Tuesday’s wine tips: Buying supermarket wines

Tuesday’s wine tips: Buying supermarket wines

Buying supermarket wines can be a daunting prospect. There’s a huge amount of choice available and a whole sea of deals, but how do you know you’re buying the best wine for your money?

Here’s a few tips to remember next time you’re shopping for wine.

If you’re not sure, ask

While not every supermarket has assistants who know what they’re talking about, many of them put a great deal of effort in training – at the very least – their full time wine staff. Supermarkets such as Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, and Waitrose are particularly good at training their staff. There’s nothing to lose by asking.

Try a new grape variety

The supermarket shelves may be filling with a greater variety of wine brands but you’ll notice the grape varieties are slimming to big-sale classics such as Sauvignons, Pinot, Cabernet, etc. A retailer will be pretty sure of wine quality if its stocking more obscure varieties such as Albarino, Nebbiolo and Pinot Gris. This might be too risky for some buyers who know they like, say, Sauvignon wines and might just stick to buying those, but if you’re open to trying and learning new things about wine then try something new. The retailer’s wine buyers have bought them for a reason.

Look beyond the offers

You might have seen Oz Clarke’s video where he exposes the issues with supermarket offers on wine. You need to be careful about getting your money’s worth. If a wine is always on offer at £5.99, then it’s probably only worth £5.99. Instead, look for the wines that are rarely on offer. If something’s about £6 but never goes on offer, it’s likely better value than the £10 wine that’s half price for 6 months of the year.

An old friend once told me the best supermarket wines are between £8 and £15. Below that and you will find some good table wine deals and beyond that you’re looking at either cellar wines or wines trading on their reputation. I’ve followed that advice for a while when shopping in supermarkets, saving my money for more premium wines when I visit independent retailers or regional specialists such as Great Western Wine.

Own label brand? Go top range

Wines such as Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference or Waitrose’s In Partnership With wines are far better than their ordinary brand labels. Perhaps that’s pretty obvious but you’ll be surprised just how different the quality is. Remember that these retailers are putting their names, and their reputations, to those wines.

Check in next week for more tips.


Ben’s eBook, The Unofficial Guide to Buying Wine from Waitrose, is coming soon.