Absent numbers worth counting on

By Richard Ehrlich, January 16, 2014
Chocoholic Pinotage 2013

Chocoholic Pinotage 2013

I do not often frequent price-comparison websites. Knowing that one supermarket is selling Fairy Liquid for 21 pence less than another is never going to make me shop elsewhere. But a new site called Bring a Bottle (BaB) — www.bringabottle.co.uk — might be enough to make me change my tune, at least where drink is concerned.

BaB lists prices from all five of the UK’s major national supermarkets — Waitrose, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco — plus Majestic Wine Warehouses, Laithwaites, and a few other retailers.

When you search for the name of a particular wine or spirit, you can compare prices from all the retailers who sell it. And the price differences are sometimes significant. For instance: at the time of writing, Morrisons and Asda were selling the estimable Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir for £5, a full £2.50 less than Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

The site has limitations. It does not seem to include all the wines from each retailer’s list. There are a lot of big brands and a relative paucity of smaller curiosities. And it is most helpful if you know exactly what you’re looking for.

M&S is absent for the simple reason that all its wines are sold only by them. Thus, BaB takes no note of Campo Aldea Rioja Graciano 2008 (M&S, £12.99), but you should. Graciano is a “lesser” grape variety normally blended with Tempranillo to make Spain’s premier red, but this oak-kissed example shows what it can do on its own.
The Co-op too is absent from BaB, and you should head on over there for La Grille Sauvignon Blanc 2012, which it sells for £6.99. This is a subtle, restrained example from the Touraine. If you buy two bottles before February 3, you’ll get the same price at Majestic.

La Grilled Sauvignon Blanc

La Grilled Sauvignon Blanc

And finally, something else you won’t find on BaB: Chocoholic Pinotage 2013, South Africa’s flagship grape variety made using a portion of grapes that have been treated in a way that’s similar to the grapes used in the Veneto to make Amarone and Ripasso wines. Dense, sweet and powerful. I loved it. At Harvey Nichols, in-store or online, at £11.

Last updated: 5:45pm, January 16 2014