Anthony Rose: 'The history of supermarkets selling fine wines is littered with bottles left unloved on the shelf

Just as the tasting of the Bordeaux 2009 vintage switched to sales mode a couple of weeks back, Tesco was announcing the launch of a new Fine Wine range on This has nothing to do with Tesco's Finest range which, despite the name, is simply a clever way of marketing everyday wines. According to Tesco itself, it was to do with the return of consumer confidence, although it was notable that it coincided with Waitrose and Majestic's Bordeaux 2009 opening offers.

The term "fine wine" is difficult to pin down. I suspect that for many, it's a turn-off, conjuring up what the toff tendency lays down, invests in and occasionally drinks. To think more positively about fine wine may require a higher disposable income than the norm, but it also involves a recognition that there are indeed wines worth paying the extra for. Why? Fine wine can be broadly differentiated from everyday wine by elusive features such as intensity of flavour, texture, elegance, ageability and a mineral element hinting at a unique sense of where that wine comes from.

The history of supermarkets trying to sell fine wines is littered with bottles left unloved on the shelf. Marks & Spencer's Connoisseur range, Sainsbury's Vintage Selection and other attempts to package the idea of fine wine have generally resulted in much dust – a perceived attribute of fine wine – gathering. If you're prepared to buy by the case, the internet allows supermarkets to sell small premium parcels without interfering with consumer footfall. As Tesco baldly puts it, "It is not that fine wine cannot sell in store, it's that the space they would command in store is never going to be as much as the opportunity online."

If Tesco has more or less ceded the sale of fine wine in store to the independent wine merchant, it's not always easy to find "fine wine" in store anywhere any more. There was a cornucopia of excellent wines at Waitrose's recent summer tasting, all available online, but most in a limited number of branches. Some are so good none the less that they're worth the detour: the complex 2006 Querciabella Chianti Classico, £17.99, for instance, available in just 20 stores, is a great Tuscan red with concentrated sour cherry fruit flavour, a hint of star anise and super-sleek texture.

Marks & Spencer, too, tends to limit its pricier offerings to the bigger stores or even, in the case of a perfumed strawberryish pinot like the 2008 Wild Earth Pinot Noir, £17.99, to their growing range of online exclusives. Oddbins at least is trying to restore the idea of one-off parcels of wine, while making an effort to refresh the list with quality such as the youthful, bright 2007 Château Tournefeuille, Lalande de Pomerol, £24.99, case price £19.99, a Right Bank claret with a touch of cedary oak spice and textured cassis and cherry fruit flavours.

Of all the major retailers, Majestic has the greatest abundance of fine wine in store, much helped by their clever reduction to a minimum of six instead of 12 bottles.

Try Te Mata's stylish vanilla and lemony, Graves-like 2008 Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc, from Hawkes Bay, £17.49, buy 2 = £13.99, or the fragrant, modern, raspberryish 2005 Beaune Premier Cru Rouge, £19.99, buy 2 = £14.99, from Louis Jadot. A taste of how the other half lives, and drinks, could become addictive.

Suggested Topics

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers

nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London