Supermarkets face more criticism for "half-price" wine

Article date: 20 August 2006

Criticism of half-price wines is mounting. This week, Joanna Simon, wine critic of the Sunday Times, has waded into the debate.

If a wine is on a supermarket promotion at £3.99, down from £7.99, does that mean you are getting an amazing bargain? It ought to, but in practice it almost always means that the wine isn’t worth anything like £7.99. If it were not being endlessly discounted — or never discounted — its price almost certainly would not be much more than four quid.

Read Joanna Simon’s article in the Sunday Times


  1. des kilfeather says:

    Is there no end to the duplicity of the supermarkets? I cannot understand why Tesco (and other supermarket) staff participate in the cynical abuse of customers. Yesterday I purchased 2 bottles of half price Calloway Crossing Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz from Tesco. Not bad I thought for a “full bodied smooth red” from Aussie. And at £3.50’ish from £7 a bit of a snip; more fool me!

    On reading the small print on the back of the label:
    “Bottled by W1743 AT CH2 4LF UK for TESCO” I was totally confused.

    Does this mean that Tesco has a Thames river MI5’esque secret service team importing gluts of wine in dirty converted oil tankers to be bottled by hand in rat infested warehouses by unfortunate minimum wagers also specially imported? Why else would Tesco try to cover up the fact this this is a Tesco own label wine? Why do they need to lie about it, or at least be less than fortright about the original and nature of production of this bottle of wine? Who is W1743?

    In a quote from an article below, obtained from this website Jane MacQuitty reviewed the wine as a half price offer due to end in July, but I purchased the wine under a half price special offer yesterday and we are now in October. Does Tesco have a different calendar to the rest of us? It would be intresting to see how cynically Tesco would respond to the question, I guess they would say something like, we reduced it for 24 hours to meet the statutory requirement, or some other tosh.

    Jane obviously missed the small print, who would’nt. I would agree with her that it could be purchased in bulk but for use “on the barbeque”.

    From Times Online
    July 1, 2006
    Star buys 01.07.06
    By Jane MacQuitty
    2005 Calloway Crossing Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, Tesco, down to £3.49 until July 18. Again, you would not expect to pay under £4 for an Aussie red of this quality, so buy this fat, dusky, berry fruit-charged, 14 per cent alcohol red in bulk for barbecues.

    8 October 2007
  2. Mushyman says:

    I have just found this site having done a search on CH2 4LF as it is a postcode quite local to me. I found it on a bottle of Wolf Blass Eaglehawk Rose wine. It seems that W1743 is a glass/bottle company based in Elton, Cheshire, I am more concerned with the fact that my south east Austrailian wine was PRODUCED in Middlesex.

    12 September 2009
  3. David Brian Cooper says:

    Like many other people I am amazed at the number of TESCO wines bottled in the UK. There seems to be little information as to where, who and when wine becomes bottled at W1743. Or some other anonymous location. What are they (the supermarkets) trying to hide!!!
    Actually some of these wines are quite drinkable, so why the intrigue?

    16 September 2009
  4. Brian Binns says:

    Wines have been imported in bulk to the UK and bottled here for well over 20 years so there is nothing new here. The Co-op was doing it first.
    The wines are just the same as if they were bottled in the country of origin. The importer saves costs in shipping glass which is heavy so this benefits the consumer. Wine companies also argue that they are reducing their carbon footprint by not shipping millions of tonnes of glass around the world every year.
    Only the basic wines are shipped in bulk and bottled so. If you pay more you will get a wine bottled at source and a better wine to boot.
    Incidentally, some wines are shipped in bulk to Germany, bottled there and then transported to the UK.
    Check the labels on wines in Aldi.

    26 November 2009
  5. Colin Miles says:

    I have two offerings from Tesco apparently bottled at W1743. One is an Oz Shiraz labelled Yaldara Estate and, more surprisingly, a Reserva Cab Sauv, Isla Negra from Chile. They were bottled five days apart. To be honest (?) both are very pleasant drinks.

    24 May 2010
  6. James Bowles says:

    It seems that W1743 is not just confined to Tesco. I have just bought a lovely bottle of Namaqua 2009 Reserve Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 14.5% from Morrisons reduced to £4.50 from £8.99. The importer is listed as Raisin Social based down in Surrey, however it is also shown as being bottled by W1743 at CH2 4LF. Quite Surprised. James Bowles, Ilkley, Yorkshire

    17 August 2010
  7. John says:

    As Brian points out this is common practice with cheaper wines – shipping them in bulk and bottled in the UK saves a huge amount on transportation costs, damages, theft in transit etc. It is no different to bakers sourcing tropical ingredients abroad and creating a cake in the UK (not many raisins grow in the UK for Xmas puddings).

    The wine is made in the country of origin by the experts and shipped in a matter of days to be bottled. The bottling company do not add or remove anything so the contents are essentially the same as being bottled at source.

    15 March 2011
  8. John Booth says:

    I notice John says on 15/03/11 that nothing is added or removed from the wine. Has he been there?

    3 April 2011
  9. Chas says:

    Stunning Isla Negra a’la Asda. Don’t care, tastes great. Keep doing it, I’m not a wine snob, all I worry about is taste and price. £10 for 3
    Rock on Chester CH2

    29 July 2011
  10. Des Kilfeather says:

    I am very interested to see that my original 2007 comments still appear in Google searches in 2011 and a comment from Chas in 2011; the power of the Internet is to be admired, at least usually. I am still dumbfounded at the power the supermarkets wield and the fact that supermarket employees themselves are sometimes complicit in deluding consumers. But I suppose people need jobs and they feel it is probably not advisable to bite the hand that feeds them. Things might change one day. This link is to my painting that is about abuse of power and refers specifically to supermarkets, my input to the debate.

    7 December 2011
  11. chrisd says:

    Hi just joined this discussion late. The process is that the wines are shipped in bulk containers, with a layer of inate gas blanketing the wine to prevent oxidisation (ever left a wine exposed to the air for a couple of days?). In principle this does not change the character of the wine, however I personally would choose a wine bottled at the vineyard or locality than shipped and bottled in the UK. It is a quality indicator for sure as better producers would not do this. As far as the price goes we pay so much in tax (£1.82 a bottle) for imported wine that buyers will inevitably seek to get wines at lower prices. We as consumers are to blame also as we have driven prices so low that this has come about.

    Nevertheless, if you enjoy the wine and the price appeals then carry on drinking it! As your tates develop you will inevitably discover more exciting wines in the future.

    17 January 2012
  12. Peter Jacksh*t says:

    I think it is unethical to sell incredibly cheap wine and pretend at the same time that it comes a vineyard that doesn’t even exist. If your wine says it comes from a dormant company called PLB WINES LIMITED or says it was bottled by W1743 – be alert and STAY WELL clear as it is cheap plonk!!!

    21 June 2013
  13. Patrick London says:

    I’ve ordered some “half price” “New Zealand Old Renwick Road sauvignon blanc” wine from Tesco with this producer listed on the back. This is not a New Zealand wine brand so is presumably a fake brand invented by Tesco. I’m curious to who makes this wine – it may well come from elsewhere in nz or be mixed with foreign brands of wine. There seems to be very little transparency when it comes to Tesco.

    4 July 2013
  14. Bobh says:

    And I just shared a bottle of tasty Margaret River SBS blend 2010 from Waitrose. But… that pesky W1743 is right there on the label. I don’t like subterfuge, so I will steer clear even though I liked it. Let’s be honest with wine labelling. If it’s bottled in the UK say it loudly. Don’t hide it behind a postcode.

    5 July 2013
  15. Boris the Great says:

    I came here googling the postcode on a bottle of Gallo wine. The company doing the bottling is Cobevco

    Doesn’t bother me.

    5 August 2013
  16. Rascal Rob says:

    This is a conundrum. The wine exporters prefer to state that they ship in bulk for environmental reasons which are undeniable. Handily it also saves saves them much cash. Thing is, if it’s all good for the consumer why print it in the smallest writing there is and why so little comment from the wine tasters. The truth is, wine sluggers, is that they’re taking a punt and seeing if they can get away with it. If you feel lousy after drinking wine, you reckon you have a hangover, right? Truth is, it’s probably the cocktail of chemicals in your drink. If wine isn’t bottled at source the obligation for any integrity for the wine passes to the retailer as it’s already sold. They can add what they like, sulphates, tartrazine, colouring, anything. A wine box has to have more sulphates added as there’s a degree of ingress of air. Bottling the wine off the estate requires the same plus a whole lot more. Ask yourself, why are the wine experts so reticent on this and so willing to talk on other aspects. You are being conned. Buy Chilean, Spanish or French who have no truck with it. Oh and by the way, guess which countries have the least wine regulation. You got it.

    2 December 2013
  17. malachy mcanespie says:

    Recent purchase of Jacobs Creek Reisling purchased from Makro had a watered down taste -not as good as that bottled elsewhere…

    27 January 2014
  18. Bob says:

    I’ve just purchased a bottle of Cape Red from Asda with the same (W1743 CH2 4LF) Markings on the Label. Cost £3.50, not bad but does taste watered down.

    I usually go for a good Australian Shiraz, but as my Australian relative ripped into me about us ‘Poms’ drinking the crap they export I decided to try something different, big mistake.

    Aldi does some good wines at a fair price, will be sticking with them from now on.

    18 May 2014
  19. Tony p says:

    Can we have t.v. Watchdog watch from source to shelf.It may answer a lot of our questions.

    14 June 2014
  20. Grahame says:

    Just had a nice “Petit Verdot” from South Australia via Sainsbury’s bottled by W1743 at CH2 4LF. So looks like Sainsbury’s have joined the scheme!

    12 August 2014
  21. Andrew Cookson says:

    Wine of Chile imported by and bottled for W1259, UK by W1743 at CH2 4LF, UK. Distributed by Sainsbury’s.
    Sounds like far too criptic to be any good.

    9 October 2014
  22. Richard Adams says:

    My problem with this is really the pricing.

    Tesco’s Wairau Cove Sauvignon Blanc is a decent , bulk wine. At one time they briefly had it on 3 for £10, at which price point I happily fill my boots. At other times I find it priced nearer £8, and I’ve seen it above £10 which I’m not prepared to pay for it, knowing its provenance.

    How much is it worth? How much am I prepared to pay for it? Those who buy wine based upon price don’t have a chance in this wild market, and I suppose this comment applies equally to chateau or estate-bottled wine.

    I think what we’d all like to see is clearer labelling and, perhaps, some of the price saving resulting from not having to ship glass actually being demonstrably passed to the wine buyer, rather than hidden in code on the label.

    23 February 2016
  23. k e says:

    These wines do actually come from where it says on the label, its cheaper than shipping thousands of glass bottles. The wine is tested and put through tasting, maybe chemicals are then added then bottled and shipped back out again!

    17 March 2016
  24. Nosh#tcustomer says:

    I have read that Supermarket wines in the UK are not 100% wine. They have had water sugar and carcinogenic chemicals added. ItIts a bloody diabolical scam. Have you ever tasted a real wine recently. It’s nothing like the shite they sell in Tesco, Sainsbury, and Asda etc. You are poisoning yourself drinking it. Why don’t we fight these bastards and stop buying it from them. Brew your own it’s so much nicer and safer

    24 April 2016
  25. Scott says:

    Wine has been shipped in bulk for years and the fact that W1743 aka Quinn Glass, is bottling it is nothing to worry about. It’s a state of the art glass recycling and bottling plant and works with many bottled wine and beer brands and is a meticulously clean worksite. The benefits to all parties in this form of distribution are great, lower carbon emissions, good quality wines at a good price and employment for locals.
    However, if the thought of buying your wines with such huge discounts causes you to worry about the supply and how it’s made maybe you should try making your own. I have made wine the traditional way in the past and recently I challenged myself to make a comparison to a Gallo wine because their wine always looks, tastes and drinks the same no matter how old it is. Making identical wines every year is not easy unless you’re making it from a syrup juice where colour, texture, sweetness and depth can be controlled. So I started a process using jarred jam as my control syrup and it works. It’s simple effective and produces a 750ml bottle of 10-15%abv each time at a cost of 67-85p depending of the cost of the original jam.

    14 March 2019
  26. Joe Brett says:

    OK I understand that W1743 is the bottling plant number in the UK. Is this an official number ? Is there a list of plant numbers ? Who gives them ?

    6 April 2019

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