Why buy three when you can buy two?

Bet you're thinking that I've "got this wrong". There's surely a mistake here, shouldn’t that be the other way around? No, we are genuinely advocating that our clients buy two bottles of wine from us for the same money that would buy them three in the supermarkets.

The reason is quite simple. We love wine, we love quality wine and we really would like to encourage as many people as we can to try and enjoy quality wine. We don’t sell wines at £4.95 or wines that are available in the supermarkets. We have our reasons and those reasons are about substance, quality and reliability.

Our aim as a company is to encourage people to drink better quality wine and to try different wines and to learn about wine. We believe this is best achieved through quality not quantity. To do this means spending a little bit extra on a bottle, safe in the knowledge that the little bit extra will make a BIG difference.

Did you know that nearly £3 of the price of every bottle of wine in the shops is tax in one form or another?

Add to the cost of bottle and label . So from a £3, £4,£5 bottle, how much does this leave for wine in the bottle? 50p? £1?  So, by spending a little bit more on a bottle of wine, you are paying for a lot more wine rather than incidentals.

By extension that argument can be applied to small companies offering the same wines as you can get in the supermarket. That’s why you won’t find any of our wines in supermarkets. The vast majority of wine bought in the UK is bought in supermarkets and usually ‘on promotion’. But the question needs to be asked, if these wines are always ‘on promotion’, were they ever worth the original asking price? The truth is, they are not and if we are being really truthful, it is unlikely that they are worth the promotion price.

This isn't just our opinion, in a landmark review of supermarket wines the consumer watchdog, "Which" slated supermarket wines (see here) and more recently, Victoria Moore, writing in the Guardian commented that "one source, who asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons said " I often find myself touting a £7.99 wine that will actually sell in the supermarket for £3.99. The idea is that people will believe it might really be worth something between those two prices. It's not, it's worth £3.99 and not a penny more"

However it is not true that you need to spend vast amounts extra to get better quality wine. It is wrong to say that all wine in the supermarkets is dud wine, of course it is not. Supermarkets sell so much wine that people wouldn’t buy  wine if it was. However at the lower end price range it is true to suggest that the majority of these wines are pretty non descript, inconsequential, with little or no defining character. A Merlot from Tesco is the same as a Merlot from Asda, as one from Sainbury's.... in fact it very often IS the same wine, just with a different label. Same goes for "Brands", 'safe', 'reliable, the same.

Often these wines are made in such huge quantities that they are shipped in bulk in tankers to the UK, no individual character there. Quite simply, the ship pulls up alongside the dock, a hose is attached and the pumps start filling the tanks with wine! Not a great deal of refinement, crafting or individual treatment there. Many of the “Branded Wines” that you see in both supermarket and the High St come to the UK in this way.

Good, reasonable quality, usually reliable, but let’s be honest, nothing special, pretty “samey”, generally indistinguishable from the next wine on the shelf. Nothing wrong with that. However as Which commented in a "landmark" article a couple of years ago.... nothing special either.

We see our “job”as to get people drinking better quality wine and to do so requires spending just a little bit more. But not huge amounts more. Our “Midweek Wines” sell for on average £8.50 - £10 per bottle. Not much more than the £6 or £7 in the supermarket but enough to make a huge difference. Our producers are generally fairly small producers making wine to make a living. They don’t sell to supermarkets because they can’t. If they did, the supermarkets would screw them to the floor so much that they would be making very little money indeed. Most of the wines sold in supermarkets are made in huge quantities, by vast commercial concerns who operate at the very large economies of scale that supermarkets do. As a result, everything is made to a formula and it generally tends to show. Safe, reliable, not exciting, not dull, but not exciting. Most small producers shy away from supermarkets because of the price demands they make or because supermarkets are cut throat, they have to be and wines are often used as loss leaders, therefore affecting the shelf price that producers can achieve and their long term reputation for quality.

So, we work with smaller, more quality focused producers. Producers who, like David Finlayson at Edgebaston in Stellenbosch, don’t believe that wine should be a fashion statement, producers who like DP Burger at Glenwood in the Franschhoek Valley, who believes that wine should an expression of quality or like Justin Hoy at Highlands Road in Elgin who seek to create wines which are clearly identifiable with the climate and the topography of his region. (Terroir we call it in the business).

These guys work on smaller economies of scale and like to work in collaboration with people like us, making sure that their wines are good enough quality to give us an edge, at a price which ensures we can pass it on to you, our clients, so that you will be encouraged to come back and try some more. They make a living out of it, we make it a living out of it and our clients get to enjoy much better quality wine for the money they spend. Real win-win. (Or win-win-win if you like!)

So THAT's why we would strenuously suggest you buy two wines instead of three…. Quality, variety, reliability, a certain exclusivity.

As to why you should buy those two from us? Well, on top of all of this, there’s our Personal Service. There's our commitment to keep looking for interesting, different, reliable top quality producers. There's the notes and knowledge we provide with every case we deliver to you; we’ll seek and listen to your comments on wine and we’ll tailor your selection specifically to YOU. We listen to your comments on the wines that you try and we keep those comments so that when suggesting your next selection, we have a better chance of finding you something that you will love.

Better still, we genuinely want to be your “Wine buddies”, the guys you can trust when it comes to wine. We want to create a business, but we want to genuinely be able to share that business with others. So much so that when we are able to get special deals and special prices from our suppliers (and there’s a whole other article about how and why that happens), we pass these benefits on to our clients, by for example including a couple of “Weekend Wines” in a “Midweek Wine” case. And yes, your’e right, there are reasons for this, we want to let our clients taste “better quality” wines and encourage them to "trade up,buy more better quality wines and continue to recommend us to their friends.


supplying wine with knowledge