Supermarket wine for a fiver? It probably won't be a corker

Expert tempts shoppers to look past the obvious and break stranglehold of discounted boring bottles

Most "bargain" supermarket wine is "incredibly dull", lacking in character, blended and bland, according to an industry figure who is urging shoppers to spend a few more pounds on a really enjoyable bottle.

Most of the cost of a £4 or £5 wine goes in tax, bottling and transportation, leaving little for the drink, according to Graham Mitchell, a former director of the El Vino Company with 20 years' experience in the business.

In comments which have divided the wine trade, Mr Mitchell, whose family ran the El Vino wine bar in Fleet Street, London, said: "Unfortunately, a considerable amount of wine imported into the UK is incredibly dull. Much wine lacks character, is bland and blended for the mass-market brands, and massively discounted in a supermarket or big retail chain.

"These concoctions all taste the same, and the final wine lacks attitude, identity and soul." Supermarkets sold around 70 per cent of wine in the UK last year, at an average price of £4.59.

Mr Mitchell, who runs the website, said: "The tax alone on a bottle at this price is approaching £2.50 and then the cost of the glass, label, capsule and closure will add more, leaving less than a £1.00 for the value of the liquid inside the bottle." He urged shoppers to avoid £2.99 "bargains" and spend at least £9.99, explaining: "Although it's only three times the price you are getting eight times the quality."

Wine writers disagreed with his remarks, saying a decent bottle could still be had for £5 or £6. Richard Ehrlich, wine editor of Good Housekeeping magazine, said the ideal trade-off between price and quality was between £7 to £10 – lower than Mr Mitchell's estimate. "It's getting difficult to find a really interesting wine for less than £5, but it can be done still," Mr Ehrlich said.

Ned Halley, author of the The Best Wines in the Supermarkets 2012, said: "I don't think you have to pay £10 to get a decent bottle of wine. I would say you do need to start at about £5 because below that you will be paying for nothing but tax. Once you have got about £6 you can end up with something interesting in most supermarkets."

Supermarket sweep

Five of the best:

Popolino Rosso 2011 M&S, below, £4.99: juicy, endearing Sicilian red

Sainsbury's Cuvée Prestige Côtes du Rhône 2010 £4.79: hearty, spicy, insanely underpriced red

Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet 2010 currently £5.79: tangy, dry white

Cuvée Pêcheur 2011 Waitrose £4.69: fresh, orchardy, Toulouse white

Finca Mirador Shiraz 2009 Co-op £6.49: peppery-velvet Argentine red

Three to avoid:

Minervois 2010 Tesco £10.99: not worth it, even at perpetual half price

Morrisons Best Fleurie 2009 £8.49: "Prestige" Beaujolais far worse than the ordinary stuff

Sainsbury's House Soave £3.49 : Defines the need to avoid very cheap Italian whites

By Ned Halley, author of the Best Wines in the Supermarkets 2012, published by Foulsham at £7.99

Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
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
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam