Tuesday, 3 September 2013

5 Supermarket Own-Label Wines That Will Blow Your Mind

As someone who lives and breathes exploring the wine world, seeking out unknown producers and exciting new bottles bursting with flavour, I never really want to be in the position where I have to rely on the very variable quality of supermarket-own brand wines for my weekly vino hit.

That said, sometimes you just need another bottle - an unexpected visitor, some good news to toast, or a mercy-dash during a dinner party that's just going too well - and it generally falls to a hurried scan along the bulging shelves of your local supermarket.

It's nice to have some failsafes to fall back on - a reasonable price, and relatively guaranteed availability - and supermarket-own labels can be the best bet if you know where to look. Over the years of experimentation I've developed quite a handy list, ranging from £3.99 to £8:

Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Alsace Gewurztraminer, £7.99

The most expensive of the list, but one of my all-time favourite supermarket-own wines. For the price, you get an exquisitely tasty white wine: exploding with fruity flavour, floral aromas, and a hint of spice, this is a lovely example of the gewurztraminer grape. Perfect with Asian cuisine, or a fragrant pork dish, it's also one of the most dangerously drinkable wines I know.

Tesco's Simply Cotes-du-Rhone, £3.99

From one end of the scale to the other, this is the cheapest wine I'm featuring today. Okay, so the fact this is under £4 means you're spending mere pence on the wine itself (when you factor in Duty, VAT, and shipping costs), however this is still a huge leap up in quality in comparison to many of the big-brand Aussie and American shelf-fillers. Smooth, packed with juicy red fruits, and food-friendly, this always seems to be a crowd-pleaser - and if you're feeling self-conscious, just pop it in a carafe and say it's a Cotes-du-Rhone (it is, after all) and no one will be any the wiser.

A perfect one to stock up on a few bottles and hide them under the stairs until required - you never know when you'll need another bottle...

Waitrose Rich and Intense Italian Red, £4.99

I know those bottles which only have a vague description of the contents as their name can be off-putting. This, however, is a robust, chunky-fruited blend of popular Italian grape varieties (including Montepulciano and Primitivo) and it's really not bad at all. Warming, great with a pizza or pasta dish, and good value for money - which isn't something I'd usually associate with Waitrose.

Aldi Gavi, £4.99

Aldi's wines have caused a bit of a storm recently, as more and more journalists and consumers catch on to some of the exceptional value found in this downmarket supermarket. I've been a fan of them for years, and this Gavi is a perfectly reasonable crisp dry white. It really does taste like a Gavi - albeit a less complex one than you may be used to - that said, it's citrus flavours abound along with some nuttiness and a smooth texture. A lovely slurper, but will also suit your average chicken and salad dishes.

Asda Wine Selection Dao, £4.50

A good example of an entry-level Portuguese red, this makes all the right Dao noises: smooth spice, rich fruit, and nice concentrated flavours. Not bad at all, especially with a stew, a chorizo dish, or anything in the moroccan/tagine camp. Also a nice warming sipper for when the nights get a little colder.

What are your go-to supermarket buys? I'd love to rack up some more failsafes, so please leave a comment or have a chat on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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