ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Supermarkets like Sainsbury’s have their own value wine. It’s normally in a large bottle and very cheap. What is the difference between this wine and more expensive wine?

—Katherine, Nottingham, England

Dear Katherine,

Less expensive wines typically cost less to make. I don’t know about Sainsbury’s wines in particular, but in general, many of the brands you see in the supermarket are made from grapes that are grown with higher yields and in less desirable locations than the grapes used for more premium labels. Instead of expressing a single type of grape from a single vineyard site, these wines are probably blended from several vineyards, or even from several types of grapes. You can cut down on the cost of barrels by using alternatives like oak chips, and cut down on the cost of grapegrowing by buying grapes or even already-made wine on the bulk market. The packaging is probably modest, and they aren’t spending a lot of money on marketing or advertising.

That’s not to say that supermarket wine is bad, it’s just a different expression of wine. If you want to drink wine that comes from special vineyard sites, made by top winemakers in a no-expense-spared winery, you’re going to have to pay more. But for solid values and innocuous quaffs, there are plenty of good buys to be found on the wine aisle. You just need to find something that matches your palate and your wallet.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories