Wine: Aldi and Lidl are now giving the big boys a run for their money

glass of rose

The discount supermarkets have stepped up their game with expanded wine ranges, but you have to shop more carefully to grab a true bargain

You wouldn’t have believed it possible five years ago, but Aldi and Lidl are now setting the pace in the UK supermarket wine trade. Between them, the pair have 10% of the UK grocery market, with Aldi alone accounting for one in every 13 bottles of wine we buy.

For me, Aldi has the better basic range, though Lidl has been hugely clever in periodically refreshing its range with a limited-edition seasonal selection, the most recent of which has just gone on shelves. Like its predecessors, the new range has some unexpected wines (last Christmas, Lidl offered a Canadian ice wine at a remarkably good price), but this time I wonder if Lidl hasn’t been a tad overambitious. No fewer than 11 Hungarian wines feature in the new selection, and I wouldn’t have thought there was much demand for that. The standout bargain is a really delicious Késői Arany Tokaji 2013 (£8.99 for 50cl; 10% abv) that would be great with a light chocolate dessert; and, at £5.99, Château Dereszla’s fresh, dry Tokaji Furmint is good value.

Prices in Lidl’s Easter selection are also a bit toppier than they used to be. At £14.99, the rather over-oaky Château Jean de Gué Lalande-de-Pomerol 2012, for example, is by no means a giveaway. Far better to buy the elegant Axis Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (£6.49; 14.5% abv), from Australia’s Margaret River, or the cracking, rich and peppery 2015 Foremost Syrah (£8.99; 13.5% abv), from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. There’s also a great little South African chenin blanc/grenache blend called La Méridionale (13.5% abv) for £5.49, which would totally hit the spot as an after-work glass of white, and a really quaffable red Côtes du Ventoux (12.5% abv) for the same price. Avoid the new English wines, though, which are poor.

Aldi, meanwhile, has taken the decision to take its entire wine range online, to which they drew the attention of the press by means of a video on a personalised tablet, so must be spending some serious money on the project. I tried a couple of the new wines from the range: a rather dull Blanquette de Limoux (£7.99; 12% abv) – Lidl’s £6.99 Cremant de Limoux is a much better buy – and the beefy Métairie du Bois Corbières 2012 (decent enough, but no steal at £9.99; 14.5% abv) – and can’t say I was blown away by either.

These discount supermarkets’ appeal was always their limited range of wine at rock-bottom prices, and while it may be impressive that they’ve now broadened their offerings, don’t necessarily expect the same bargains.

Powered by article was written by Fiona Beckett, for The Guardian on Thursday 3rd March 2016 17.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010