After years of being overwhelmed with choice in the wine aisles and inundated with wine offers, it’s strange suddenly to be in a situation where it can be hard to lay your hands on a decent, well-priced bottle. Although many independents are still offering a free local delivery service, I’m conscious that many of you don’t live in an area that has one, and that budgets may well be too tight to buy a whole case (though you could always share with neighbours).
Which is not to say that supermarkets are easy right now, what with limits on the number of bottles you can buy and a shrinking range. And have you noticed that special offers are thinner on the ground, too? The kind of prices I used to see at a tasting and think: “Well, that’s clearly designed to be discounted”, are now becoming the norm. (Tesco’s rather attractive Finest English White being a case in point – while it’s perfectly OK at the £9-odd I suspect you’d pay for it if it was on offer, at £12 it’s distinctly toppy.) I get that supermarkets, like other businesses, are encountering extra costs right now, but they’re some of the few companies that must be doing reasonably well out of the current crisis. I doubt we’ll see any of those 25%-off six bottles any time soon, but who knows? Nothing is certain in these uncertain times.
Aldi and Lidl win out for some of the cheapest buys around, although almost certainly anything under a fiver will have been raided. That said, it’s well worth looking out for Aldi’s three Grapevine wines, which are all under £4, of which I think the cabernet sauvignon from Spain’s La Mancha (£3.79, 12.5%), which shows amazingly good cabernet character for the price, is the best.
Lidl is running one of its periodic Wine Tour promotions – I mentioned the moscato last week – but the quality of its basic range, which includes the well-priced pecorino below (a wine, not just a cheese), has improved, too.
Mainly, however, it’s a question of keeping your eyes open, rather than setting out with a particular wine in mind. I spotted (and seized) the last bottle of Davida (14%), a glorious, pretty well natural garnacha from Spain’s Navarra region that has the added advantage of having no added sulphites, for £8 in my local Co-op the other day. Hopefully, they’ll have restocked by now. Grab a bottle or three, if you can.
Four wines and a gin to help you through lockdown
Botte Conti Pecorino 2018 Tierre di Chieti
£5.25 Lidl, 12%. Bright, crisp, lemony Italian white: a good stand-in for pinot grigio or alternative to sauvignon blanc.
Estevez Chilean Carignan 2019
£4.99 Aldi, 12.5%. Estevez is the new name for Aldi’s Chilean range, and this vibrant, gutsy red, made from humble carignan, is a brilliant buy.
Le Rosé de Balthazar 2018 Pays d’Oc
£7.99 Waitrose, 12.5%. Handsomely packaged, appealingly fresh and fruity, and cheaper than many Provençal rosés.
The Melodist London Dry Gin
£20 Tesco, 40%. An appealingly citrussy gin flavoured with green tea and lemongrass, as well as the more common botanicals. Relatively pricey for a supermarket, but great value for a premium gin.