When is a bargain not a bargain?

Or, why buy 3 when you can buy 2?

It's been a while since I last wrote something - we've been so busy setting things up. We'll change that, Stephen is insisting I do something regularly, so today I'm writing about some of the learning I've enjoyed.

When it comes to wine, I know what I like and I know what I don’t like.

However, we were talking about this recently and Stephen said to me…. “OK, We tell people that they would be better off buying two bottles from us for £15 than buying three bottles in the supermarket for the same £15. I know why I think this is the case, but you’re learning Scott, you don’t know as much about wine as me, yet you genuinely agree, so in your words, tell me why you think we can ask the question “Why buy 3 when you can buy 2”?

(To read Stephen's notes on this topic, click here)

For me the immediate answer is very easy….QUALITY. No question about it. In fact, once you get used to drinking good quality, reliable wines, it is very difficult to go back to buying 3 for £15 in the supermarket. That’s not to say that the offers in the supermarket aren’t genuine, yes you can buy three bottles of wine for £10 in some instances, but the wines that you get, well they are pretty inconsequential. I find them to be pretty non-descript, very samey, alcoholic fruit juice. Without trying to "oversell" they are usually fairly forgettable, mass produced, very much made to a formula and one wine tastes very much like another (…. and that sometimes goes for reds tasting like whites as well!)

I’m fortunate, I’ve been able to visit our producers in South Africa and I’ve seen the small, “hand crafted”, family wineries making top quality wines. I’ve also seen the huge farms where grapes are grown in massive volumes and everything is done on an industrial scale, "grapes come in trucks and wine leaves in tankers!"

So I do understand when Stephen talks about “entry level” and “very commercial” wines and when he talks about Premium and Fine Wines. It’s not snobbery, it is a genuine statement of different quality levels, something that you can taste in the concentration of the wine, the body of the wine and how long the flavours last on your tongue. We all know what we mean when we talk about “ordinary” wines,or “something that's a bit better or a bit more special” and “something very special or for a special occasion.” Once you start tasting wine regularly you DO soon come to appreciate the difference even as little as £1 can make!

We taste wine regularly (every job has its perks!) and at first I must admit that I had difficulty in differentiating in terms of quality. However, the more we tasted and the more we began to categorise wines into "Midweek", "Weekend" and "Special Occasion", the more I began to gain an appreciation for different quality levels in wine. I guess I'm fortunate to be able to taste so many wines and get the chance to taste very different qualities. This lets me see for myself the difference an extra pound or two makes. Supermarket wines for £5? Well, everybody knows that wine is a loss leader in supermarkets and if not, it is made so cheaply, that the quality is hardly, if ever inspiring.

So, as Stephen says in HIS article on this topic, that's why we work with smaller, more quality focused producers. These guys are genuine guys who like to work in collaboration with people like us, to make sure that their wines are good enough quality to give us an edge, at a price which ensures we can pass it on to our clients, so that it will be an easy choice to come back and try some more.

So, they're not ALL my own words but these are some of the reasons WHY I am happy to ask the question"Why buy three when you can buy two!"

Scott, 9th November 2009


Some Sauvignon Blancs for Warm Summer Evenings

Setting up a wine business means necessary evils like meeting with accountants.

During one such evening meeting with Eamon, our friendly Number Cruncher, Stephen the “wine geek” suggested sweeten the nasty by tasting some wine. Didn’t take long for me and the cruncher to agree and out came the bottles.

Three white wines were chosen and although all were Sauvignon Blanc they came from different parts of the Cape. ( He never misses a chance to "teach you something!", this time it was a "campare & contrast" exercise.)

The wines were
1. Knorhoek Sauvignon Blanc 2007 from Stellenbosch.
2.  Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc 2007 from another part of Stellenbosch, the Helshoogte Pass en route to Franschhoek.
3.  Du Toitskloof Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007 from Rawsonville.

The wines were poured into glasses numbered as above 1, 2, 3.

My notes:
No.1 the Knorhoek was very pale in colour but had a fruity flavour, not sure what fruit maybe grapefruit or guava something like that. Very refreshing and had a different kind of flavour, which made it VERY interesting, something Stephen later said was "minerality".

No.2 the Zondernaam again had a pale straw colour but didn’t have the same burst of fruit as 1. A bit drier to taste although there was a hint of gooseberries along with some earthiness, whatever that means.

No.3 the Du Toitskloof, this was my least favourite of the chosen wines although it was still very drinkable. The colour was a lot deeper than the other two maybe with a hint of green to it. Again there was a touch of grapefruit or gooseberry to the taste but there was also an underlying taste that I’m not quite sure how to describe maybe slightly medicinal not sure.

Stephen asked us (Eamon and myself) to "rank" the wines by preference. All three of us really enjoyed all three wines and surprisingly we all had the same preferences which followed the wine numbering of 1, 2, 3.

Stephen WAS pleased and proceeded to tell us various facts about where the wine was made and how this showed that Sauvignon Blanc "preferred" cooler climates..... Eamon and I just polished off the wines! 

To find out more about selected Sauvignon Blancs, go here.

8th July 2009



Hello there,

I'm Scott and I'd like to welcome you to my "Personal Wine Journey Blog' .

Like many of you, I've been drinking wine for YEARS (just look at the photo for the evidence!)

Although I'd been to South Africa and the vineyards of the Cape a couple of years ago, I really only started learning about wine when Stephen and I got together to set up TheWineSchool.

Since then, working daily with Stephen and with our vineyard owners, winemakers and suppliers, I have begun learning how to taste wine, how to differentiate, how to describe what I like and don't, how to compare and contrast. I've had great fun experimenting and yes, there have been wines that I've tried that I've not liked.

We thought that many of you would rather hear how the "Ordinary Bloke" in the team started.....and continues... to learn about wine, so we thought it would be an idea to share my own particular "Wine Journey" with you.

I'll post regularly, on all sorts of topics, from wine styles, to grape types, to vineyards I've visited, wines I like, wines I don't. I'll happily answer any questions you might have about my experience...... sometimes my "Geek" of a friend still uses "Winespeak", maybe I can put things into layman's terms.

We'll make this a proper interactive blog in time, however if you have any comments or questions, please do drop me ane-mail.

Scott Bennie
6th July 2009



supplying wine with knowledge


TheWineSchool Ltd, 2009