Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

UK Wine Merchants


balex
 Share

Recommended Posts

Following Gus's suggestion, I thought it might be interesting to have a discussion about who we buy our wine from.

I use four channels:

supermarkets -- Waitrose (ocado) I haven't found this very good

high street off licenses -- Oddbins -- have some good stuff

wine merchants -- e.g. Corney and Barrow (overpriced), Morris & Verdin (v good for Burgundy )

internet ( everywine is quite fun but erratic pricing).

there is also Majestic who don't quite fit into these categories.

I definitely favour the old-fashioned wine merchants. Oddbins used to have clueful staff but not consistently anymore.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm glad my suggestion to talk about wine was well received. Thought I might be branded a spliter!

Using the Wine Society at the moment, in the belief that they'll select good wines, esp from France. But being a non-expert, I might be mistaken in my assumptions. Do tell me!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a Wine Society member too and they're great on French wines, OK on the rest of "old world" and not very good on "new world" - what they stock is generally OK to ggod, but there isn't the range/depth of their European wines.

Elsewhere I like Majestic and have been pained to see the very rapid decline in Oddbins: my local shop was refurbished last year, which increased the floor space and halved the range. Tried Virgin Wines for a panic purchase before Christmas: they claim to deliver in a 1-hour slot in London. They don't (or didn't) - and the wines were disappointing too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been given membership of the Wine Society as a Xmas present, and I'm looking forward to ordering. Any tips for good ways to get to know their offerings? For example, has anyone tried their mixed cases (at first glance, some look interesting, but some look full of the kind of thing I could - but don't - buy at Sainsbury's)?

On the subject of off-licences, the Threshers near me has undergone a bizarre metamorphosis in the last few weeks. It was never great (small; obvious and so-so wine), but it's become very chi-chi while still remaining bland (for example it now has a branded display with lots of Louis Jadot burgundies). It also now has a section devoted to Rocket pre-prepared food. I guess in a way this makes sense: since off licences are open late, they are good places to sell expensive semi-prepared food to people who work late. But overall I'm disappointed that Threshers' attempt to go upmarket involves selling lots of heavily branded, not very interesting posh wine and ready meals. Has anyone else seen one of these places? Are they doing well?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use Waitrose but we don't get ocado deliveries, occasionally Virgin, especially when they have decent offers and we're fortunate to have a small local merchant who also does mail order The Bottleneck, only a small list but they will try and source outside the range if you mail them. Very handy if it's on the doorstep so to speak.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Philglass and Swiggott on Northcote Road is good and friendly. The owners are Australian and have good connections to interesting Antipodean wines, but also good coverage of other regions. They won the "independent wine merchant of the year" award last year.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use quite a few

Stone & Vine

Haynes hanson & clark

Nickolls & Perks

Uvine

Handford

Philglas & swiggot - good for new world, but overpriced.

Seckford

Bibendum

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RE The Wine Society - I think a problem, which isn't their fault, is that too few of the newspapers include reviews of the Wine Society's offers.

In the case of some of the papers, I wonder if it's because it competes with The Sunday Times wine club.

Incidentally, I also got my membership as a Christmas present. If anyone has any specific recomendations, I'd love to hear them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I occasionally get wine at Waitrose’ “Inner Cellar” (larger stores mainly) which has superb choice, but hardly any discounts on decent bottles. Majestic was quite good at one stage, but their prices went up a lot (particulary Riojas). Most of my wine is purchased from local “Tesco” superstore which every now and then does a “20% off” offer (i.e. on all French, Italian or Oz), plus a further 5% if you get 6 bottles or more. I am always amazed to see £2,99 bottles disappearing first from the shelf - consider you can get a £28 bottle of “Hugel’s 1996 Vendage Tardive Riesling” for £21!? Quite frankly guys, I am a little bit surprised none of wine enthusiasts here are mentioning a word about day trips across the Channel for £9 with P&O – not only you save money on wine purchases, but you can have a lovely day out and a descent meal (i.e. in Boulogne) without breaking the bank.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I (who know nothing about wine) have seen plenty of Penfolds LaGrange at my local Tescos superstore (Talgarth Road) and Bin 707 and La Grange at Sainsbury's (Kensington).

As for the £9 day trips, has that been going on for long? Will it end anytime soon?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was New Malden branch where I saw "Hugel" last week Winot and where you can get "Penfolds" on offer frequently. I have a soft sport for this winery and would strongly recommend "Kalimna Shiraz" Bin 28 or 128.

Moby, you can get various £9 day trip offers with P&O or Seafrance to Calais with newspapers tokens - try Daily Mail (not my favourite paper) or something simmilar. Bon voyage!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RE The Wine Society - I think a problem, which isn't their fault, is that too few of the newspapers include reviews of the Wine Society's offers.

In the case of some of the papers, I wonder if it's because it competes with The Sunday Times wine club.

Incidentally, I also got my membership as a Christmas present. If anyone has any specific recomendations, I'd love to hear them.

for me the best things about The Wine Society are;

Opening offers (French Classic regions)

The ability to store the above at reasonable rates

Region/country specific offers throughout the year (often good mixed cases)

Reliable delivery service

Tastings

If you live in London, their prices aren't that cheap

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But does nobody go for that relationship stuff where there is an individual who knows your tastes and can say 'try this" ?

For me there are three sorts of wine buying.

a) after research I decide I want to buy a case of a particular wine and so I search around until I find it and buy it on price and convenience (and provenance if it is old).

b) when it comes to Burgundy where I am especially not an expert, I listen to the recommendations of someone I trust at a wine merchant. Anything I've heard of is probably overpriced.

c) I am in a supermarket and I grab something of the shelves almost at random.

But for me I definitely want to talk to knowledgable people for a substantial fraction of my wine buying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But does nobody go for that relationship stuff where there is an individual who knows your tastes and can say 'try this" ?

.....

But for me I definitely want to talk to knowledgable people for a substantial fraction of my wine buying.

As a younger man, I was up for relationships in all sorts of contexts, but my experiences with the UK wine trade weren't particularly rewarding. Too often, "specialist" wine merchants - including some mentioned in this thread - seemed to be populated by pretty ignorant, ex minor public schoolboys, whose knowledge didn't reach much beyond what they were pushing that particular season. (Stop me at any point if you detect any personal prejudices coming through).

The upside, for me at least, is that I've concluded that the best way to develop expertise/appreciation is to drink a lot and have devoted much of my adult life to this cause and will continue to do so until my liver or bank account runs out. (could be a close call).

Drinking alone is always a bad/sad thing, so why not a series of collaborative egullet tastings - try 6/8 new wines each time and split the cost among a small group?

As George V (bless him) once said "bugger burgers". Or it may have been "bognor"? Anyway, if it can work for something as prosaic as a burger, it must be possible for something as wonderful as wine

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It depends on current needs, but shopping for wine in Britain (I don't reside there anymore, unfortunately) was more exciting than anywhere else (and I include buying from the vintners themselves, which is altogether a different experience).

The specialist merchants, both the bigger ones like Berry Bros. and smaller independents (Yapp, La Vig - now Handford, HH&C etc.), offer fairly good and deep selections. The January sales don't hurt, either. If you're looking for something specific, someone will carry it (e.g. Grubb for Madeira) somewhere. So it was never a question of not being able to find what I wanted.

They also carry, to varying degrees (especially independents outside London), interesting and lesser known wines, often well before the international press has caught on. It is an issue - the wine market has become increasingly globalised and a big order from one country (no prizes for guessing which one) can effectively cover a vintner's entire vintage production, especially in places where the estates are very small, e.g. Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.

Then there are the auctions. My friends and I had enormous fun at and after them, and often there are bargains to be had outside the more competitive lots of Bordeaux, Burgundy and port. It's kind of a dirty secret, but estate sales in the country were also very good for picking up oddments, especially of off-vintage Bordeaux, for very low prices. Too often the children don't really care or know.

The supermarkets and big chains have their uses as well, especially Waitrose, Oddbins (I hear it's gone to pieces now, though) and if one's buying for a few hundred, Majestic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Following Gus's suggestion, I thought it might be interesting to have a discussion about who we buy our wine from...

I am planning a trip to London. I signed up with ticketmaster.uk to get some theater tickets (wound up buying them elsewhere) - and they sent me an email coupon from Virgin wines which I believe is good for 20 pounds off a 50 pound or more purchase. It is for first time buyers only. I won't be using the coupon. So if anyone is interested - just send me email or a private message. I'll send it to the first person I hear from. Perhaps the person who gets the coupon can host a party for other forum members here and you can see whether you like Virgin wines. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

The big plus with the Wine Society is their tastings which are generally well worth the effort to attend. Typically 20 wines at an informal tasting, usually organised around a theme.

Edited by daw (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...