Animus Vinho Verde, Portugal 2018 (£4.79, Aldi) Mid-January is a time when most of us are hunkering down and looking to save a few pennies after the splurges of last month. And a question that might emerge as we ponder where to cut our spending while waiting for the fateful pat of the credit card bill on the doormat: is it actually possible to enjoy wine on the cheap anymore? Since February last year, a remarkable 61% of the price of a £5 bottle of wine is made up of duty and VAT (that’s the £2.23 flat duty rate plus 83p in VAT). So when you factor in the costs of packaging and transport (as well as the supplier’s and retailer’s margins, however thin they may be), there can be little wonder that drinking pleasure at this price point has become increasingly hard to come by. Hard, but as Aldi’s perky, citrussy, light Portuguese white proves, not entirely impossible.

Waitrose Rich and Intense Italian Red, Puglia, Italy NV (£4.99, Waitrose) Although both Aldi and Lidl have been adding (often very good) bottles at higher prices, the German discounters are still more or less synonymous with the cheaper end of the market with which they made their name – and they are still masters of the unglamorous art of sourcing bottles that are more than merely drinkable while still giving change from a fiver. Quite a lot of change in the case of Lidl’s Cimarosa South Africa Pinotage 2018, a wine that calls for that quaintly euphemistic wine critics’ term gluggable: ie a…

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