With any alcoholic product sold in the UK, those at the lower price points are more impacted by tax. Import duty on still table wines is currently £2.03 per standard 750ml plus VAT at 20% of the final sale price. This is regardless of whether the value of the wine in the bottle is £2, or £2000. You therefore get vastly more wine for your money when you start paying a bit more.
At this price point, it’s best to avoid being drawn to the usual big brand names and go for the supermarket own labels. This leaves more of what little money left there is to spend on the actual wine itself, rather than expensive marketing.
However, there are some great wines to be found on sale for around £5 or less. You’ll notice 3 of these are Italian. Italian wines are usually a safe bet at this price point for quality and flavour. A wealth of characterful, delicious and underappreciated wines comes from this Mediterranean country, locked in time. The south of Italy- Puglia, Abruzzo, Sicily etc provides many of these. The intense heat of the summer sun ripening the grapes fully, so the wines are far from mediocre.
Classico Dei Castelli Di Jesi Verdicchio, Italy. ASDA, (£5.75)
Verdicchio is a characterful white Italian variety that is found in La Marche region of Southern Italy. Despite the often scorching summer temperatures, it makes a lovely crisp, refreshing highly scented wine. Very elegant for the money. Delicate, fresh fragrance of green fruit and flowers with a hint of bitter almonds which is characteristic of the Verdicchio grape. The Classico wines come from hillier sites where the nights are cool, preserving freshness and flavour. Like many other Italian wines, often an absolute bargain as they aren’t fashionable. Brilliant with many a seafood dish.
Moscatel de Valencia, Spain. Sainsbury’s, (£5)
Like other Mediterranean products from Valencia, this wine has captured the essence of the Spanish sunshine. Made from Muscat, this is a sweet wine. It has aromas and flavours of fresh grapes, peaches, oranges and lemons, with a honeyed nose and a touch of Jasmine. However, despite being sweet- it is not cloying. With a background acidity cleansing the sugar at the end, this makes it light and surprisingly refreshing. An excellent alternative as an after dinner drink with desserts like apple pie, salty blue cheese or orange flavoured chocolate.
Extra Special Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy. ASDA, (£5)
Montepulciano grapes grown in Italy’s ‘Calf,’ the sunny Abruzzo region. This naturally flavourful variety is almost impossible to make weak, weedy wine from. A sophisticated, highly quaffable smooth velvety red. Bursting with cherries, black and dried fruits. Brilliant with hearty casseroles, mid week pizzas and tomato-based pasta dishes.
Venturer Series Primitivo, Italy. Aldi, (£4.99)
Hailing from Puglia, Italy’s ‘heel,’ this juicy Italian red wine is packed with flavours of dark cherries, blueberries and sweet spice. Primitivo is a relative of California’s Zinfandel- and Italians also make Rosé versions. This variety needs a hot climate to thrive. Gives rich, dark wines loaded with ripe fruit. It’s a great wine to accompany roasted meats and cheeses. We slurped it happily with our burgers.
Bordeaux Supérieur AC, France. Aldi, (£4.99)
Bordeaux isn’t all stuffy, expensive wine. The vast majority produced is at the reasonably priced end, it’s only a small few producers making very expensive products. This blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon makes for fruity aromas of raspberry and blackberry with sweet spice notes. A bit austere to drink by itself due to the acidity and tannin compared to warmer new world climates like Australia, America or Chile. However, it is great with food- especially hearty roasted meat dishes or a cheese board. Really opens up if you decant it or leave the bottle open a day or so.