Back-to-the-fray, budget bottles

After a booze-free month, some modest bottle recommendations for a frugal new-year palate
from Professor Dominic Regan and Seán Jones QC


Having survived Christmas, done a dry January, paid your tax instalment (how much?!) and returned to the fray, you deserve a decent bottle of wine.

Frugality is a necessity for many of us and in this column we thought we should identify good bottles at a fair price with an absolute limit of a tenner. Browsing the shelves at Waitrose demonstrated that the task was not easy, but we have positive proposals.

'We learn from the Wine Society that in a bottle costing £4.95 the wine element is just 4% of the price. Spend £8.95 and that escalates to 30%'

It ought not to be possible to buy something drinkable for anywhere near £5. Duty and VAT in particular have a regressive impact. We learn from the Wine Society that in a bottle costing £4.95 the wine element is just 4% of the price. Spend £8.95 and that escalates to 30%.

Defying this logic somehow, Aldi manages to sells for a fiver some good quality Spanish red, Toro Loco and a great Italian white, Taia Piera Lugana for £6.99. A pound more will get you a rich gutsy Rhone red, Vinsobres.

Tesco sells a decent Beaujolais disguised in a dull bottle for exactly £5. It is hidden on the bottom shelf, as is the Marks and Spencer Red Bordeaux Duc de Chaleray 2017 for £6. It is elegant and worth more.

Waitrose stocks at £5.99 Sous Le Soleil red and white from France. Both are decent but the red is best. Just in budget is Waitrose’s own label 2017 White Burgundy, an excellent Chardonnay that is better than branded bottles costing £14. The best red coming in at £9.99 is the Italian Primitivo with a distinctive orange label. Full of flavour; a wise purchase.

You will not get Champagne within our budget but there are fair alternatives. Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s run to a good French alternative, Blanquette de Limoux at about £9.

Lidl’s Tavel Rosé at £8 is respectable. You might be better buying this than their entry level £3.99 job.

We have had some lovely feedback and more columns will be with you this year. Happy 2020! 

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Dominic Regan

Dominic Regan, @krug79, is a Professor at City Law School. He has worked since 2010 with Sir Rupert Jackson on aspects of reform and last year advised the House of Commons Select Committee about costs law as it applies to non-disclosure agreements. He buys a lot of wine.

Seán Jones QC

Seán Jones QC, 11 KBW, @seanjonesqc, specialises in employment law and is General Editor of Tolley’s Employment Handbook. He also works in the sports law field.