Having been to a champagne tasting this week I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought as to how good these headline-grabbing half-price champagne offers are.
Initally I got quite excited about them myself - Moet for £14, Bollinger for £18 (both at Morrisons, if they’ve not run out) sound like the deal of the decade. Certainly the visitors to the popular money site moneysavingexpert.com think so. Traffic has peaked at 1 million visitors a day this week with champagne being the most regularly viewed subject
But you need to pause a moment and ask how much these bottles are worth in the first place. The best known names like Bollinger and Louis Roederer now have a recommended retail price of around £37-£40 a bottle. Forty pounds a bottle. That’s ludicrously over-priced even allowing for the exchange rate.
The standard price for Averys Special Cuvee Brut which is blended in the Bollinger house style is £21.99 (and they’re bound to do some kind of an offer on it before Christmas). Sainsbury’s very decent Blanc de Noirs, which was recently only narrowly pipped at the post by Veuve Clicquot in a recent Which? tasting is currently selling for £14. (Moet incidentally only came 13th out of the 14 champagnes tested.) OK Avery’s and Sainsbury’s don’t have the cachet of a Bolly but are you prepared to spend an extra 15 quid a bottle for a label?
The champagne producers are not alone in these cynical pricing practices. Most leading brands of sparkling wine are also priced on the basis that they are going to be discounted. The standard price for Cordoniu Cava now is £11.99 enabling supermarkets to ‘slash the price’ to £5.99 (at which it’s a pretty good buy it’s fair to say) But consumers aren’t stupid as the recent demise of Wine Rack which routinely overcharged for wine in order to be able to discount it shows.
What the champagne houses offer - and have been immensely skilled at exploiting - is glamour and a sense of special occasion but don’t let the deals lure you into the idea that they're doing you any favours. If you merely want some simple party fizz I’d head to Majestic and buy the Underraga Brut from Chile at £4.99 or order some Lindauer Brut for £39.90 a case of six from Tesco (Oddbins has a few bottles of the even better rosé if you can track it down)
Have you succumbed any of the champagne offers yet? Will you? Or are you perfectly happy to serve a cheaper sparkling wine to your family and friends?