How to find good-value wines now that multi-buy offers are banned

John Wilson: Know the regions that offer greater consistency and value than others

From now on, there will be no case discounts, no buy one, get one free or any multi-buy offers on wine under new regulations. Photograph: iStock

From now on, there will be no case discounts, no buy one, get one free or any multi-buy offers on wine under new regulations. Photograph: iStock

 

You may have noticed doors and barriers being erected around the off-licence part of your local supermarket last November. These are part of the new Government regulations covering the sale of wine, beer and spirits. In mixed retail stores, alcohol must now be stored behind a counter. 

From Monday, further regulations come into effect; you will no longer be able to buy alcohol using loyalty card points and shops may not award loyalty points for the purchase of alcohol. From now on, there will be no case discounts, bogofs (buy one, get one free) or any multi-buy offers. This means that those buying wine, beer or spirits for weddings or parties may not be offered quantity discounts. Whether this leads to an exodus of wine buyers northwards, or over to France, remains to be seen. In addition, short “flash” sales lasting three days or less will be banned.

The introduction of minimum pricing has been postponed while the Minister for Health confers with his counterpart in Northern Ireland. However, he has said he will proceed with minimum pricing here in the Republic, which means the least expensive bottle of wine will cost about €7.80. 

The multiples are trying out new methods of retailing; for instance, some are offering prepacks of six bottles, such as the Dunnes Stores offer featured here. O’Briens card holders will be able to access special exclusive bottles of wine or spirits. I am sure we will see other innovations being trialled.

We all want to drink good cheap wine. Occasionally a producer may have full tanks of wine that need to be sold off cheaply, but otherwise why would anyone sell their superior wine for anything less than the market price? If you spend €10 or less on a bottle of wine in this country, at least half of your money goes straight to the Government in taxes. As a general rule, once you reach €10, the quality moves upwards quickly and you should expect something decent. 

Some regions can offer greater consistency and value than others. Usually they produce large volumes, have an advantageous climate and good modern winemaking skills. Top of my list would be La Mancha in central Spain. Here the Tempranillo grape can produce simple, tasty, fruity, medium-bodied red wines. Look out too for names such as Campo de Borja, Calatayud, Cariñena, Yecla and Jumilla.

Moving to Italy, my favourites would include Sicily, the Veneto, the Abruzzo and the Marches; in France, the Southern Rhône, Languedoc and southwest France. From Chile, Sauvignon can be good, as can Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and we are seeing more and more well-made inexpensive wines from Romania. 

Laurent Miquel Night Harvest Blanc 2019, Vin de France
12.5%, €50 for a six -bottle case
Made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Colombard, this is an attractive, lightly aromatic dry white wine with fresh plump melon fruits. Drink it solo, with creamy cheeses, or light seafood dishes. 
Stockist: Dunnes Stores, dunnesstores.com

Lastarria Viognier Reserva 2020, Colchagua, Chile
13.5%, €10
Light peach and apricot fruits in a crisp, refreshing dry white. This would go nicely with grilled plaice, or pasta with a fresh tomato sauce.
Stockists: O’Briens, obrienswine.ie

Canfo Tempranillo 2019, La Mancha
13%, €11.50
A joyful mouthful of bubbly, fresh, easy drinking red cherry fruits. Perfect on its own, or with most chicken and pork dishes.
Stockists: 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Clontarf Wines, D3, Clontarfwines.ie; The Delgany Grocer, Co Wicklow; Lilliput Stores, Dublin 7, lilliputstores.com; The Corner Butcher, D8, thecornerbutcher.business.site 

Pinot Noir Les Plants Noble 2019, Ropiteau, Vin de France 
12.5%, €12
Juicy blackcurrant and plum fruits, with very good concentration and a soft rounded finish. This would go nicely with white meats, duck or mushroom dishes.
Stockists: Joyce’s Supermarket, Joycesupermarket.ie; Fine Wines, nationwide; 1601 Off-licence, Kinsale; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Higgins, Clonskeagh, Higginsfflicence.ie; Kellys, Dublin 3, kellysofflicence.ie; The Grape & Grain, Co Dublin, Leopardstowninn.ie; Thomas’s of Foxrock, thomasoffoxrock.ie; winonline.ie; McHughs, Dublin 5, mchughs.ie; Gerry’s Fresh Foods, Skerries and Drogheda. 

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