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'Wine critic sees glass half empty' blog discussion

This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

Please click 'post reply' to discuss below.


  • Errata
    Errata Posts: 38,230 Forumite
    First Post Combo Breaker
    And this is where I fundamentally disagree with Mr. Rose’s comments. The wine market is already far too much about the label, rather than the taste, and even then it’s a massively subjective area.

    Supermarket wine is often worth only £4.99 a bottle, which the wine Buyer is quite aware of and is bought in on that price; the Buyer initially prices it at £7.99 so they can knock off £3 and the shopper thinks they've got a bargain. Supermarket shoppers can be easily misled.
    Wine bought from a wine merchant is a very different kettle of fish, the target market will be substantially different from that of a supermarket.
    .................:)....I'm smiling because I have no idea what's going on ...:)
  • tocsin
    tocsin Posts: 186 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker Name Dropper First Post
    In general, I agree with the downshift premise. However, in the case of alcohol, tax has an impact - in that good old George takes a fixed whack of duty based on volume, not price. The really cheap bottles therefore have very little going on production - duty and tax is almost all the cost!
  • SallyForth_2
    There is also the other point, yes sometime you can tell the difference, and it's obvious that the more expensive one is nicer, But, not enough so to be worth paying the extra for it. If it's not worth the difference, I stick with the cheaper one anyway.
  • oakhouse13
    There's no harm in reminding people that a cheaper brand may be just as good or better so keep an open mind and use common sense. It might be worth mentioning to check ingredients if you are trading down across your shopping list. Some product categories, like sauces, the budget brand will have red & yellow traffic lights especially for salt & sugar compared to green for more expensive varieties although sometimes it can be the other way around. A change right across your supermarket shop though it would be worth double checking the impact on your salt & sugar intake.

    Radio 2's programme was about price framing as a marketing ploy - the offer of half price on a £10 bottle of wine is price marketing because the wine has probably never sold in any quantity at £10. The higher price is to put a high value in your head and then offer it for a so called limited period at half price and it works as a call to action.

    One of the best pieces of advice I've read was by a behavioural economist explaining the dark arts of price framing. Economists regard taking the higher price in a price frame into account as a cognitive error and once this is pointed out it seems obvious.
  • 1018hats
    I speak with 30 years experience in the wine trade, and I agree absolutely that wine is a very subjective area. One person's nectar is another person's poison, regardless of price. In my career I've been privileged to taste bottles of wine that cost £200 or £300 pounds each, and many of them I wouldn't pay £25 for. Other wines costing less than £5 have given me equal pleasure. There is no hard and fast rule about how much you should pay for a bottle of wine, and higher prices do certainly do NOT always equal higher quality. There are wines coming out of Argentina that completely outclass many wines coming from France at five times the price, and anyone who tells you different is just plain wrong. My advice is to experiment, try new wines from all over the world, and if you're feeling unsure, build a relationship with a good independent wine merchant you think you can trust, because they will offer you the best advice. Give the supermarkets a miss once in a while.
    ROBDOLPHIN66 Posts: 1,399 Forumite
    Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    I can't believe that Martin is naive enough to think that wine "on offer" in the supermarket is remotely worth the "full price".
    The £10 wine was never worth £10 and probably not even £5.
  • theseagull
    theseagull Posts: 2,698 Forumite
    I can't believe that Martin is naive enough to think that wine "on offer" in the supermarket is remotely worth the "full price".
    The £10 wine was never worth £10 and probably not even £5.

    Totally agree. I recently opened an independent wine merchants, and a from a wide range of suppliers there is very little drinkable that can be retailed at less than £4.95 and still deliver a reasonable profit margin. As for the 'half price' wine offers in supermarkets they are an absolute joke. These wines have never been in the ten pound bracket. They are stuck on the shelf at that price for a few weeks so they can then be put on offer at 'half price'.

    An example, we sourced a Gran Reserve Monastrell from Jumilla in Spain which we could buy in and sell at £5.99 for our target gp of 30%. Imagine my surprise when I saw exactly the same wine on sale in my local Sainsbury for £11.99, only to be reduced to 'half price' £5.99 a couple of weeks later !! Now, at £5.99 it is a great value wine, but £12 a bottle it isn't.

    Just feel sorry for any mugs who actually paid £11.99 for it. Cost me £3.50 odd a bottle for a pallet, what price do you think they paid for however many hundred pallets of it Sainsbury's bought ??!!
  • Tojo_Ralph
    Tojo_Ralph Posts: 8,373 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    edited 4 January 2011 at 12:24AM
    Having read both articles, it's interesting to see that Messrs Lewis has taken umbrage at something unsaid and that opinion is treated as fact to suit.

    Anthony Rose: "The suggestion that the depressing cheaper one was better because it was cheaper lacked conviction"
    Martin Lewis: "Now I’ve been accused of many things in my time, but it’s the first time anyone’s ever said I lack conviction"

    Stating that an argument lacks conviction is completely different from stating that a person lacks conviction. :)

    What Messrs Lewis should really take issue with is the fact that at no point does he claim that the cheaper tree is better because it is cheaper, thus the claim that he did is unfounded.

    So on to the cheaper tree, which in the opinion of Messrs Rose was "depressing". In response to this Messrs Lewis states, "where he’s wrong is the tree decorated with cheaper stuff was by far the nicer and much more jolly of the pair".

    Stating that an opinion in relation to aesthetics is wrong is a strange concept and had the impartial ;) Anna Richardson stated in her impartial ;) opinion that the more expensive of the two trees was nicer and jollier, would Messrs Lewis have told her that her opinion was wrong, in the same way he states that the opinion of Messrs Rose is wrong? :)

    So to the article itself wich one should note is titled "When it comes to matters of taste it’s a false economy not to take the upshift challenge"


    IMHO the article makes perfect sense, particularly given the caveat included stating "So let's not be too Scrooge-like this week but give ourselves the option of choosing great value or upsizing to great quality in a variety of styles suitable for the festivities"

    If one should try brands 30% cheaper to see if they are as good or good enough to make the saving justified, does it not make sense to try brands 30% more expensive to see if they are twice as good and thus if the expenditure is justified?

    The irony is that if one reads what Messrs Rose has actually written, he recommends a supermarket own brand, discounted wines and is pretty much singing from the same hymn sheet as Messrs Lewis, albeit with a value bent rather than flat out cheapness.
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