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Is it Goodbye to £5 Wine?

Who knows where wine prices will settle when the current round of inflation finally levels out?

I certainly have no definitive answers, but I will happily share my best guess.

We know that UK wine prices have been almost unsustainably low for some time.

Consequently, current rises in general grocery prices could well prove to be the catalyst for a modest correction.

Indeed, it is already happening – with, I sense, upward wine price movement in Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons.

If that is what it takes to preserve quality levels, I don’t feel that we should argue too much.

I taste more entry point wines than most – and the number of low-cost wines I reject as “unrecommendable” is rising sharply.

Finding sound, typical and reliable wine starting with a “5” is becoming something of a lottery.

The sweet spot seems to centre on a list price around the £7 – £8 mark with occasional promotions offering discounts of a pound (and sometimes two).

Both of today’s Top Tips seem to confirm that conclusion.

So, head over to read about them now – one has a background story of talented producers defying (or, at least, evading) the Goliath of bureaucracy.

The images and hyperlinks provided should help you to find them in crowded displays.

Rich, smooth malbec from experienced hands

2021 Tesco Finest Argentinian Malbec (£6 – instead of £8 until 18 June – for Tesco Clubcard holders and 13.5% abv):

Indulge in the richness of this exquisite malbec, crafted for Tesco by a renowned Argentinian winemaker.

Its velvety smoothness and delicate touch of sweetness will win it many friends.

Enjoy, in particular, the flavours of its of ripe, dark berry components complemented by subtle smoky and herbal nuances, carefully balanced by hints of oak and gentle tannins.

When breaking the rules pays off.

The Guv’nor Vino Blanco (from £6.99 at Majestic): 

Frequently, winemaking involves the art of blending, but regions often have strict regulations controlling the proportions and varieties that can be used there.

Transgress them, and you are obliged to use that area’s lowest classification regardless of the quality of the actual wine.

Occasionally, however, producers accept that downside because they are so confident of the quality of their “non-compliant” wine.

This idiosyncratic blend of verdejo, sauvignon, and chardonnay is one such wine.

Its characteristics begin with tantalizing chalky aromas, unfolding into a symphony of nutty apple, melon, and pear flavours.

Pursuing the musical analogies, these are harmonised by vibrant orange acidity, all supported by a backdrop of sage and fennel notes.

This Thursday’s post contains the usual mix of Sunday Best, Friday Treat wines for times that demand a modest step up from the UK equivalent of vin ordinaire.

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Barry Hulme

Agree about the Guv’nor Brian we discovered it about nine months ago following a positive experience with the Guv’nor red. Again the maker isn’t following the rules but has made a fruity Tempranillo with less oak than Rioja which is in my opinion a gem at the Majestic 6 bottle price and well worth trying.

Brian Elliott

I am with you on the red too Barry. So good to see folk being unconventional and it paying off. It suggests that the process starts with “What do customers enjoy” rather than “How do we educate customer to like our wine” – which does seem an attitude in some traditional winemaking areas.

Richard from Leeds

The Guv’nor White & Red both received a thumbs up & approval in this weekends tipples by the extended family.
Found the Majestic staff very helpful.
Guv’nor VIP Red was also on tasting so indulged – very nice but at £9.99 mmm Regards ….

Brian Elliott

More love for the Guv’nor and well deserved too. Majestic staff are usually terrific (wine enthusiasts not just folk who sell wine). It is good to see Majestic getting its mojo back after some bleak years. They do occupy a unique place in the wine scene. Big enough to influence winemakers yet specialised enough not to treat the result as a commodity.

Eddie Walker

Hello Brian … interesting propositions up for discussion this morning. I spotted an Aldi bottle online yesterday after price-checking their excellent Castellore Primitivo, still £5.79.

But look at this!!

Cambalala SA Merlot at an astonishing £2.69 … an anomalous aberration maybe and begs the question of why and is it ever likely worth a minute of our consideration. I suppose that’s your main point. Getting past entry level offerings not worth the bother for the more discerning wine drinker, into the next-level-up and getting value for the improved quality there. Aldi still have quite a few under-a-fiver bottles to tempt us.

And then what to choose that might be a little different, interesting, without working through that card like I know you have to do as a pro’ reviewer. There’s a lot of poor stuff on the shelves across the whole retail trade that we can waste our money on trying out different offerings.

My solution is trying to circumvent the system any way I can for price reductions on known-knowns!! The excellent Portuguese Rabo de Galo at Iceland of all outlets, was £5.99 for years. It’s been at £6.50 for several months now. I shop Iceland regularly anyway, stocking-up on seafood freezer specifics. But like Sainsbury’s Nectar points and Tesco Clubcard Iceland have a scheme on a Tuesday, for older customers, of a 10% discount across their whole product range including wine and beer. So my Rabo de Galo is actually cheaper now than it’s ever been at £5.85!

But I do treat myself every now and then with a Wine Society free delivery order experimenting there with their extensive slightly more expensive starting point range. And did a Majestic run too recently, mainly to have the lovely Pringle Bay Pinot Noir spoken about here and red Guv’nor. But I got that Guv’nor Blanco too, and what a belter it is at £6.99 on a mix-6 buy!!

Brian Elliott

Glad you are joining the Guv’nor fan clan Eddie – but, as you illustrate, we do need a variety of “hacks” to try to keep within budget


The Tesco’s Malbec only £4.50 with the 25% off six bottles if you get there before closing time today Monday. I’ve been and cleared the shelves at the local branch. Thanks Brian.

Brian Elliott

Well done for clearing the shelves. As you say, that wine is astounding value at under a fiver. All praise to Eddie too who is tireless in seeking out those promotions that play such an important part in “riding the offers” and thus help to combat the effect of inflation. Thanks for getting in touch – always good to hear from our delightful tribe of subscribers.

Paul Davies

Tesco Vina Castelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo at £4.75 normal price is a steal.Hide the label,do not reveal the price and friends will say that this is an £9 bottle for sure.Not quite the death of £5 wine yet!

Brian Elliott

You are right Paul, there are some exceptions and I try to call attention to them when I find them but they are, I fear, fairly scarce. For instance, today is Wednesday and, so far this week I have assessed 18 wines. One was exceptionally good, two were above average and three more narrowly tipped the needle in the right direction. The remaining twelve were below average – or worse. Hence the frustration evident in my introduction to that post.

Eddie Walker

Have now drunk a bottle of the Tesco Finest Argentinean Malbec and can concur about it’s superior quality, classy, perfumed drinking that makes it one of my best value for money supermarket reds this year so far. Great vintage if they can maintain ongoing this standard.

Brian Elliott

Glad it ticks boxes for you Eddie. It is, as you say, great value for money.

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