No need to be scared of these cheapies

By Richard Ehrlich, November 8, 2012
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Every so often a supermarket chain makes an attempt to take the fright-factor out of wine buying. Yes, fright.

Some people find wine incredibly intimidating. For them, staring at the wine shelves is like looking at a menu in an unfamiliar foreign language.

So the supermarkets try to help, with varying degrees of success. Years ago, Morrison’s introduced a “Great With” range: “Great With Chicken” etc. It was criticised at the time for its vagueness – chicken dishes do not all taste identical – but in the end the criticisms were irrelevant. “Great With” no longer exists.

Fast-forward a number of years and Philippa Carr, senior wine buyer for Asda, is explaining the company’s new Wine Selection range. Asda has set out to “de-risk” wine at the lower end (£4 and £5) of their price range with a special labelling and colour-coding system. This is for the people who don’t “feel confident” buying wine and are terrified of getting it wrong.

It is increasingly difficult to find good wine at £4, or even £5. But Asda has long been a leader in low-priced vino.

If you ever need some for whatever reason (I’m thinking about large gatherings at the holiday season), the Wine Selection Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 2012 could be a good starting point. Fresh gooseberry fruit; a straightforward example of the style; £4.

Asda isn’t the only place selling decent wine at £4. Tesco has managed to get a perfectly drinkable basic wine, Tesco Corbières 2011, into the shops at just £3.79. It’s 100 per cent carignan, approachable and gluggable.

Ultra-cheapness is determined not by numbers but by category, and mid-level sparkling wine is increasingly difficult to find under a tenner. All the more reason to head to Majestic for Lindauer Special Reserve, the toasty, well-balanced Kiwi fizz that has long been one of the most reliable on the market. Normally £12.99 — currently £8.99.

Another one to think about with the holiday season approaching.

Last updated: 3:32pm, November 9 2012