Quit whining. If you want good wine, you’ll have to pay for it.

wine glassesI’m reminiscing again. Back when I was 17 and painting Birmingham red, my friends and I used to go to the local off licence and buy whichever bottle or white wine was £1.99 or less. Now, while we were far from connoisseurs, it was decent enough* and we went on our wobbly and half-dressed way into town happy.

Nowadays, the average price of a bottle of wine in the UK is £4.55, but Guy Woodward, editor of Decanter** magazine recently warned that you don’t get good wine for that price, and was accused of being a wine snob. By ASDA.

ASDA’s argument was that Woodward’s own magazine awarded a prestigious Gold Medal to ASDA’s own brand Rioja, which comes in at a very respectable £4.20. While conceding the exception to the rule, Woodward does make a more serious point about the quality of wine.

You see, out of the £4.55 average bottle of wine, £1.81 is spent on alcohol duty and 76p in VAT, which leaves less than £2 for the wine itself. Bearing in mind that the supermarkets are (naturally) going to make a turn on this, and taking out transport, bottling and delivery costs, how much of that £2 do you think actually goes on the actual wine? And you are surprised if it tastes like used vinegar?

And the taxman's huge cut is why Tesco’s have decided it is no longer viable for them to offer 3 bottles for £10 deals, as each bottle would have less than 97p to cover costs and make a profit. ASDA, on the other hand, who boast a wine master (posh bloke, drinks wine all day) among their team, do still offer the £10 deal, although a cynic would guess it is the wine producer, rather than the retail giant who is losing out.

So Woodward’s advice is to spend an extra £2 on a bottle, as most of this will go straight on the content, and therefore the taste.

So what do you think? Do you care enough about the taste to cough up an extra £2 or would that make you a wine snob? As all we are allowed to drink in the Bitterwallet office is Tennents Extra, we are probably not the best people to ask...

*as in, not as bad as the paintstripper or coloured paintstripper known as Thunderbird or 20/20 respectively. Good times.

** glass thing you are supposed to pour red wine into before drinking. Most people I know use themselves as a decanter.

[The Guardian]


  • Nick T.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with the wines offered in Asda's 3 for a tenner promotion. They're pretty well all good, and certainly a darn sight better than the gutrot they used to serve in the Rum Runner and the Opposite Lock at three times the price.
  • Paddy
    I can't drink red wine as I tend to 'outpin' if I do. However, there are some cracking Chilean sauvignon blanc's you can get for £5/£6 in Tesco and Asda although I do agree that if you fork out a bit more, you'll get a far nicer wine which is stating the bleeding obvious.
  • Ceri
    Judging wine by price alone is foolish as Supermarket wine prices are a farce. They put the prices up for a few weeks so they can appear to have it on 'special' offer. Buy it, if you like it, get it again.
  • yak
    I dont think I've ever been in any of the big supermarkets when they dont have half price offers on at least one decent bottle of wine...
  • Mark C.
    I tend to buy my wine in Morrisons, which doesn't seem to do many multiple deals, but they've usually got some decent wines on discount, and even some of the regular price wines are decent value. The local Sainsburys also seems to have decent deals, while Tesco is a bit more hit and miss. Mind you, it's all academic now as I live in East London, so they're all probably all currently on fire.

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