With £10 as the budget, here are some of the best buys on the shelves.
Booths is still in the midst of its 25 per cent off deal when you buy three bottles of any of the wines in its offer selection. This is the kind of deal to look for since the wines are still being sold at their regular price – they just go down in price with a bulk buy.
Rather than take the saving, it is always worth trying new wines and trading up to get better flavours, so head for the stylish Jadot Macon Blanc Villages 2018 down from £12 to £9 on the mix-three deal. It has ripe pear fruit and nutty, toasty oat complexity. Perfect with a Sunday lunch, especially with fish or chicken.
The Douro in Portugal is the source of port and many fabulous red table wines, but white table wines are thin on the ground. The beautiful estate of Quinta de la Rosa makes some delicious whites and the one available from Booths is well worth a taste. Made from a mix of grapes such as Viosinho, Rabigato and Gouveio that would normally go into white port, they produce a light, floral-edged wine, with notes of peach and touches of spice. Lightly structured, this is a wine to go with fish and salads, especially if there are olives on the plate. Quinta de la Rosa Branco is down from £11.75 to £8.81 on a mix-three deal.
It is always worth wandering through the Waitrose range of wines, either in the shop or on the website.
It often discounts a chunk of its range by 20 or 25 per cent, with the added benefit that you can buy a single bottle, although it is always a good idea to stock up with more. This month’s offers end on March 10 so there is time to snap up a bottle or two of Paul Mas Viognier Sauvignon Blanc 2018, currently down from £8.99 to £6.74. This manages to blend the soft apricot fruit of the Viognier grape with crisp, citrus flavours of Sauvignon Blanc. This wine makes a terrific springtime aperitif. Also good is the delicious, apricot-scented flavours of Tres Mares Albariño from the cool Val do Salnes in Rías Baixas in Spain, now down from £9.99 to £7.99. This is a real spring-into-summer wine, perfect with salads and seafood.
If you haven’t discovered the Fiano grape yet then pick up a bottle of Paolo Leo Fiano del Salento, down at Waitrose from £9.99 to £7.99. The Fiano grape was once on the edge of extinction but now it has been replanted and its glorious almondy, peachy, greengage notes, with a fabulous rounded mouthfeel, provide the ideal partner for fish, salads and even cold roast meats and stir-fries. Fiano is the grape that anyone interested in Italian white wine should drink, instead of Pinot Grigio, but there just isn’t enough to go round.
Morrisons rarely knocks a substantial 25 per cent off its prices, preferring to stick to a 50p or £1 reduction, but even so, because its full prices are already extremely competitive, the reduction is well worth having. Morrisons has concentrated on its own-label wines in recent years, bringing quality under its own brand, which trims prices and provides terrific value for money.
From Italy, Morrisons “The Best” Soave is down just 50p, from £6.50 to £6, but even at its full price, the flavours are bright with floral and citrus notes with a touch of ripe pear on the palate. From Spain, “The Best” Rueda, Canto Real, beats several more expensive wines with its crisp, zesty flavours, melon fruit and fennel notes. Morrisons “The Best” Chardonnay, down from £8.75 to £6.50 until March 10, comes from the cool-climate, high altitude Uco Valley in Argentina and brings together ripe, rounded, melon fruit flavours, shot through with hints of lemon and pink grapefruit.
Compared with the long shelves and huge variety at most supermarkets, the Marks & Spencer range is somewhat limited but each wine has earned its place for its unique flavours and quality.
Last year, M&S decided to keep most of its prices constant, and so avoid the up and down nature of offers. This means that the buyers can concentrate on offering good everyday prices, and it must have cleared out a whole raft of marketing men who spent their days on calculators. Instead of a wide range of offers, M&S now reduces prices on just a few lines and the wines that are about to disappear from the range.
Its next set of offers starts next Tuesday and lasts until March 23, and I find it is always worth getting there in the first few days to make sure there is still some stock left. I don’t imagine that the bright, zippy, herbaceous flavours of Helderberg Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2019 from South Africa (£9, down to £8) are about to disappear from the shelves, but it is worth picking up a bottle when you see it. For everyday drinking, the Garganega Pinot Grigio blend, from the Veneto region of Italy, is well worth its full price of £7, but there is a £1 reduction during the offer period.
With a Budget just on the horizon, it is predicted that wine duty will go up, so it is definitely worth shopping around now for the best buys.