This is a quick tale of three wines in which two of them prove, if you look hard enough amongst the supermarket shelves, there are bargains to be had.
The three supermarkets which have the starring roles in this tale are as they say ‘in no particular order’ Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi.
Starting with the Tesco McWilliams Hayfield Pinot Noir 2013 (£5.49). Looks like it’s currently unavailable online but there was still plenty on the shelves when I bought this. Produced by McWilliams, imported and bottled in the UK. The first thing that struck me about this when poured was how incredibly translucent it was. There was the typical Pinot aromas of Cherries and a touch of mushroom but the taste kind of let it down, lacking in fruit and a little thin in texture with noticeable tannins and a slight acidic aftertaste. Not too bad, nothing to get excited about but it is only £5 a bottle.
Next is the Marques De Almeida Ribera del Duero 2010 (£8) Now this is a different beast altogether from Northern Spain and part of the Sainbury’s’ Taste the difference’ range, a beautifully rich dark purple Ribera del Duero with heady aromas of blackberries, plums, cherries and vanilla. From the first sip it’s typically Spanish, rich, succulent, full of ripe dark berries, tannic and oaky. Well worth the £8.
Finally there is the Vignobles Rousselllet Malbec (£4.39) from Aldi. A French Malbec (with a touch of Merlot) bursting with juicy blackberries and blueberries, hint of spice and a little gamey. This is a uncompletcated easy drinking Malbec that is a Decanter Bronze medal winner and an International Wine Challenge winner in 2014. This is a real cracking wine and cheap as chips, stock up !
McWilliams Hayfield Pinot noir (Tesco- £5.49)
My Rating 6/10 corks
Marques de Almeida RdD (Sainsbury’s £8)
My Rating 8/10 Corks
Vignobles Roussellet Malbec (Aldi £4.49)
My Rating 8/10 Corks
Best value for money was the fabulously easy drinking Aldi Malbec, followed by the intensely rich Ribera Del Duero from Sainsbury’s and lastly the disappointing but still drinkable Tesco Pinot Noir.
You’ve just turned out of aisle 9 tinned fruit and jams and next comes the aisle 10-wine, you want to buy a nice bottle of something to go along with Sunday lunch, so after negotiating your trolley ungracefully into position, what do you see, usually there’s about half a dozen or so people staring blankly at the rows of bottles, maybe picking one up reading the back label then putting it in their trolley only to reach back a few seconds later and put it back on the shelf. Supermarket wine aisles can be daunting to some especially those with little wine knowledge or experience who only want to find a reasonable bottle to drink with their evening meal. To others it’s just somewhere to pick up the cheapest bottle of red or white not really caring where it comes from or what it is.
Quite often I get comments like ‘had a lovely bottle of wine last night’ and when I ask what it was they shrug and say ‘don’t know but it was red’, other comments I’ve had are along the lines ‘think it was Australian or was it French, not really sure but it tasted good’ Now there’s nothing wrong with this attitude they seemed quite happy but what happens if someone generally wants to pick a nice reasonable bottle instead of blindly picking the cheapest on the shelf. Many a time I’ve tried to help by suggesting an alternative or just steering them in the right direction, sometimes they’re grateful other times I see them go straight back to their original cheapest option, maybe I will always be fighting a losing battle.
This is where supermarkets could try a lot harder to help. All of the stores split their aisles into red,white, rose and sparkling and generally a section of shelving is divided into various countries, now this is where it needs improving. Most supermarkets already have a number rating for wines ranging from dry to sweet but why not in each country section have some basic information about typical grape varieties, maybe a map showing the different wine regions. For some of the popular bestsellers have a little write up along side the bottles, this is all pretty basic stuff that would make the wine aisles a little more interesting or else you might as well have a row of bottles with blank labels.
Another little gripe of mine is the helpfulness of the assistants in the wine aisles, ok, I know that the person is not a wine expert and probably half the time doesn’t work in that particular aisle but I do expect a better response, as happened the other day to the question have you got anymore South African Chenin Blanc ‘d’nno mate, hang on a minute’ then proceeded to look in the Australian section.
Listen I know it’s a supermarket and not a wine merchant/outlet but it’s where a lot of people buy their wines. A little more thought into giving a little more general wine information would definitely add to the supermarket wine buying experience.