Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Back to Uni: Tips for Finding Good Value Wine on a Student Loan

- A guest post by Angus Hunter

Summer is over, Autumn is here, and with it comes the return to reality for students travelling to universities all over the country. Whether returning or starting afresh every student faces the same dilemma: the farewell to the well-stocked fridge.

Whether you’re returning to Oxford Brookes and are losing Mum’s New Zealand Sauv Blanc or are off to Exeter and will be missing your Dad's taste in Claret, the same thought is on everyone’s mind…how can I get as much decent quality, drinkable alcohol with my student loan as possible?

After spending the last year in the wine trade I’m convinced that it is possible to drink really great wine that doesn’t break the bank. But how, Angus, you ask? How do I go about finding these rare gems? Well, let me answer that with some tips on trying to keep the cost down:

1) Avoid the fancier ‘Appellations’ 

Names like Bordeaux, Chablis and Sancerre tend to carry a higher price as they come with a believed quality (although this quality isn’t always apparent in all supermarket examples, even if they do tend to set you back over a tenner a bottle). There's no shame in looking for wines with Vin de Pays on the bottle these will be a certain grape variety from an area within France and will often give you more bang for your buck. You could also try looking for smaller appellations like Cotes du Roussillon, wines from slightly lesser-known regions like Navarra, or less recognisable grapes like barbera and garganega.

Try Domaine Muret, an unoaked Chardonnay from the South of France: at only £8.95 it’s a steal compared to the white Burgundies you'd get at that price, and would definitely pass inspection if you’ve got to impress.


2. Avoid the Supermarkets' offer trickery

Sure everyone says it, “support your local high street”…but really you should. If you’ve only got £5.99 for a bottle of wine you’re guaranteed to get a better bottle from your local wine shop than from Tesco. If you don’t know where your nearest independent shop is then Jamie Goode has a cunning tool to help you find it.



3. Avoid the Second Cheapest Bottle

Not really a tip on keeping the price down but an important one to note. Supermarkets can do horrible things to make you spend your hard-earned student loan, and one of them is tricking you into thinking you’re getting the right thing. With wine, when they’ve got to shift a whole load of excess stock they don’t mark it down as the cheapest, they often mark it down as the second cheapest. This is in the hope that you’ll want to impress and grab that slightly more expensive bottle instead.

Consistently one of the cheapest wines on Waitrose’s shelf is their Good Ordinary Claret, a French Red Wine in layman’s terms. At just £4.99, it's spot on for when you try and imitate Mum’s roast to show off to your new flatmates.


4. Bigger Is Better

Get your mates involved too and get 12 bottles together - you know you’ll drink them all! This way you may be able to get a discount on the case: for instance, until this Sunday at midnight Ocado currently have a deal on where wine lovers get 20% off when you buy just four bottles!

Tesco Wine end-of-season mixed cases are also a good bet, as they often want to shift some wines that need drinking in the next 6 months or so (pah! As if you'd need that long). Their Exceptional Entertaining Dozen is currently half price at £75 (£6.25 a bottle - and it includes a nice Cava, plus Rioja and Chianti) and their Finest Four Star Mixed Whites are £33 (£5.50 per bottle) - the same goes for their Finest Reds case. The Tesco Finest range is more often than not excellent quality and value, so paying just over a fiver a bottle means you can drink in style and have a few quid left for a night out or two.

This was a guest post by Angus Hunter. If you've got something to say about your favourite tipple, get in touch!

Image of wine rack taken from Andy Mangold's photostream under the Creative Commons License

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