I suspect a fair number of you buy your wine from a supermarket on the basis that it’s bound to be cheaper there. Well, while that may well be the case if you shop at Aldi or Lidl, it ain’t necessarily so: a fair number of supermarket wines seem to have crept up in price recently, and are now hitting the £9 mark, Tesco’s rather appealing Finest St Chinian, which was £7.50 this time last year, being a case in poinit.
Given that, you need also to be cautious about “special offers”, which may not be quite as good as they look. I got pretty excited about getting the celebrated English sparkling wine Nyetimber for £14.99 at Waitrose, until I discovered it was only a half-bottle. However, the same store’s current deal on Ridgeview Bloomsbury (12%), which can be up to £30 elsewhere, is well worth snapping up at £21.69.
Even wine boxes, which you’d be forgiven for assuming were a less expensive way to buy wine than by the bottle, aren’t necessarily the bargain they might at first appear, particularly if they’re endorsed by a celeb. The pretty humdrum new Phillip Schofield Organic Nero di Troia (13%), from Puglia, for example, is £24.99 for two-and-a-quarter litres at Waitrose – or, in other words, the equivalent of £8.33 a bottle. You could buy a similar and rather better example of a southern Italian red at Morrisons, whose The Best Negromaro is £6.50 at time of writing. Or, if you really want a wine box – or rather a giant wine tube – go for the Terre de Faiano in today’s panel (below), which is only a pound more expensive and much better quality.
If you’re someone who’s been supporting local food producers or takeaways from your favourite restaurant, you might want to buy at least some of your wine from indies, too, especially suppliers and importers who service the currently non-existent restaurant trade. Many pubs and restaurants are positively encouraging customers to use their suppliers to keep them going. Others, such as The Fox & Hounds in Hunsdon, Hertfordshire, are selling wines direct themselves, alongside pasta sauces and pies.
Granted, you won’t find much – if anything – for less than £6 at an indy, but if you’re prepared to spend between £7 and £10 a bottle, you’ll certainly get a more interesting wine than you would from a supermarket. And you can get it delivered to your door, rather than having to queue for an hour to get in, social distance down the wine aisles or lurk over your computer late at night in the hope of finding a delivery slot.
Nivei Rioja Blanco 2018
£5.99, Lidl, 13%.
Fresh, easy-drinking blend of sauvignon blanc, verdejo, tempranillo blanco, viura and three other grape varieties, which makes it more nuanced than straight sauvignon blanc. And which you wouldn’t expect for this price or this region.
Terre di Faiano Rosso Puglia
At the equivalent of £8.66 a bottle, this isn’t bargain basement, but it is good value for a generously rich, spicy red. It comes in a stylish tube that would make it a good gift, too. Ideal with baked pasta dishes such as lasagne, or with a lockdown cheeseboard.
Enticingly deep-coloured, full-flavoured Spanish rosé from Somantano from a couple who make, import and sell the wines themselves. Perfect for summer barbecues (and with Sainsbury’s Bacon Crispies, according to their Instagram feed.)
Mundo de Yuntero Organic Red Bio
Joyous, gulpable, juicy red that’s really good value – and organic, to boot. The accompanying fresh, zippy white (a blend of verdejo and sauvignon blanc), while not quite as beguiling, is very drinkable too.
£7.99, Aldi, 11.5%.
Not the cheapest prosecco on the market, but with a great deal more character than most at the price. And, again, it’s organic.
• For more by Fiona Beckett, go to matchingfoodandwine.com
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