In praise of supermarket wine

Article date: 6 March 2015

Cliffhanger Mosel Riesling from Tesco

I recently did a wine and cheese tasting at my work (yes I have a day job). I chose four wines from Tesco – that was the easy part (and made especially easy with the Supermarketwine app) – a colleague was given the harder of task of matching them to cheeses (a very good job he did too). In choosing two reds and two whites, my reasoning was clear. I wanted to show there is variety on offer at most supermarkets. I could have gone to Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Coop or Aldi and come back with four interesting wines. Tesco was closest, so Tesco it was.

I chose wines my colleagues might not have heard of or considered buying. That meant grape varieties they hadn’t tried or regions they’d never have thought of before. First up Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet (£7.99). A grape and region most had never come across. Next was a Mosel Riesling (Cliffhanger £9.99), off-dry and lowish alcohol. A classic grape and region, but one avoided by a lot of people. As soon as one colleague looked at it, he shook his head. ‘I don’t like riesling. Far too sickly for me’. I knew he’d change his mind when he tried it. Sure enough he was bowled over by it. It was voted best of the bunch by all.

The two reds were in the same vain. First up was Primarius (£8.99) made from a classic grape, Pinot Noir, but from an unexpected place, Oregon in the United States. It didn’t fare as well as the Tesco Finest Teroldego (£7.99) – an Italian red no one had come across before. But the point had been made. If you look beyond the ubiquitous bottles of Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, you will find variety and value.

It may well be the case that independent wine merchants have more select wines, but supermarket wine buyers have done a very good job in recent years extending and diversifying their ranges. You don’t have to plump for the half price offers. There is choice and there is value. Tesco may be the largest seller of wine in the world, but it has plenty of unusual, interesting, good value wines. And the same goes for the other big supermarkets.

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