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.

La Grilled Sauvignon Blanc

La Grilled Sauvignon Blanc

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.

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