You might assume that because Tesco is the UK’s largest supermarket, the wines will be commercial, uninspiring and mass-produced, aimed at the shopper who doesn’t really care what they’re drinking and simply makes a beeline for the latest offer. Happily that’s not the case. Although, like any supermarket, Tesco has its share of cheap and dull wines, its wine department is excellent at sourcing bottles across all styles that offer personality, interest and quality. And its purchasing power means that they are often keenly priced too – and that’s before any discounts for Tesco Clubcard holders or ‘25% off when you buy six bottles’ promotions.
Scroll down for scores and tasting notes of the best Tesco wines
The recent press tasting of the autumn/winter 2023 range confirms that the retailer continues to go from strength to strength in terms of its wine offering. The tasting showcased 150 wines: even that was only a snapshot of the total range, but it included a number of new vintages, and 18 wines that were completely new to the range, many perfect for drinking over the winter months.
Tesco Finest own-labels
As usual, Tesco’s own-label Finest wines, made in partnership with a variety of respected producers and cooperatives, feature prominently in our recommendations. The retailer works hard to ensure that these expressions of classic styles are priced competitively and show good typicity, and they’re a great way to explore different regional styles from both Old and New World, at all price levels. Highlights in the current line-up include 2017 vintage Champagne (£30), the spicy, nutty Viña del Cura white Rioja (£10), the cranberry-scented Central Otago Pinot Noir (£14), perfect to accompany your Christmas turkey, and the robust Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe (£21), a Rhône classic at an affordable price. Tesco is in the process of unveiling new label designs for many of its Finest wines – many of which are already available in store, with the remainder launching before next spring.
There are many leading estates behind Tesco’s Finest – Baron de Ley, for instance, who makes the white Rioja name-checked above, and Symington Family Estates, renowned for its portfolio of famous Port names and the big name behind the delicious and great-value 2013 Finest Vintage Port (£22). But beyond the own-labels, Tesco’s range includes many more wines from well-respected producers, including Australia’s Penfolds (with its Father Grand Tawny fortified wine at £26), Pomerol’s Clos l’Eglise with its second wine Esprit de l’Eglise 2013, £25 (note the bottle age – a great one to crack open over the holidays), and California Rhône ranger Bonny Doon with its stunning, £17 white blend, Le Cigare Blanc (the red is also excellent). These are all estates with a good reputation, and worth seeking out.
Spectrum of styles
At this time of year more than any other, wine lovers are reaching for a wide variety of styles, from sparkling wine and Champagne, through dry whites, rosé and reds, to sweet and fortified wines.
Let’s start with bubbly. The elegantly packaged Cava Segura Viudas is perfect for parties, affordable at £12 a bottle, but made using the Champagne method and displaying toasty, yellow apple fruit flavours. Or for something more upmarket, why not reach for the Louis Pommery English Sparkling wine (£28), to see what a Champagne producer can achieve on this side of the Channel? If sparkling rosé is more your preference, look to Provence producer Mirabeau for its rose-tinted La Folie fizz (£14).
Refreshing whites include the delicious, peachy and steely dry Riesling (£13) from leading German estate Schloss Vollrads, and Gérard Bertrand’s full-flavoured, lemony Picpoul de Pinet (£12.50) – the latter would work a treat with your Christmas seafood platter. Meanwhile Sauvignon Blanc fans are spoiled for choice: options include the Garuma Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (£11) from Chile’s Leyda, and two crackers from Marlborough, Cru’s classy Smith & Sheth Sauvignon Blanc (£18) and the more affordable Yealands Sauvignon Blanc (£10). For Chardonnay lovers – the Petit Chablis is great value at £16.50, made by the region’s leading and well-respected co-operative UVC.
Before moving to reds, a mention for Domaine d’Arbousset’s Tavel Rosé (£12.50), a deeper shade of pink, a fuller style but still fresh, juicy and dry – perfect for the colder months. Among the reds recommended below, a good-value southern Rhône wine made by the same producer, Domaine d’Arbousset’s Lirac (£12). Whizzing over to the New World, Tesco has a very strong selection from Chile and Argentina, including two Chilean own-labels (Finest Carmenere at £9, and Finest Merlot at £8.50) and a new Malbec from the Uco Valley, Gran Mascota (£14).
Lastly, it’s the holidays, so a great excuse to indulge in some sweet wine, Sherry and Port. Why not try serving the Finest Sauternes (£13.50) as an aperitif, with chicken liver on toast, instead of with the dessert course? Or pick up a half-bottle of the treacly Finest Pedro Ximénez (£6.50), probably the sweetest wine you’ve ever tried, and just bursting with the flavours of Christmas.
The 30 wines below are a tiny selection from Tesco’s enormous wine range, curated so that shoppers scrolling through on their mobile phones in the wine aisle aren’t overwhelmed. Inevitably this means that some old favourites have to make way for new recommendations. No room to include a full recommendation below, but those wines still on the shelves and previously recommended by Decanter include Loire Cabernet Franc, Les Terrases, from the appellation of St Nicolas de Bourgeuil, which is full of lively berry fruit and a hint of pepper, and only 12.5% alcohol – perfect for those who prefer a lighter style of red. Still on red, I’d also pick out the Finest Trilogy Malbec (£13), made by Catena; and Howard Park’s Margaret River Cabernet (£12). And for parties, the great-value Bergerac red, Eglise Saint Jacques (£7). Lastly, on the sweet side, the Finest Dessert Semillon is made by respected Aussie producer De Bortoli and is a complete bargain at £6.75 for a half-bottle.
Top wine buys at Tesco:
The 30 recommendations that follow are mainly new wines and new vintages tasted by Natalie Earl and Amy Wislocki in October 2023 at Tesco’s Autumn/Winter 2023 press tasting in London, as well as a few wines tasted by the Decanter tastings team at the spring/summer press tasting that are still available. All bottle prices are correct at time of publication.