A student’s guide to cheap wine

Emily Beswick finds the best bottles for under a fiver

Apologies are first in order. Avid readers of our section may be disappointed at the lack of our regular restaurant review column this week—partly due to the infamous affliction of “Fifth Week blues”, but mainly because a review-able restaurant didn’t really fit with our £20 challenge (see food diary). Also, who really wants to eat out in seventh week anyway? It is definitely the week to save money for the mad rush of eighth week, while enjoying the penultimate series of club nights. In the spirit of this, your dedicated food and drink editors trawled through the wine aisle in Tesco to find the best bargain wines, as well as the ones to avoid at all costs.

Echo Falls Rose Summer Berries (£4)

A dependable wine for a night out, this is my default choice. The sweet fruity taste and intoxicating scent may be overwhelming for some, but the advantage of this wine is that it tastes just like juice—perfect for downing glasses at crew dates. If summer berries isn’t your favourite flavour, Echo Falls also offer strawberry and lime flavoured rose, as well as white grape, and white peach and mango white wine (£3.95). But stay away from the raspberry and cassis red wine—those flavours should never have been mixed together.

Tesco Spanish White Wine (£3.50)

I have a friend who swears by this wine—indeed, I would venture this is one of Oxford’s favourite cheap wines. At £3.50 it certainly is one of the cheapest, most reliable wines on offer. Although I couldn’t detect much evidence of “lemony apple flavours” or a “crisp, dry finish” (as advertised), this wine undoubtedly improved the more you drank. Usage advice: keep calm and carry on.

Tesco Australian Rose (£3.95)

After deciding to spend 45p more and upgrade from a Spanish to an Australian Rose, we were expecting this rose to be mildly drinkable. Unlike the Spanish white, this rose seemed to deteriorate in flavour the more you drank, which made it quite inconvenient at the crewdate I was on. The first few glasses were moderately awful, but the bitter, unpleasant aftertaste forced me to stop drinking completely.

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Tesco Cabernet Sauvignon (£4.25)

Finally, on to the reds. This wine certainly looked the part: the red lid and classy label gave the bottle a more expensive air. But the drink within was dire—supposedly “full of ripe, juicy berry flavours”, all I could perceive was the sour taste of regret. The moral of the story? Drinkable, cheap red wine is an oxymoron.