“I suffer from claustrophobia, a fear of closed spaces.For example, I’m petrified that the wine store will be closed before I have time to get there!!!” – Comic Strip Mama.

As the school holidays are an expensive old time, I thought I would do the unthinkable and suggest some decent wines for under a tenner. Note: I didn’t say three for a tenner – one must maintain some standards) and even this dip into the bargain end of the wine world is a one-off so make the best of it folks!

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of several of the wines available under a tenner, but the closer I got to £7 the wines definitely became thinner and less satisfying. Then again, as I’ve pointed out many times before, the fixed costs and taxes make up a far bigger percentage of the sale price the closer you get to a fiver and it changes dramatically in your favour the higher you go.

There’s probably no surprise when I tell you that Australia came out on top for the quaffing wines with some real delights coming from Berri Estates and McPhersons. Berri Estates have a Merlot and Shiraz for under a tenner that are both literally just alcohol and rich fruit juice with no discernible tannins – to be honest, if there’s ever a Zombie Apocalypse I can heartily recommend filling your stolen Range Rover up with them. Other easy drinkers from the land down under include the Tyrrell’s Old Winery Series, the Normans Holbrook Road range and Leasinghams simply divine Jam Shed Shiraz.

Chile came a close second but mainly with two grapes, Merlot and Carmenere. Admittedly the winemakers still get the two mixed up on occasion but once vinified the differences are delightful if subtle. Chile has long since mastered Merlot and they produce some of the plummiest styles you can find in the bargain bucket but Carmenere, with its silky, alluring fruit, has become my guilty pleasure. It remains a surprise to me that many of the bargain bucket wines consumed in the UK still come from France because everything under £10 I tried this week and in the recent past was as rough as a docker’s socks and many of the ones with softer tannins were just too volatile on the palate to enjoy but heigh ho!


  • Berri Estates Merlot, Australia: Surely one of the softest wines on the market as well as the palate. Ripe plummy flavours, virtually no tannic edges and a soft jam-soaked finish. A lovely unchallenging midweek special. Richardson’s of Whitehaven, £9.95.
  • Valley Way Barossa Shiraz, Australia: A rich, lively nose with heaps of soft black fruits on the palate. A really lovely quaffer for the price, just don’t put it up against a steak. Aldi, £6.99.