Wine Buying - Part 2

Wine Buying - Part 2

12th Apr 2010

Our top tips for choosing the best value bottles.

Look for bargains. We know that sounds incredibly obvious but often people are drawn to ‘big name’ wines like Cloudy Bay for example, despite their cost. Trust us; there are better value wines out there!

Bargains are sometimes wines that were over-ordered and didn’t sell. Wine merchants call these wines ‘Bin Ends’. Bin End wines are often very good; it’s just that people didn’t recognise them, and they now have to be sold to clear shelf space. The same applies to the sales at mail order merchants. Often, in an excess of enthusiasm, they buy large quantities of a wine that is excellent. They print up a list which says, ‘try this wine. It is outstanding value’. But if people don’t know the name, or the region, or the grape variety, they might still be suspicious.


We tasted some Portuguese wine from a local merchant last month. It was fantastic, and a very reasonable price. People should have been queuing up. Yet nobody was buying it – it just could not compete with the more established brand names and regions out there. Bin End wines such as these can offer superb value and are often worth seeking out.       


Another avenue of wine buying to explore, albeit with caution, is the Wine Club. There are a multitude of online and magazine wine clubs and some are very good. The Sunday Times run quite a good one. What we don’t advise are those offers you see in the papers saying ‘Amazing bargain! A case of wine worth £100 for only £59.99. Our fabulous introductory offer…etc’. Don’t trust them! They buy up the production of whole estates, vast amounts of generally low quality wine, which they can then sell off at apparently very low prices. As they nominate the ‘list’ prices themselves, the assertion that you are getting a £100 worth of wine is meaningless.


It’s also important to remember that although regions like Rioja, Chablis and Saint Emilion are celebrated names in the wine world, not all the wine produced in these regions is up to scratch. In fact, some districts (Chablis and Côtes du Rhône are examples) have pretty lax rules and some awful wine is sold under those names. Supermarkets often sell wines under the same names, which we suggest you avoid.  However they do also sell more obscure wines, and those can be very good value, because your buying what is in the bottle, not into an established brand.


And finally:


Our top tips on wine buying


1.)   Establish a relationship with a good local wine merchant. They should soon learn your tastes and offer you advice and deals;


2.)   Look for Bargains: these so called Bin Ends may be being pushed simply because few consumers recognise the wine;


3.)   Don’t avoid unfamiliar names and wine-making areas, they can often provide excellent value;


4.)   Avoid advertisements that proclaim ‘astounding bargains’;


5.)   Don’t automatically trust ‘big name’ wines – the Cloudy Bays of this world.





Your comments

To post your comment on this story, email us at

promo image