Tuesday, 15 July 2014

10 Good Value Under-£5 Wines for Drinking Better On a Budget

Photo: Kimerydavis (CCL)

The whole team at Vinspire has always been proud of being totally unsnobby when it comes to our drinking habits and recommendations. We don't believe in being elitist and looking down our noses at 'cheap' wine just because we're lucky enough sometimes to be able to afford to spend a little more on a bottle - fundamentally, we're about finding good, enjoyable wine to drink at every price point. We're passionate about good wine, and good wine doesn't always mean expensive wine.

Yes, we have in the past explained that if you can possibly afford to spend £7-10 on a bottle, it's definitely worth doing, because - as this handy infographic explains - Duty, VAT, shipping costs, overheads (and so on) take up the first few pounds of a wine's price. This means the more you spend on a wine, the more money the wine inside the bottle is actually worth.

AND YET, sometimes, you just can't afford £7. Sometimes money is too tight, sometimes you have something you're saving up for, and sometimes it's just good to find excellent value, mid-week wines that really make your money go further when you don't want to spend too much.

As a not-very-rich kind of girl myself, I've long been enthusiastic about sampling as much of the sub-£5 range as possible, because I like to have failsafe go-to wines under a fiver that I know will be enjoyable to drink.

So I've made a list of some of the best value under £5 bottles in the supermarkets. No, not one of them is going to be particularly complex, long or perfectly balanced - but to be honest, I've tried plenty of £7-10 bottles that don't meet those standards either!
But the recommendations below are pleasant to drink rather than acidic/sugary/limp, and they'll be great to sip mid-week or share a glass of with a friend when you're waiting for payday - or a lottery win.

1. Tesco Simply Garnacha, £4.79
When I first tried this, I was stunned by its juicy, soft and easy-drinking style - it really does give a lot of value for money. Spanish garnacha (or grenache, as it's known elsewhere) isn't particularly fashionable, which is partly why you find under £5 examples this good. It's made from 25 to 30 year old vines (which is a great age for a wine this price!) that give added complexity, and its made simply, with no cheap oak chips getting in the way of the fruity freshness.

2. Sainsbury's Basics White Wine, £3.45
STICK WITH ME and let me explain! Yes, I know this comes in a plastic bottle. Yes, I know there are lots of Sainsbury's 'House' whites that might taste better. But I want everyone to know that you can drink this wine and not be repulsed. It's simple, fruity and quite soft, with a tiny bit of sweetness to mellow it out. It's not the worst wine I've tried by a long way, and for £3.45, it absolutely does its job.

3. Toro Loco Rose, Aldi, £3.79

Whenever I discuss good value, under £5 wines, this is always recommended to me. The reason it's good at that price point is because it's fruit but crucially dry - none of this sugary, ribena-esque character you get with big-brand rose. Serve it chilled in the garden on a sunny day, and you'll be reaching for a second glass, I bet.

4. Waitrose Rich and Intense Italian Red Wine, £4.99
A blend of three grapes, including the well-known montepulciano and primitivo, this has been blended together to be smooth, full of flavour, and big-bodied. If you're cooking something hearty just for the family, this will go down a treat, and is equally warming in front of the telly after a hard day. You may notice this is also the first non-Spanish recommendation I've made...

5. Vinho Verde, Aldi, £4.99
This is a double whammy of 'hooray, an easy-drinking white wine under a fiver!' and 'hooray, a trendy wine that I can show off about!' Everyone's all over vinho verde at the moment, and with good reason - it's a lively, fresh and often slightly spritzy wine with a great summery character. Yes, you can find better bottles of this for not too much over a fiver, but this is a perfectly passable example. A brilliant 'Tuesday wine', as my friend Rosy calls it.

6. Firemark Tempranillo-Bonarda, Tesco, £4.99
This is a blend of two grape varieties that always seem to be in the shadow of malbec when it comes to Argentine reds, but I think that's quite unfair when you consider their value for money. Tempranillo, as I'm sure many of you know, is the main grape in Rioja from Spain, but is increasingly grown all over the place with great success, and I've written about the fruit bomb that is the bonarda grape before.
Slurpable, spicy and oh so very juicy, this is a more than decent barbecue wine.

7. El Guia Rose, Waitrose, £4.79
Spain comes up trumps again. Light in style but with intense raspberry flavours. Much, much tastier than the big brand stuff from America.

8. Tesco Simply Muscadet, £4.79
Of all the Tesco Simply whites, this is definitely one of the absolute best, although there's generally value to be found across the whole range from what I've tried so far. It's just lovely to get a light, citrussy French wine with some lees-age, which gives it extra body and complexity.

9. Sainsbury's Winemakers Australian Pinot Grigio, 2 for £10 (normally £6)
Okay, so THIS one is a bit of a cheat, because it's only a fiver if you buy two, and only while it's on
offer. But I was so pleasantly surprised by how fat and juicy this was - much more akin to pinot gris than your average acidic Italian pinot grigio. For a fiver, this is a total bargain, and went really well with some chinese-style chicken.

10. Aldi Soave, £3.89
I've tried the 'budget' soaves from sainsbury's and Tesco, but for me this is the best value, tastiest one out there for under a fiver. It's fresh and floral with mouthwatering acidity and is basically better than everything on the entirety of Sainsbury's 'house' white wine range - which, by the way, is almost all more expensive than this wine. Aldi really does do the best value budget wines!

What are you under-£5 go-to wines? Tell us all about them so we can try them!

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