Like many other supermarkets Sainsbury’s is putting a lot of effort these days into its own-label white wine range. Wander along the supermarket off licence shelves or browse the wine section in the online groceries store and you will find a host of Sainsbury’s white wine styles at a wide variety of prices ranging from the budget Basics and House range to the upmarket Taste the Difference range.
Sainsbury’s was the pioneer of supermarket own-label wines in the 1970s and the concept really took off in the 1980s. Over the years the range has grown and been divided into different classifications to highlight differences in the white wine styles, quality and prices.
The Basics white wine is a medium dry table wine blended from grapes sourced from around Spain, including the Canaries and Balearic Islands. Retailing at just £3.39 it really is a budget white wine.
The House white wine range was introduced last year in response to the challenges of the recession. It is not much more expensive than the Basics range but offers a wider range of styles such as Soave, Pinot Grigio, Hock, Muscadet, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc along with a dry sparkling white wine. These House white wines are priced between £3 and £5 and offer a safe introduction to specific wine styles or a reliable and quaffable mid week bottle.
As well as the House range, Sainsbury’s has a good value range of white wine styles from around the world such as an Australian Chardonnay for £4.29; a French Anjou Blanc for £4.99; a Sicilian white wine for £4.49; a German Liebfraumilch Pfalz for £3.49 and a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for £3.99. Typical white wine styles from many of the world’s biggest wine making nations and regions are showcased at a price that is affordable enough to encourage customers to take a risk on a white wine they haven’t tried before.
Of course, the underlying aim behind these lower priced own-label white wine ranges is to encourage customers to move up to the better quality and more expensive Taste the Difference range once they have found wine styles they enjoy and wish to explore further. The Taste the Difference range is aimed at discerning customers who are more particular about which white wines they want to buy. The range includes many of the world’s great white wine styles at extremely competitive prices compared with equivalent estate branded bottles.
There are many excellent Taste the Difference white wines so it may be worth highlighting some of those which have won awards. There were two gold award winners at the International Wine and Spirit Competition 2011. The Taste the Difference 2005 Vintage Champagne, which sells for £25.99 and the Chablis Premier Cru, which costs £13.99, were both named as Best in Class. Taste the Difference silver award winners include the Bourgogne Aligote, Chablis and Pouilly Fume and there were several bronze medal winners.
Silver award winners at the 2011 International Wine Challenge (IWC) include the 2009 Petit Chablis, which is described by Sainsbury’s as “crisp and rounded with a good balance of acidity”. It retails for £8.09. The Sancerre was also a silver medal winner and sells for a good value £9.99. Two Taste the Difference sparkling white wines, the Prosecco Conegliano and the Vintage Champagne, also walked away with IWC silver medals. The Prosecco retails at £9.99. There were many Taste the Difference white wine IWC bronze medal winners including the Pouilly Fume, Coolwater Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Gruner Veltliner and many more white wines were commended.
The Gruner Veltliner and Coolwater Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc scooped silver medals at the Decanter awards, along with the Chablis Premier Cru. Many more of the Taste the Difference white wine range gained bronze medals and commendations from Decanter.
Added to these ranges of own-label white wines, Sainsbury’s has a small selection of own-label organic and Fairtrade wines. The So Organic range includes a Pinot Grigio for £6.99 and the Fairtrade whites include a Taste the Difference Chenin Blanc for £8.99 and a Taste the Difference South African Sauvignon Blanc for £7.99.
If you are unsure of your white wine styles Sainsbury’s has come up with a useful classification system to help you select your own label wine. The supermarket has divided its wines into seven different styles, four white and three red wine styles and each bottle bears a colour and classification on its label.
- “Crisp and delicate” white wines are identified with a light green colour. The wines are described as light, fragrant and easy-drinking and include styles such as Soave and Vin de Pays de Cotes du Gascogne.
- “Soft and fruity” white wines have a darker green colour on the label and are described as “full of flavour and packed with ripe fruit notes”. “Soft and fruity” wines include Australian Chardonnay and Vouvray.
- “Complex and elegant” white wines have blue on the label and are described as “fuller in style and richer in flavour”. White wines in this category include Sancerre and Gavi.
- “Sweet wine” examples are identified by yellow on the label and include Sauternes and Moscatel de Valencia.