Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Why You Should Buy Better Wine

We'd all love to be able to buy whatever wine we want, but for most of us that's just not practical. It can be easy to get into the habit of looking out for wines that are around the fiver mark on your weekly shop (there's always offers on, right?), and even easier to start thinking these wines are better value than they actually are.

The fact is, finding 'good value' wine for that price is a tricky business (it's why we are always trying to do the research for you...), but I'm equally as not made of money as you are, and equally hungry for a bargain. In my experience, spending just a couple of quid more could make all the difference.

The first thing you should consider is the astonishing amounts of tax involved in booze: excise duty on one bottle of wine is currently £2, and we also pay 20% VAT. The shop will also be passing on the cost of shipping, customs taxes if the wine is non-EU, and the fact they obviously want to make a profit.

This all sounds a bit Financial Times (does it? That's what we imagine, anyway, we've never actually read it) but it boils down to this: If you're only spending £5-6, what you're actually spending on the wine itself is mere pence. So in the best cases, the difference in price between a £5 bottle and a £7-8 bottle goes almost entirely on the wine itself - win!

It's also all about improving our attitude towards wine in general: in this modern era of binge-drinking and rising food prices, when selecting your weekly bottle it can be easy to think any wine that will get you tipsy and won't taste of paint "will do".

I know - I've done it - but that's the wrong view. Imagine if we thought that way about our food? There'd be no such thing as Masterchef and The Great British Bakeoff - it's the equivalent of imagining us all eating nothing but fish fingers and creme eggs (NO this is not a good thing). Have some respect for your wine like you do for your dinners, spend that extra couple of quid, and in so many cases you go from 'smart price' to 'Taste the Difference'.

There's also so much more choice at this range - I full believe for just a couple of quid more per bottle (spending no more than £8.50, for instance) you can get a truly memorable wine with beautiful complexity, smooth texture, and balance, one that is deliciously easy to drink on its own but could also make the right type of food sing. Basically, your drinking experience can become immeasurably more enjoyable almost for less extravagance than you'd think.

I urge you to have more respect for the wines you choose - when I spend more, I actually drink less, but by golly do I savour every sip.

Some Good Examples

Sparkling: Prosecco Valdobbiadene Spumante DOCG, £7.99, Aldi
A lot of Aldi wines are better than expected value, but the reputation of the shop as a bit of an asbo-magnet has put people off. This is one of their most expensive wines, and it's won awards left right and centre for being a refreshing, complex, fruit and floral version of a Prosecco from the best area in the region. A million times better than a cheap cava.

Red: Castelmaure Corbieres, £6.99, Morrisons
Seriously decent, soft southern French red full of flavour and crying out for richer Mediterranean dishes and things like fruity lamb or chicken and apricot tagine. So much nicer than a big-brand Aussie red for only a quid less, or a generic supermarket 'Italian red' full of astringent indelicacy.

White: Taste the Difference Alsace Gewurtztraminer, £7.99, Sainsbury's
Just... wow. Actually dangerously easy to drink, it's more like drinking lychee-rose-turkish delight juice than wine, but it's still soft, delicate, and fragrant. A real favourite here at Vinspire HQ, and mere pence more expensive than flabby chardonnays or acidic pinot grigios throughout the land.

Rose: Finest Domaine de Sours Rose, £6.79, Tesco
At the Spring Tesco Press Tasting, we took it upon ourselves to try ALL of the roses, hoping for a sneaky bargain. The truth is, (as it is with most supermarket wines) you really get what you pay for with rose. The cheaper ones can taste chemically and unnatural, but this was fresh and juicy and utterly charming.

White: Yalumba Y Series Viognier, £8.99 at ND John or £10 at Sainsbury's 
And if you want something truly special, grab a bottle of this - especially if it's on offer. Fragrant, fat, and the perfect match for oriental dishes, or basically any aromatic dishes. I challenge you to recommend anything this good for under £8.

*Prices correct at time of going to press
Image taken from Mary Hutchison's photostream under the Creative Commons License

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