As the sale season limps to a close, I have a couple of alternative money-saving ideas. Paying to go on a wine course might not sound like an economy measure, but learning how to taste and assess quality properly will save you money in the long run (even if you develop more expensive tastes). Michael Schuster runs excellent classes - beginners and fine wine - at Bordeaux Index in London and I’ve discovered you can offset the costs by signing up to wash the glasses at £10 an hour after each session (www.michaelschuster.com).
Idea number two: sign up as a ‘wine angel’ at www.nakedwines.com, a new business which founder Rowan Gormley likens to a combination of farmers’ market and Facebook. Wine angels pre-pay £5 a month towards a case of their chosen winemaker’s wines and get 33 per cent off the normal price. To kick off, they can also get six bottles of the winemaker’s wines for just £15.82 (the cost of duty and delivery). This strikes me as a bit more transparent than all the sham half-price offers that run almost continuously on big Australian and American brands.
2008 Raats Original Chenin Blanc, £5.66/£8.49
Delicious, dry, sappy South African white (www.nakedwines.com; £5.66 is the ‘wine angel’ price).
Warre’s Warrior Special Reserve Port, £8.99
Great value, richly fruity ruby which Michael Schuster shows on his beginners’ wine course (Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Booths).
2007 Domaine Haut-Lirou, Pic Saint-Loup, £6.99/£8.99
Stylish syrah-based French red with spicy, smoky, sweet fruit (Majestic; £6.99 if you buy two or more).