As far as own-label red wine is concerned, Sainsbury’s supermarket has taken the lead for several decades.
It was the first supermarket to put an own-label red wine on its shelves and since then where Sainsbury’s has gone, the other supermarkets have had to try to catch up.
Sainsbury’s first own-label wine was a Claret and it went on sale in the 1970s. As the other supermarkets scrabbled to follow, Sainsbury’s kept ahead of the game by introducing its own-label Vintage Selection which included chateau-bottled Clarets. By the 1980s Sainsbury’s was getting an honourable mention in the Which? Wine Guide and in the decades since it has worked hard to keep its own-label red wine selection interesting, relevant and value for money.
Sainsbury’s own-label red wine selection is extensive and includes a number of different ranges aimed at different types of customers as well as bottles and boxes containing a variety of different volumes of wine. Customers will find everything from 187ml miniature bottles to 225cl wine boxes and wine styles from a basic Spanish red to examples of some of the most respected red wines in the world. There’s even an own-label non-alcoholic red wine should you be so inclined.
Sainsbury’s wine bosses have been very aware of the impact of the recession on customers and in the last year or so have introduced a new “House” range of red wine styles. These wines are a step above the “Basics” red, a blend from Spain and offer a range of popular red wine styles at very affordable prices. The range includes a Cotes du Rhone for just £3.79; an Australian Merlot, a Rioja, a Montepulciano, a Tempranillo and a Corbieres all for £3.99; a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon for £4.29; an Australian Shiraz and a Romanian Pinot Noir for £4.49 and a Beaujolais for £4.79. Many of these House red wines are available in miniature bottles or boxes too.
The supermarket’s mid range own-label red wines are more variable in price although many are similarly priced to the House range. The majority of the world’s most popular red wine styles are represented, ranging from a Sicilian red wine and a Chilean Merlot for £3.99; a red Burgundy for £6.99 and an Argentinean Malbec for £4.99.
Sainsbury’s prestige range of red wine is sold under the Taste the Difference label. This range aims to showcase examples of some of the world’s top red wines at competitive prices and appeals to customers prepared to pay a little more to get a good quality and complex red wine. As many of these wines will have been produced with the help of top wine estates and wine makers we should not be snobbish about buying a supermarket own label red wine. After all, where else are you likely to get a bottle of one of the world’s currently hottest red wine styles, a Pinot Noir from New Zealand’s Central Otago region, for just £9.99?
Many of these Taste the Difference red wines have been recognised in the major wine competitions. Amongst the award winners is the Taste the Difference Barolo which sells at a competitive £15.99. The 2007 vintage won silver medals at the 2011 Decanter awards and the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) and a bronze award at the International Wine Challenge (IWC).
The Taste the Difference St Emilion, which costs £9.49, won an IWSC silver best in class award and an IWC silver medal whilst the Taste the Difference Crozes-Hermitage 2009, which retails at £9.49, won a Decanter silver medal and IWSC and IWC bronze medals.
In total, the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference red wine range won three Decanter silver medals and eight bronze medals; six IWC silver medals and six bronze medals; and five IWSC silver medals and five bronze medals. That’s a good medal haul for a supermarket own-label range.
In addition to its other own-label red wine ranges Sainsbury’s offers a handful of organic and Fairtrade red wines. The reds sold under the So Organic label include a Shiraz Vin de Pays D’Oc for £5.99 and a South African Fairtrade Cabernet Sauvignon for £5.99.
To help customers identify red wine grapes, regions or countries they may enjoy, Sainsbury’s have classified all their reds into three different categories: light and fruity; smooth and mellow and rich and complex.
Light and fruity reds have a red marking on the label and are described as easy drinking and light bodied. Wines in this category include the own label Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone and Old Vines Tempranillo. Smooth and mellow reds are described as juicy, soft and silky with flavours of ripe fruits. The labels on the bottles have a purple marking and examples of this category include the own label Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Chilean Merlot. Rich and complex reds have a blue marking on the label to identify them. They are described as full-bodied with intense flavours and include the Barolo, Douro and Chianti from the Taste the Difference range.
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