthy black fruits, spicy/gutsy red. The alcohol really stands out giving a ‘hot’ finish. ‘Spag bol’ wine.
  5. Marques Casa Concha Syrah, Chile 2017, Tesco (£13). A ‘big’ wine in every way, in fact too much. A wine on steroids – loads of fruit, loads of oak, loads of tannin and high in alcohol. Some people might like this style of wine but I didn’t, and I nearly put it in the ‘downright ugly’ category!

THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY

    1. McGuigan The Shortlist Barossa Shiraz 2018, Sainsburys (£15). Shockingly bad wine! Smells of boiled sweets, stewed cranberries and vanilla. Tastes thin, short, sour and astringent. Very poor wine from a big brand. Avoid at all costs!
    2. Brumale Vino de Montepulciano 2015, Tesco (£12). Absolutely horrid. Stewed, vegetal, astringent, sour thin, very short (flavour lasted about 7 seconds). No sangiovese character, tastes ‘cheap’, and a terrible advert for a wonderful wine region!

There were some lovely wines here and Sainsburys made a particularly good showing. Now, a confession about price – I bought all of these wines when there was a special offer of 25% off their entire range (as long as you bought a mixture of at least six bottles). So when you take that into account there were some huge bargains to be had. Watch out for the next 25% off at Sainsburys and Tesco!

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