It’s been a while since I’ve written on this blog and I thought what better time to talk about budget wine than the lead-up to Christmas? Whether you are about to get tipsy at a work Christmas Party, currently nursing a hang-over or are simply an occasional drinker, here are my tips for drinking stylishly and cheaply.
Drink for free and learn stuff. Try out the amazing free tastings at Majestic Wine. I tried the one in Dulwich Village and our wine guru Dave talked us through a range of drinks including vintage champagne and showed us how to match it with food. This website also has a useful section on matching cheese with wine (apparently the more pungent the cheese, the sweeter the wine should be – makes sense).
Remember the grass is always greener. Look for areas near to your favourite tipple which could offer a similar flavour for lower prices. For example, if like me, you are a Rioja fan (which due to it’s fame can sometimes be overpriced) look to Jumilla. I got this tip from a wine expert in Barcelona, and tried Juan Gil Jumilla, the best wine I’ve ever had. Sadly can’t find the same exact type of bottle in the UK but please let me now if you know where…
Go own-brand. Supermarket own brands are often delicious and great value because the shops are particularly keen to ensure that their names are not associated with rubbish wine. I was first alerted to this from this excellent article by the Guardian’s Fiona Beckett. I like Sainsbury’s House Torla Rioja and apparently many of their own-brand wines are award-winning. It’s less than a fiver and is plummy with notes of blackcurrant. Sainsbury’s also has a useful website section on food and drink matching.
Don’t be sucked in by half-price deals. I would differ from Fiona Beckett’s advice slightly – she recommends half price deals but I think these are often a let-down and a bit of a con. Investigations by the consumer campaigning body Which? have shown that supermarkets often mislead customers with their supposed ‘half-price wine’ deals.
Don’t be a snob. Remember that the house wine is not necessarily bad but is more often, actually very good – as this money-saving article notes, why would a restaurant want to be associated with a rubbish wine?
Join the club (for a cheap introductory deal only). Look out for good deals on wine clubs. I tried the Sunday Times Wine Club which had an excellent introductory offer where the wines were only £3.50 each including delivery (and they threw in a free, slightly confusing corkscrew).
Matchy-matchy catchy monkey. Finally, if all else fails – why not buy this wine matching tea towel?
Please feel free to add any of your own tips.