Are supermarket wine deals any good?

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We drink 1.7 billion bottles of wine in the UK every year.

It's become the nation's favourite tipple and is an industry worth £6 billion annually.

More than half of bottles that are bought in supermarkets are on some sort of special offer.

But are those deals any good? Rip Off Britain: Food investigated.

How can you navigate through the offers?

Frazer Thompson of Truckledown vineyard in Kent thinks it's hard for consumers to choose these days.

"It's a hugely complicated industry with different grapes, regions and styles of wine...actually the price is your best indicator," he says.

He recommends avoiding the cheapest wines, the prices of which are mostly made up of tax, transport and retail costs. Instead he thinks it's better to spend £10 a bottle so you are paying more for the grapes and the wine-making itself.

"If you buy a wine for £3.99, you've got grapes in there that are worth about tuppence" he adds.

Are you really getting a bargain?

Getting value

  • Look for offers on wines you know you enjoy
  • Supermarket own brand wines can offer good value
  • Check the back label. These days they offer a lot of useful info including sweetness, dryness and alcohol content
  • Champagne is cheaper around festive events like Christmas or Mother's Day
  • Pour young, red wines into a glass jug first to allow to them to breathe. It will soften the taste and improve the fruitiness

Neil Phillips. The Wine Tipster

Jamie Goode, wine writer and expert, went undercover for Rip Off Britain: Food, in some of the UK's biggest supermarkets.

While he did find some good offers, the value of other deals was less clear.

He found a bottle of Bordeaux wine on sale for £11.29 but it had been on special offer five times in the past year. Its price kept changing from £14.99 to £7.99, making it hard to gauge its true value.

Jamie suspects some wines are sold at inflated prices so stores can discount them later - making them look like a bargain.

So what can you do?

If a special offer looks good, compare it to the average price of that wine over the course of the year.

Comparison websites can give you that information and should help you get a better idea of whether a deal is decent or not.

How do supermarkets price their wine?

Supermarket chains put a lot of effort into their wines and their buyers usually select a decent range. The Rip Off Britain: Food team asked the leading supermarkets about the way they price their wine.

Sainsburys said it works hard "to keep prices down and offer genuine prices reductions and promotions. Wine prices are dependent on a number of factors including harvest yields, transport costs and duties as well as movements in global demand and currencies, so can fluctuate because of one or several of these over a year."

Tesco said: "As the UK's largest seller of wine…it takes its responsibility to their customers very seriously. But those customers repeatedly say they are satisfied with both the quality and value for money."

Asda said it has set up a new team "to look at all aspects of its pricing and challenge pricing practises in store" and said it "would never deliberately mislead its customers and its aim is always to offer the lowest prices for the longest".

Rip Off Britain: Food series is broadcast on BBC One, Mon-Friday at 1100-1145.

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