You may have seen BBC Watchdog programme in which Oz Clarke exposed how the supermarkets take us for fools when it comes to buying wine on offer. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Oz and share his concerns about supermarkets. It’s something that I have been concerned about for years and have written about previously. It’s also well known in the trade. Oz’s exposé highlighted the fact that discounted wines are rarely a bargain. Why? Because their prices are artificially inflated so that when they are put on ‘Half Price’ that’s their real price. What’s more they aren’t even worth that.
According to Oz around 60% of the wine sold in supermarkets is offered at half price or at a deal and these just aren’t genuine offers. With Britain drinking 1 ½ billion bottles of wine last year it’s staggering to think that 9 out of 10 of those bottles were bought at a supermarket. Most of these were on offer and if you bought one, you were done.
The programme revealed that many of these wines are on offer for a long time (some for up to 5 months of the year) and that the only way for supermarkets to make a profit out of these wines ‘on offer’ is if the wines were never worth more than £5 in the first place.
Oz raised the question of what the wines were really worth. For example Sainsburys offered a bottle of Kumala Zenith red wine at £5 for 6 months, it’s original price was £10. Was it worth £10 in the first place? No. Was it worth £5? No. The programme showed that after accounting for duty, VAT, logistics, retailer margin and other costs a £5 bottle of wine only has 20p worth of wine in it!
The big message in this is to trade up and use your independent wine merchant. Independent wine merchants not only offer proper value for money but you’ll learn a lot more about the wine you are buying. We don’t buy in bulk; we hunt out our wines from smaller producers who fall under the radar of the big retailers, we spend time tasting and trialing the wines, we visit the wineries and wine makers, we have smaller margins, we do the hard work and we rely on our reputations and the goodwill of our customers. In short, we care! If we didn’t we’d soon be out of business.
It’s a shame that more wines from independent wine merchants aren’t reviewed in the press. Too often you’ll see supermarket wines being reviewed. Why? Because we’re told that’s what most of the public want (don’t forget that most wines are bought at supermarkets!). But most of the public are being hoodwinked by these retailing giants. Isn’t it time for a change? Only you can make it happen. Spread the word!