The Great Pricing Wall


Caught a rather interesting item the other day on the Radio (4 – what else!), about how supermarkets price their wine and offers. Apparently, many of the wines are on offer for 45% of the time. I also gather there are complex rules about when and how often something is allowed to be “on offer”. The other thing I am unclear about is if it’s the wine brand that suggests the offer or the supermarket, and who pays for it? Any supermarket gurus out there please enlighten us at

This whole business of wine and how much we are prepared to pay for it seems to become increasingly intriguing. For example, do we all just go for whatever is the cheapest – budgets are tight these days? Some big stores now offer their own brand “cheaper” ranges I see, a sort of “basics” of wine. Prices range, but around £4 isn’t uncommon. Presumably, their incredible buying power and market aggression can cut a good deal with the makers, and even sell it for a loss to get us all in.

It seems true that we all have an inbuilt resistance to price – in most things. Look at cars priced at £19,999. Oh great – £1 change from £20k. Spend it wisely. It just sounds better. Especially when the ads say “Only one – nine – nine – nine – nine.” Oh please.

So it is with wine. We all struggle to keep within £6 or £7, and will completely avoid £10.50p.  Why? I appreciate wine is a luxury item. We will “save” a few quid by avoiding a £10 bottle, yet happily blow £3 on crisps or chewing gum or bottled water. If you can spare the extra £2 then you will find a real change in quality. Rather like going up the football league and watching at Anfield instead of your own tiny club with a draughty stand and one tea van. (Here, if not already, my footballing knowledge is exhausted, so apologies to the knowing.)

And if you ever venture into the £15 or £20+ league – rare for most mortals – then it’s worth the odd special occasion to have an excuse to see if the alleged higher quality is noticeable. I believe it is – whatever your knowledge. I have once tasted Chateau Lafitte, decades ago, as an introduction to what is “possible” from growing grapes. I have totally forgotten everything of course except the total shock and surprise at the power of the flavours and tastes. Fortunately for the home finances, I have avoided this experiment ever since. There is also the point that much of Chateau Lafitte has an absurd price, as people speculate with it and never attempt to actually drink it. Ridiculous? Well, surely yes, if you really think this wine caper is ultimately about enjoying the stuff.   

Wine offers are usually good things for the customer, but, as I have said before, try to find an occasional couple of quid more and get an awareness of the wider world. I’d happily skip a few packets of crisps. It’s rather like walking over the top of a hill in the countryside – a bit of an effort but what an unexpected and thrilling view! Open the mind and marvelous things will happen. Who said that? Not bad for £2 more.