Supermarket malaise?

No matter how much you wish to support the local economy the necessities of life dictate Supermarket shopping is inevitable, but rather than fill the coffers of any single faceless corporation I favour a rotation system for the grocery shop, rarely returning to the same store within a month. However, while I’ll take advantage of the BOGOFs and Rollbacks for groceries I’m finding it harder to find things that pique my curiosity for wine. This was brought home after yesterday’s traipse around a certain Walmart-owned operation where, after staring at the rows of the usual suspects in the wine aisle, I decided I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything…again (I couldn’t actually recall when I last picked up vino from the aforementioned establishment).

With my curiosity duly piqued I consulted my wine list and looked at the breakdown of purchases to see exactly how much wine I have been buying – as it’s an Excel spreadsheet then that’s a lot easier than you may think!

In the past 12 months I’ve acquired 120 bottles of wine (16 were for a NEWTS tasting, so I’ll ignore those from the breakdown, leaving 104). 8 of these were bought while travelling, so that leaves 96 wines purchased within the region – enough to get a decent percentage breakdown.

Surprisingly (for me at least) only 26 wines were from local independents, with 14 from Majestic and another 19 from warehouse stores Costco and Makro.
Trolley WineThat leaves 37 bottles, or 35.6%, from supermarket shopping – averaging 3 a month. That in itself is telling, as I typically visit a supermarket 3-4 times a month and occasionally pick up multiple bottles, meaning on plenty of occasions I can walk past the wine section and not be tempted.

Breaking down the last 37;

  • Coop: 13 (Average price £8.45. Not that surprising really, the local Coop is the only supermarket in my home town so I often go in during the week for “top up” purchases, plus it is renowned for frequent bin-end reductions)
  • Tesco: 8 (averaging £12.96, but strangely only one Tim Adams offering)
  • Aldi: 7 (Average price £15.84, mostly from their Christmas “Fine Wine” promotion last year)
  • Waitrose: 3 (average price £10.24)
  • Morrisons: 5 (average price £13.09, boosted by a 1996 Port)
  • Lidl: 1 (a relatively tasty Morellino di Scansano for £5.99)

As for the absent names;

  • M&S missed out by only a couple of weeks, with my last purchase in August 2012 with the very tasty Château Ksara 2009 Clos St. Alphonse at £9.49
  • ASDA was January 2012 with their Extra Special (Katnook Estate) 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon at £8.48
  • Sainsburys has to go back to 2011 for the Dr. Loosen 2009 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett at £11.99

Since my average spend on wines from the supermarkets comes to £11.53 a bottle I’m pushing the boat out when it comes to the average UK consumer who only spends £5 a bottle.

If you look at what I’m actually buying the 5 most expensive wines were;

  • AldiOffley 30 year old Tawny Port. £29.95. Aldi
  • Warre’s 1996 Quinta da Cavadinha Port. £21.49. Morrisons
  • Scala Dei 2006 Cartoixa. £19.99. Tesco
  • Château Marquis d’Alesme 2004 Becker Margaux. £17.99. Aldi
  • Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2000. £17.99. Aldi

At the other end of the scale the cheapest 5 were;

  • 2011 Tavel Rose. £4.99. Aldi
  • Medici Riccardi 2010 Morellino di Scansano. £5.99. Lidl
  • Maycas del Limarí 2009 Syrah Reserva. £5.99. Coop
  • Montes 2011 Malbec Reserva. £5.99. Coop
  • Domaine Mayole 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah. £5.99. Waitrose

So what does this self-indulgent post actually tell me (other than that I’m probably the only one still reading it by this point!).

  1. I need to get into Marks & Spencers more. Their wine selection is undeniably good but I’ve not purchased a single bottle from them in over a year.
  2. I need to but more Tim Adams wines when I’m in Tesco next
  3. I should really look harder in the wine section at Sainsbury’s as I can’t believe there’s nothing there to interest me
  4. I’ve given up on ASDA. Sorry, but yesterday’s search of the racks was just depressing, especially with all the focus on sub £6 bottles
  5. When I come to do this again next year I’d like to see more purchases from the local Independents compared to the main supermarkets – 26 is embarrassing (sorry Alastair, Claire & Mo, Ben, Andrew & Jo, Paddy, Michael, Irwin, Geoff, Paul & Alan, Tony and Marta ….hangs head in shame).

I was also reminded of the series of posts I did over 5 years ago now for Reign of Terroir on “Wine Buying in the UK“. Re-reading those posts tonight I was surprised that quite a lot of the comments still apply (if you do have a read then remember I was relatively new both to wine and blogging at that time!).


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