Just how do wine prices actually vary from supermarket to supermarket?
I have sometimes been criticised by readers of this column both for focusing most of the time only on wines in the mid to high price range and for using Apolónia supermarkets as my price reference. This is a question of choice for me. I buy the wines myself (apart from the very rare occasions when a producer sends me a sample that I wish to write about), and I do not very often find cheap wines interesting enough to write about. And as for Apolónia, well, they have the best selection of wine, some 2,000 labels in total, making my job of finding a different wine to write about each week a little easier.
But last week a reader challenged me to visit a few different supermarkets and actually compare some prices; and here is what a whistle-stop tour around my local (Lagoa) Jumbo, Pingo Doce, Aldi, Apolónia and Intermarché supermarkets revealed.
My first stop was Jumbo, and for those looking to save a few cents and have a reasonable selection of wine, this is one of the best options. Most prices, in general, are slightly lower than at the other supermarkets mentioned here, but certainly not enough so to make it worth a dedicated wine shopping visit.
Let’s take Deu La Deu Alvarinho, one of the best value-for-money Alvarinhos out there; €5.76 at Jumbo, €5.89 in Pingo Doce, €6.49 in Intermarché and €6.99 in Apolónia. They don’t stock it in Aldi, but this is typical of the price variations I discovered comparing a few of the different mainstream labels. Another one I compared was the reliably good Douro red Duas Quintas from Ramos Pinto: €10.39 at Jumbo, €10.99 at Aldi and €11.99 at Apolónia.
As far as the local supermarkets in this area go, Aldi has a very poor selection and generally the prices are no lower for the same wine than at the other big supermarkets. Our local Pingo Doce has an equally poor selection and prices in general seemed to be amongst the highest. Intermarché may not have the vast selection offered at Apolónia, but prices are competitive and there is a very good choice covering all of Portugal’s main wine regions and even a few wines from France and elsewhere.
But when it comes to choice, and the service offered by the knowledgeable wine staff who are always there to offer advice, Apolónia wins hands down. This does come at a small premium, but stocking such a huge selection of wine and employing and training dedicated staff costs money. Happy shopping!
By Patrick Syuart