Coinstar Wine Challenge at Sainsbury’s

I don’t buy that much wine from the supermarkets. I miss the chat and banter you have with the independent guys, or the ability to look for information and reassurance when shopping online. Okay, you can stand in front of the supermarket fixture on your phone hoping there’s a decent signal but that’s not really that much fun is it? When I do buy from supermarkets I tend to go for their own-label “premium” labels; you know the ones, Tesco “Finest” or Sainsbury’s “Taste the Difference”. These labels are generally well sourced and offer very decent value, usually under a tenner.

However there is a time when only the supermarket will do… Because only at your local supermarket can you find the genius that is the Coinstar machine! We have a piggy bank (her name is Waldette) in our dining room into which goes all the spare change from the day just passed. If it’s lucky the pig gets fed a £2 coin, but generally has to make do with coppers and the odd ten-pence piece… then the takings are taken to Sainsbury’s, converted into a cash voucher, which is duly spent on wine! The key is to wait for the 25% off everything promotion to come round to get the best value from your pig!

All seems so easy doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. Because being a Complete Geek, and not just simple a Wine Geek, there has to be rules; and these are they:

1. The total Coinstar output is the budget. Not part of the budget. The entire budget.

2. The budget has to buy 6 X 750ml bottles. This is why it makes sense to wait for the 25% off deals as they usually call for a minimum purchase of 6 bottles

3. The 6-bottle selection must consist of 3 white and 3 red.

4. For this challenge I only allowed myself to purchase wines from the Taste the Difference range (I will be less offended if you break this rule).

These are my own rules of course and they by no means bind you… But if I do hear you’ve broken them, I will hunt you down and smash your piggy into millions of little pieces!!

Here’s how it happened:

Stage 1

Waldette was put on the “wine shrine” to bring me luck in this most difficult of challenges.


Stage 2

I found the nearest Coinstar machine to me, which is in my local Sainsbury’s (there really is a website where you can search by postcode).

Stage 3 

The search for the Coinstar machine and the tipping of that money like there’s no tomorrow… watching the total rise… and rise… and rise…


Stage 4

Pray you won’t have to go for the 3 for £10 option! This challenge ended up with a budget of £37.95. Or £6.32 per bottle… or £8.43 with the 25% discount.


Stage 5

Get to work!


We started with the whites; the Gruner Veltliner (£7.49/£6.62) and Albarinho (£7.99/£5.99) went straight into the trolley as they are 2 of my favourite varieties and offer consistent quality. I’ve read lots of good stuff about the Hunter Valley Semillon, and the Gewürztraminer looked an interesting option, but The Fish decided she fancied the Muscadet… and it was cheaper (£6.99/£5.24) than the alternatives, leaving a bigger budget for the reds.

I just had to have the Priorat – I haven’t had a bad one and again I’d read a couple of good things about this one. That was expensive (£10.99/£8.24) so it was time to balance the books and the Carmenere (£6.99/£5.24) felt right, especially now the cold has struck. Finally it was battle of the Rhones … Cotes du Rhone vs. Crozes Hermitage; time to read those labels. Chapoutier may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he does make some fantastic wine – his name on the label was enough to tip the balance in favour of the Crozes (£9.79/£7.34).

Much to my amazement, the first 6 choices came to £50.24… or £37.68 with 25% off… That’s 27p under budget… first time of asking… Bloody brilliant… Even if the wine stinks I will still feel like a winner!!

Stage 6

Time to the drink the stuff. All in all I’m very impressed with the wines – 5 out of 6 are definitely on my “buy again” list. Most of these wines are great value at their listed price… with 25% off there are some genuine bargains to be found.


Taste the Difference Crozes Hermitage 2010, Rhone, France (£7.34 was £9.79)

I would happily pay the full price for this wine – plenty of dark cherry fruit, spicy pepper and smoky notes and a delightful whack of acidity and soft, juicy tannins. A real charmer and at the promo price it’s a giveaway. 92 points

Taste the Difference Priorat 2009, Priorat, Spain (£8.24 was £10.99)

It’s hard to find Priorat under a tenner… Never mind £8.24! But this is fab. Blackberries, black currants and a touch of damson jam, but there’s also a fabulous savoury edge and an earthy minerality.  Refreshing acidity, nicely judged oak and balanced powdery tannin. This is still a young wine and unfortunately none of it will see its prime; but so what, it tastes really good right now. 91 points

Taste the Difference Fair Trade Carmenere 2012, Chile (£5.24 was £6.99)

I’m a big fan on Carmenere – whereas most people seem to have a thing for Malbec, this Chilean charmer is my South American go-to… But not this one. The aromas are delightful – blue and black concentrated fruit, jammy but not overdone. But the only way to describe the palate is green and lean. There is a green pepper bitterness that overtakes all of the fruit and the texture is thin. I so wanted to like this. 81 points

Sainsburys Taste the Difference Muscadet 2012, Loire, France (£5.24 was £6.99)

Muscadet is a much underappreciated wine, which in some ways is great because it keep s the price down. Quite grapey on the nose but the it explodes in the mouth with citrus and apple zestiness, which is nicely balanced with the slightly yeasty complexity that comes through from the lees-contact. Really classy and classic example and another bargain for sure, promo or not. 90 points

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Albarino 2012, Rias Baixas (£5.99 was £7.99)

Very aromatic nose with apples, nectarines and even a hint of white flowers. There’s a rich mouth-feel that is very pleasant and there’s plenty of lively apple freshness, peachy depth and a mineral and salty finish. Not bad at all – a fantastic Wednesday wine! 89 points

Taste the Difference Gruner Veltliner 2012, Austria (£6.62 was £7.49)

Refreshing citrus and peaches with a delightful spritz and white peppery finish. This is a wine that does what it says on the tin and should be applauded at this price. Lacks the complexity and body of the Moosbergerin from Waitrose, for example, but it is almost half the price. Very decent indeed 88 points

About Confessions of a Wine Geek

Posted on November 9, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. If only we had Coinstar (or even wine in supermarkets) here. Loved this post.

  1. Pingback: #NWTW Week 2: Chilean Carménère (Part Two) | Confessions of a Wine Geek

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