Paula’s Wines of the Week – 9th March 2021

Paula’s Wines of the Week – 9th March 2021

The £2.99 wine is not dead yet

The death of the £2.99 wine has been suspended, for now, thanks to the UK’s March 2021 budget announcement that alcohol duty would be frozen at £2.23 per bottle. But duty is just one type of tax you pay on wine. You also pay VAT.

VAT is paid on most things you buy – and for wine it’s set at 20% of the selling price. So the more expensive your bottle of wine then the more VAT there is to pay. So on that £2.99 bottle the VAT is approximately 45p, bringing the total tax bill to £2.68.

But that leaves just 31p to pay for the value of the wine in the bottle, plus buying the bottle itself (and the cork), getting it here and (hopefully) a small profit for those selling it. But the cost of packaging and delivery on any bottle of wine, regardless of cost, is about 56p. So that means that someone, somewhere is making a loss. You just can’t expect that remaining 31p to cover everything.

So the £2.99 bottle of wine is a “loss leader” – an item that costs the supermarket more to buy than they can sell it for but are prepared to make a loss to pull in the punters. Sliced white loaves, milk and tins of baked beans also fit into this category. In fact Tesco’s announcement in 2011 that its Value Beans would cost just 3p a tin proved so popular they had to limit the number of tins each customer could buy.

So are there still any supermarkets still prepared to sell loss leader £2.99 bottles of wine and are they actually worth buying?

Lidl, Aldi, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s all stock a small selection of wines at £2.99 or £3.

Some of these are the dreaded British wine (not to be confused with English wine) which is wine made from imported grape juice concentrate and is usually of low alchohol and low flavour. To its advantage it does mean that as it isn’t yet alcohol when it arrives in the UK then it doesn’t have to pay both Excise and Customs Duty.

The £3 and under range also consists heavily of low alchohol wines and de-alcoholised “zero” alcohol (0.5% alcohol or less) wines. Tax on these types of wines is lower and so their selling price can be kept low.

March 2021 prices

Conde Noble Spanish White £2.99
(There was was also red version of this showing In November 2020 at £3.50 but it is no longer showing on the Lidl website.)
Probably the best of the whites. At 11% and made with the Spanish Airen grape, it is light and citrus-scented. It scores 80 points (out of 100) on the Lidl wine rating scale as decided by Richard Bampfield, their Master of Wine consultant, and the wine also won a Commended at the International Challenge 2018 competition. forum rates this as “perfectly drinkable and gluggable.”

Baywood British Wine £2.99
This British wine made from imported grape juice is just 8% alcohol, and is described as elderflower scented and medium-sweet. It doesn’t get great reviews on Vivino (a popular wine review app).

Baron Saint Jean Blanc and Rouge £2.99
You won’t see these listed on the main Aldi website but these wines are still there if you go into the store. I reviewed these in 2012 and they weren’t great.

Wine Atlas Feteasca Neagra £3 (Rollback offer from £5.25)
The best of the reds. Made in Romania from the “Black Maiden” red grape. Its taste is peppery blackcurrant (much like a red wine made with the Pinot Noir grape). Winner of a Bronze at the International Wine Challenge 2020. Very drinkable.

B by Black Tower rose £3
Yes Black Tower is still with us. This German wine is just 5.5% alcohol and is a reduced alcohol drink. Described as having aromas of fresh red berries and raspberries.

B by Black Tower White £3
Supposedly having subtle fruit aromas of yellow and exotic fruits.

Tesco Low Alcohol Garnacha rose £2.75
Spanish dealcoholised.

Tesco Low Alcohol sparkling white £2.75
Spanish dealcoholised Sauvignon Blanc with CO2 for fizz.

Tesco Fruity Red £2.99
Also available in a 3-litre box at £14.50 (which calculates at the more expensive £3.63 per 75cl). Reviewed this in 2019 for giving 2*: aromas of plums, taste has a harsh finish.

Tesco Zesty White £2.99 (currently unavailable)
Spanish. Supposedly having citrus notes and lively green fruit flavours.

Tesco Mulled Wine £3
5.5%, infused with spices. Drink warm at Christmas.

Sainsbury’s Lambrusco Rosato and Bianco £3
5.5% Italian sweet and slighty sparkling.

The wine rating system uses a maximum of 5 stars:

5 star rating (outstanding – the top rating given by
4 star rating (very good wine)
3 star rating (good wine but over priced)
2 star rating (a disappointing wine)
1 star rating (little to offer)

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© Paula Goddard 2021