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How much to pay

This is almost an unanswerable question because we all have different tastes and budgets – this influences our opinion of what may, or may not, be good value for money.  Regardless of your budget we hope that this information will help you to decide where your money is best spent!

How Much Should I Spend On A Bottle?
The ultimate question!  Only a bit of adventurous buying will help you to decide.  But the more you explore the world of wine the more choosy you’ll get!  One thing’s for sure, you get what you pay for – buy too cheaply and it will show.  Understanding where your money goes helps you get the best value.

How Can You Possibly Have A Wine That’s “Too Cheap”?
When almost all of what you spend goes towards things other than the wine itself.  Poor wine gives no pleasure at all and you’ll have wasted your money, so it’s best to know how to avoid it.  You need to be aware that you are paying for things that you don’t drink…..

So What Am I Paying For Exactly, Apart From The Wine?
The bottle is the obvious one, but then there’s the cork, capsule & label; the box that the bottles came in, the cost of getting it from the producer to you, and the pallet it was transported on, and the Chancellor’s cut of course!  There is also some profit for the retailer and producer in there somewhere.  If you are buying a major brand there is also a significant proportion of marketing spend to be paid for – any “comfort” you may have in buying a familiar name does have a cost.

What Do Corks, Bottles etc.cost?
This varies, but typical costs would be: cork: 10p, bottle: 20p, label: 8p, capsule: 3p, carton: 7p.  A total of 48p or so though longer corks (or indeed plastic ones) thicker bottles, better cartons or fancier labels (and back labels) will increase this cost.

How Much Tax Am I Paying?
UK duty (from February 2019) on a case of 12 standard bottles of table wine is £26.78 (£2.23 per bottle) but an element of the final price is vat which is calculated on the total cost including this duty, so you end up paying a tax on a tax!  On a £6.00 per bottle retail price you will pay £3.23 to the Chancellor (£1.00 of VAT and £2.23 of Excise Duty).  On a £7.50 bottle the tax is £3.48 (£1.25 VAT and £2.23 Excise Duty.  Moving up to £7.50, only 25p of the extra £1.50 you spend gets eaten up in tax which leaves £1.25p to go towards, amongst other things, the quality of the wine.  It’s worth remembering that the bottle, cork, capsule, cost of shipping etc. don’t necessarily cost any more on a bottle retailing at £7.50 than they do on one at £6.00.

So Should I Always Pay £7.50 Per Bottle?
No.  A lot depends on what you need the wine for.  If you’re throwing a party then a less expensive wine may do the trick (though if you go too low you really are living dangerously)!  It is worth remembering, however, that if you move up in price, even slightly, you should see a disproportionately large increase in the quality of the wine.

But I’ve Found A Wine I Like That Only Costs £6.00 A Bottle…
Fine.  And you may simply want to stick with it.  But life frequently offers us the chance to be a bit more interesting and wine is no exception.

So If I Spend More Again, Will The Quality Keep Going Up?
To an extent, yes – or at least it should! Once you go over about £12 you start paying for other things such as the prestige of a particular name, or producer.  Other wines may cost more because they are scarce.

Will A £12 Bottle Taste Twice As Good As One Costing £6?
This largely depends on you.  You ought to be able to tell the difference that’s for sure!  If you decide that you’re just as happy with the cheaper bottle then count yourself fortunate – you can buy twice as much!  Spending more is no guarantee that the wine will be better of course, but it does improve the odds considerably.

Is It Better To Buy In France?
Well, because of the way that the UK taxes are applied to wine the apparent savings made by buying on the continent are at their greatest at the bottom end of the market.  So if you’re less fussy about the quality and more interested in price then you’ll undoubtedly save money – especially on the mass produced plonk sold in the appropriately named “bladder packs”.  You should not ignore the cost of your time, fuel, hassle, and effort required to shop on the continent.  It might also be worth considering what you’ll do with all the wine you bought if, once you’re back home, it turns out to be foul.  UK Wine Merchants collectively reject thousands of wines every year and these have to be sold somewhere – many end up in foreign supermarkets waiting for price conscious Brits to snap up an apparent bargain. So tread carefully and be prepared for disappointments.

What Do Wines of Interest Think?
The short answer is that you should pay as much for wine as you can afford.  Keep well away from the bottom end of the market to reduce potential disappointments.  Be wary of suspiciously good bargains: it is simply not possible to make cheap Chablis for example.  There is usually a catch.  As a nation we are often poor at differentiating between what is cheap and what is good value – they are seldom the same thing and we are too often unprepared to pay for real quality when it is made available to us.  The response of mass retailers like the supermarkets is to fill their shelves with such products that can be made to hit particular price points, and limit their purchasing to producers of a size and mentality for whom continuity and price are more important than passion and taste.  Unfairly, at either £6 or £7.50 per bottle, the Chancellor makes more out of the sale than we do!  Above all, remember that specialists like us are not necessarily more expensive, have much better product knowledge and can buy from whichever small grower inspires us.  If you only ever tend to spend £6 to £7.50 on a bottle of wine we would encourage you to move up a bit, even if it’s only by 50p or so per bottle at first, because you should notice a significant and disproportionately high increase in the quality of the wine. Try it and see.

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