A ranking of the best wines you can get for £6.
During the great expanse of the university summer, I found myself on a middle-class holiday to (where else but) the south of France. Between the arduous tasks of eating prawns (crevettes, actually) and reading one page of my book a day, I went to a wine tasting. Suddenly, any pull I might have had to grad schemes, a panic master’s, or internships was replaced by vivid imagery of being in my very own vineyard, spending my days fine-tuning my palate to identify notes of oak or elderflower in a Chardonnay. In light of this, I was really building a rapport with the winemaker leading the tasting, asking numerous questions about the wine-making process.
However, remembering that my week in France (wholly funded by my parents) would soon be rudely replaced by the slightly mouldy, penniless existence of being a student, my next question was: “which supermarket is the best to buy wine at?” The answer was quick, and came with a certain air of disappointment, as I could feel the job opportunity slide away instantly: “None”. Ah. Undeterred however, I will do what winemakers will not. I will use my knowledge as a completely unqualified, not knowledgeable whatsoever, yet seasoned, supermarket wine drinker to help you out.
Firstly, some terms and conditions. I might lack expertise, but there are few things I love more than giving out my unjustified opinions. There is no red wine here as my taste buds have not matured to that of your dad’s, and there is no Sauvignon Blanc because, in my unprofessional opinion (I must stress this), it has a taste not dissimilar to Lemsip.
I attempted to avoid own-brand wines, and did not step inside Byres Road Tesco as I imagine you can’t really buy anything for under £6 there. I feel passionately that cheap wine does not need to induce flashbacks to horrifying first year wine and cheese nights, so here are six £6, or under, wines that are (largely) worth your student loan.
Franz Reh Liebfraumilch—£4.99 from Waitrose
Disturbingly, this roughly translates to “Our Lady’s milk”, but I recommend you try to look past this as it is a faithful, quite sweet wine, that you can’t really go wrong with. It is inexpensive in literally every supermarket, even Waitrose, as demonstrated here. Perfect for drinking to get drunk, this is inexpensive wine, drunk for efficiency, much like that IKEA kitchenware that you bought for first year.
Rioja Blanco Camino Real—£5.99 from Majestic
Listen, you might say I bought this because it was the only under £6 wine I could find in Majestic. That may be true, but regardless, this is a very drinkable wine, to the extent that it is akin to drinking water. I did get a free glass of prosecco whilst buying this which was particularly kind given I was buying the cheapest bottle of wine obtainable. When I told the lady at the till that I was writing this piece she wished me luck and shared her wisdom that you can only really get a good wine for above £8. She might be onto something.
Caparelli Soave—£5.50 from (Dumbarton Road) Tesco
I was incredibly excited about this one as it has a Decanter Wine Award; I think I can see why, it is a genuinely refreshing, citrusy wine. However, this opinion may be somewhat influenced by the fact that this is the only wine I tried non-consecutively, and I was therefore completely sober. However, it did pair well with my Tuesday night bolognese and an episode of Bake Off. If you’d like a more highbrow take on wine, Decanter is just a Google away (but remember, my high-quality journalism is free, unlike Decanter’s £14 a month subscription).
Sainsbury’s Cava Brut—£6 from, well, Sainsbury’s
Coming clean, this actually cost me £7 in the Byres Road Sainsbury’s, but it’s still £6 on their website, so we’re counting it, okay? Cava is excellent because you can be pretentious and tell everyone you prefer it to Processco, and sound, I imagine, much like a sommelier does. This is a dry and zesty sparkling wine (fun). Sainsbury’s tells me I can pair it with fish and chips, I normally prefer to pair mine with a Fanta, but perhaps you could nip into the University Cafe on your walk back? This is perfect for all minor celebrations, including, but not limited to, making it through a week of 9ams, reading an article without getting distracted by your phone, or getting a seat in the JMS.
Mezquiriz Navarra Rosé—£4.99 from Lidl
Firstly, some obvious advice, if you want options for under £6, Lidl is your friend. Secondly, some even more obvious advice, cheap wine from Lidl should be drunk with slight caution. This wine was price cut from £5.45, which is good because I’m not sure I’d have paid that much for it. Distinct notes of vodka and blackcurrant permeate this wine, reflected in its suspiciously red colour. This wine did grow on me, and I wanted to give you a rosé, but Côtes de Provence rosé this is not.
Vinho Verde—£4.99 from Lidl
My love for this wine runs deep, perhaps because I think Vinho Verdes are always to be trusted, or perhaps because I do really think this is a good, light, bright wine that I implore you to pick up to accompany your favourite Lidl bakery item. This is a versatile wine that you can watch Bridget Jones for the fourth time with, or conduct a debrief of the dramatics of your week with (saw your second year flatmate in Hive, that sort of thing). Cheap and very cheerful, a £4.99 wine to make any week finish, at least marginally, better than it started.
Okay, maybe it was a little more difficult than I imagined to use the medium of Lidl aisles to emulate the neat rows of grapevines in my aspirational vineyard. Maybe I should have listened to the winemaker when he proposed a budget of (at least) £10. Though I ask you this, what is the purpose of a £6 wine? I would argue it is a drink which serves to open up maybe too-deep conversations, or to get you through a new season of Emily in Paris. £6 wine is much like students, maybe a little tasteless, and driven by a lack of funds. We don’t need a bottle of Champagne- it’s wasted on us. £6 wine serves an important purpose in students’ lives, and for that, it’s a pairing more classic than cheese.