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Supermarket Wine Tricks and How To Get A Good Deal

kYou 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.

halfThe 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!

half 2Furthermore the programme revealed that if you spend £7.50 you only get £1.66 worth of wine, spend £10 and it’s £3.13 and if you spend £15 and you get £6.04.

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.

hlaf whiteIt’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!

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4 Responses to Supermarket Wine Tricks and How To Get A Good Deal

  1. zelda sydney says:

    Hi Nick,
    Here’s a bit of ‘schadenfreude’ and I’ll cop to it: Here in British Columbia, Canada, we suffer a government-imposed 125% markup on every bottle of wine (and on all booze, I believe, but don’t quote me on it, I’m no bean counter), then add profit margins as well. That the government physically and fiscally controls every ml and penny of alcohol is a hangover of the Prohibition era.

    We’ve long been jealous of regions where Prohibition laws never existed, and where you all drink lovely wines at reasonable prices that you bring unfettered across international borders. We’ve long heard about your supermarket (what? wine sold in supermarkets?!) deals (what? DEALS?!). So, I’m surprised and just a wee and guiltily bit ‘schadenfreudish’ at the consumer rip-off it seems you’re suffering.

    Cheers and great post as usual,

    • Nick says:

      Hi Zelda :-) OUCH that’s a whopping big mark up! It’s a shame as it makes good wines inaccessible to folks who’d like to try them.

      Cheers Nick

  2. Des says:

    100% agree. The wine merchant will seek out the value for money wines the supermarkets will never find. The problem is the purchasing power of the large supermarkets totally distorts the market.