Buying wine on a budget can be a minefield. One moment you’re congratulating yourself for locating a sub-£3 bargain, the next you’re discovering it was actually just cordial in a glass bottle. Ready your glasses oenophiles, the OxStu has stooped to the bottom shelf so you don’t have to.
La Prensa Spanish White Wine (11%, £4.15 for 1l)
In continental Europe, carton wine is simply a more cost effective way of buying the same wine. In the UK, it usually just means the packaging’s as crap as the wine. Fortunately, this cardboard cru bucks the trend. The “state of the art winery” where it’s made was never going to be the limiting factor, but there’s a good balance of sweet, fruity flavours and earthy notes (I’m not just stealing from the description, honest).
It’s not incredibly interesting, but it’s definitely wine and might even be described as enjoyable when chilled. Don’t be fooled by the price either, the tetrapack means there’s a full litre on offer here.
Tesco Spanish White (11%, £3.50)
It’s always suspicious when wines come from entire countries. Usually that just means a heady amalgamation of all the grapes that no one else wanted. Fortunately, Tesco’s Spanish White is a surprisingly crisp and drinkable affair, even when served at OxStu room temperature.
It may not quite have encompassed all of the citrus flavours that the label claimed, but it certainly made a rustic and refreshing addition to our third week depping session. Despite the ingredients’ curious assertion that the wine contains milk, then, it still beats pretty much anything else at the sub-£4 level.
Silver Bay Red (8%, £2.80)
You’re desperately buying props for drama cuppers and your only requirement is a glass bottle with something resembling wine in it. Honestly? I’d still dissuade you from resorting to Silver Bay. The bottle was sticky, and it was the least worst part. Age an open bottle of Ribena in a damp place for twenty years and it’d almost certainly be preferable to whatever sickly, quasi-medicinal liquid was masquerading as our wine in week two.
Made in rainy Britain from imported grapes, the claims that it complements “most tastes and moods” amount to a pretty damning indictment of their customers. And worst of all, at only 8% you’re not going to stop hating it halfway through either.
St Edmund Hall Sauvignon Blanc (12.5%, free?)
Ok, so this college-branded Chilean white is technically only free when you attend Teddy Hall journalism events and no one sticks around for the drinks afterwards. But the best wine is free wine, right? Especially when it’s made from “selected grapes from low yield vineyards, obtaining in this way high concentrations of aromas and flavours”, right?
Unfortunately the peach and pineapple flavours are as unmistakable as the all-caps blurb they’re quoted in, to the point that the wine’s actually unpleasantly sour. Not in an off way, but in the vein of those sweets you might buy when you’re thirteen. Dep Ed Dan says: “I see where they get pineapple from.”
Merlot, Veneto (12%, £4)
We’re just drinking a nice glass of wine in the office towards the end of 7th week when Laura weighs in. “Disgusting, I hate red wine,” she says. A friend, who’d had quite a bit of wine already that evening, quite likes it. “Oyster and plum, with a hint of nutella”, he says. And then, after a pause: “Quite harsh on the aftertaste.” It’s IGT, I say, how bad can it be? “I don’t care,” says Laura. “It’s red wine, it sucks anyway. I was forced to go to church for a decade and a half. I went to a Christian primary school and a Christian secondary school. And then I went all the way and got confirmed, and I was like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ So yeah, red wine. Chris should’ve bought white wine, I like white wine.”
“It’s red wine, it sucks anyway.”
If, unlike Laura, you can repress your unresolved religious issues and stomach a red wine, this Merlot’s not so bad.
Tesco Spanish Rosé (10.5%, £3.50)
With February at an end and the weather showing no signs of improvement, we turned to Tesco’s rosé for a spot of sunshine. The label said rosé, and it was sort of pink. “Delish with a tinge of mango. Reminds me of cheap booze and easy times,” said Laura. The label said strawberry and plum, but reactions were somewhat tinged by final issue celebrations and it was unfortunately one of the more cogent reviews. To my mind it didn’t taste like much at all, although we were drinking it unchilled on a rainy March evening. At a stretch, I’d say somewhere between school strawberry jelly and Turkish delight. Cheers.