Wine: a change is going to come

Hallelujah! The big chains are at long last placing greater emphasis on what makes them different from each other, rather than trotting out the same old bottles

The main appeal of buying wine in a supermarket or high-street chain is that it’s cheap(-ish) and convenient. The downside, as I’ve mentioned here before, are the dodgy promotions and the limited and at times terminally dull range on the shelves.

Your nearest supermarket may not, in fact, be the one that best suits your particular tastes or circumstances. If you live in a city, especially, fortunately you have a choice, and what I’ve noticed this autumn is that the big chains are placing much greater emphasis on what makes them different.

Morrisons, judging by the kitchen setting they created for their tasting, is clearly making a pitch at younger women who are relatively new to wine: the Mumsnet reader who wants a put-your-feet-up glass after she’s put the kids to bed or a wine for a particular occasion, say. Need a hearty red to drink on bonfire night or with pizza? Morrisons Rich & Spicy (13.5% abv), an easy-drinking South African blend of cinsault, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, should hit the spot, especially at a well-priced £4.49.

Marks & Spencer, on the other hand, seems to be setting its sights on the adventurous wine drinker who cooks Ottolenghi recipes and buys exotic varieties of hummus. The most innovative supermarket by far, M&S stocks grape varieties that you – and even I – have never heard of, including oküzgözü, narince and malagouzia. Or try the Tikves Smederervka Rikaciteli 2012 (£6.99; 12% abv), from Macedonia, a quirky, fragrant, almost retsina-ish white that would go brilliantly with meze. (It’s in only 160 branches, though.)

And Oddbins – dear old Oddbins – which I’d almost given up on, has got a new spring in its step thanks to its sparky head wine buyer, Ana Sapungiu, who has come up with a really interesting range of wines of the kind you’d more expect to find in a decent wine merchant. If you’re a Francophile, you’ll love the Cheverny Domaine du Salvard 2012 (£10.50; 12% abv), a crisp Loire sauvignon with a touch of passion fruit, and a well-priced alternative to sancerre; and Oddbins also has strong showings from Portugal, South Africa and Chile. You’d be hard-pushed, for example, to find a better £10 winter red than its Manz Platónico 2012 (14% abv), a smooth, ripe blend of touriga nacional, aragones, syrah and castelao from the Alentejo in Portugal. It’s a wine you could even drink with – dare I mention it? – turkey. Both these wines are also available online. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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