Tag Archives: sainsburys

Can you taste the difference?

Would you buy this wine? It costs £7.99

This price is WELL above the average of around £4 per bottle in this country. If you are willing to spend double that amount there are only 2 main reasons:

  1. You are a “wine connoisseur” and know what you are buying and regularly spend this much
  2. You are buying for a special occasion; a party, a gift, a really special treat

I found it on the shelves of a local shop. Barossa Shiraz is world famous. Whether you know about the red earth, the climate, the issues of water shortages or anything else at all about the region, you have probably heard of “Barossa Shiraz”.

Now, you wouldn’t expect it to be cheap – generally speaking, if you’ve heard of the region (Chablis, Rioja, Bordeaux, …) the wine isn’t cheap, but it is Australia after all, not … FRANCE, that place where all good wines are really expensive. Anyway, do the French even make Shiraz?

2006? Should be good. Not too old. Time to check out some more clues.

What about this one, at the bottom?

St. Hallett? Many will not have heard about this producer, but there is actually a name on here that can be checked out. If you know anything about Barossa then the name of St. Hallett should ring bells. Old Block? Faith Shiraz? If you search for the name you’ll find this is a top producer with a great track record.

£7.99 for one of the best known names in the region? Cool!

If I bring this home to my husband or wife, or bring it to that dinner party on Saturday, they’ll be really impressed.

But wait! What’s that? At the top?


You want me to spend twice the national average on a bottle of wine, and when I bring it to the dinner party, despite it being a well liked grape, despite the well known region and the world-class producer, it says “Sainsbury’s” on the front label?

Erm …

  • You could say that if I say I wouldn’t buy it I’m being snobbish.
  • You could on the other hand, argue that if I’m spending this much money, a guarantee from a trusted brand like Sainsbury’s would encourage me to try it.
  • On the other hand, with all the choices available, do I want this name on there?
  • Or, are they using their buying power to get a great deal?

There is no easy answer, but these wines run all the way up to £12.99 for an Amarone and more and I am told that they are not easy to convince customers to buy (this is from the shop floor).

I know what I think, but what do you think? Premium wines (good ones at that), at reasonable prices, but constrained by the fact that it carries a non-premium label.

Would you buy it?

Kids must drink

A strange sight greeted me the other day in Sainsbury’s.

It might have been there a while, but I had not noticed. However, when I did, it struck me as quite odd, but relevant. It was well away from the wine aisle, and not even a gondola end promotion. It was in the chiller cabinet. The fresh juices to be precise.

I was picking up some apple juice for my daughter when out of the corner of my eye I spotted the word “Merlot”. I knew something wasn’t right as I had already glanced around the regular haunts for wine in this supermarket. On the eye level shelf in the chiller cabinet were two different plastic bottles of grape juice. One labelled “Chardonnay”, the other labelled “Merlot”. Apparently these are grape juices made from these varietals somewhere in “the vineyards of Italy”.

All of this was quite shocking.

First of all, we are advertising the grape varietal names most often associated with alcoholic dinks, namely wine, to the major consumers of grape juice – kids.

Secondly, I always assumed that grape juices could only be made from table grapes, not those destined for fermentation, as the former are sweet, juicy and less ‘complex’.

Is this a good thing? Well, I clearly remember growing up drinking “my wine” when my parents had theirs, so this is not new, although that was labelled simply as “Welch’s grape juice” (I still remember this – odd). It also means, in theory, that grape growers in certain areas have a new potential outlet for grapes that cannot be sold as wine, but that I would need to research more as I still can’t quite believe this is a simple case of not fermenting the grapes.

In Spain, younger drinkers do like their glass of “mosto” (must) so I guess this is our equivalent, even if ours has to be packaged, shipped, branded and sold for a lot more.

It does indicate, though, that these grape varietals have now been so ingrained in our national consciousness that they can be used for products that are not wine.

Varietal labelling has come a long way in 30 years.