A cheap bottle of plonk is great but if you spend a few more quid—

If you want to spend a fiver or less on wine, go to Tesco. I reckon it currently has the most impressive range at this price – its Bulgarian Merlot 2018 (13.5%), for instance, is £4.50 and all the red you’ll ever need for a party. But when you look at how wine is taxed, spending more can bring rich rewards.

For your five quid bottle, duty is fixed at £2.23 plus VAT (£2.68). Then add shipping, margin, marketing, labelling and sundry other costs. There’s not much left on the liquid itself. By spending about seven quid, you could proportionately be directing around five times more to the actual wine. That’s a big boost.

And between £10 and £15 the quality can really erupt. If you fancy treating yourself, I warmly recommend online specialists like The Wine Society – by selecting one terrific bottle instead of two good ones, you could deliver seriously great taste.


Viñalba Mendoza Malbec 2017 (14.5%) £10 Morrisons. A mulberry depth charge with sparks of spice. Terrific.

Brumale Nobile Di Montepulciano 2015 (14%) £12 Tesco. Earthy, rich, powerful red that’s perfect to pair with a meaty roast.

Speziale Marsigliana Nera Santa Venere 2018 (12%)  £12.50 The Wine Society. Scrumptious as the fruitiest of strawberries, move fast, low stock!

Taste the Difference Chartreuse de Bonpas 2018 (14%) £15 Sainsbury’s. Scented, herby and floral with generous richness, this is ace.


Château Lamothe-Bergeron 2012 (12.5%) £14 Co-Op. Perfectly mature silky Bordeaux that’s great with game or a slice of mature cheddar.

This column was originally published in EVENT Magazine, Mail on Sunday, 10th Nov 2019