Get more bang for your buck with Matthew Boucher from Thirsty’s top tipple tips
There are some great bargains to be had around this time of year with all the bin-end goodies going at cut price, but of course, it pays to buy smart all year round. Be savvy about your selections and you can keep yourself in the finest wines without breaking the bank.
My first shopping tip would be to look for the grape you like, but from a less expensive region. For example if you like pinot noir from Burgundy, which can be very expensive, consider where else it grows and compare pricing – you might be surprised. For instance, a high-cost-of-production country, such as Germany, can be cheaper than Burgundy.
Next, consider the range of wines made by the same producer. If there is a choice of an ‘entry-level’ wine, a mid-priced wine and a flagship wine, does the price differential warrant you paying a premium? Sometimes, if the producer is good the basic wine can be enough.
Thirdly, think about currency – a big topic of debate as we embark upon Brexit (whatever this turns out to be). The strength of the pound dictates the price we buy our wine at: lower cost currencies, such as the South African Rand, are going to mean cheaper wine. Should you consider buying English wine or only drink beer?
“Buy the best Bordeaux in the ‘less good’ years”
Something else to think about is that if you’re buying ‘fine’ wine ie. (possibly) the best Bordeaux, consider buying it in the ‘less good’ years. The wines are likely to be as good as the producer could possibly make, which will not be so bad as for them to lose their reputation. Don’t do this if you are buying for investment purposes only.
And finally, ask yourself the following: what are the most unfashionable wines and why? Wines like muscadet and beaujolais are excellent, but just a little bit unloved or unfashionable at the moment. All the more reason to capitalise and stock up while they’re nice and reasonably priced!
If you pop down to Thirsty this month you can get yourself some great discounts – even if you missed out on our bin-end goodies. Pop in with a copy of February’s Cambridge Edition (containing this very column) and we’ll honour the bin-end price for you on these beauties!
2015 pinot grigio, Voluta was £10, now £8.20. A delicate, light fridge-filler. Keep one handy just in case the neighbour drops by.
2014 fleurie, Manoir du Carra was £15.80, now £12.80. Wild strawberry flavours without oak. This is very versatile and matches most foods in some form or other.
Cremant de bourgogne, Domaine de Rochebin was £16.20, now £13.70. Champagne-style. If you like Prosecco, try this.
Cotes de provence “pure” rosé, Mirabeau was £15.40, now £13. This wine was our summer hit last year. It still tastes great in winter – and spring and, er, summer again.
Burgenland St Laurent reserve, Artisan Wines was £17.60, now £15. This is an alternative pinot noir, but fuller. Unknown to most of us, it deserves wider recognition. Do try.
2015 gavi di gavi, Nuovo Quadro was £16.20, now £13.70. Chardonnay-like, but without oak. This is a fish companion par-excellence.
2014 muscadet sèvre & maine les rotelières, Famille Bougrier was £10.60, now £9. Wine commentator Jancis Robinson recently said muscadet was one of the two bargains in France. The other was beaujolais (see fleurie).
2014 spätburgunder trocken, Knewitz was £14.50, now £12.40. German pinot noir. Better and cheaper than burgundy, we say.