An unofficial ranking of Mainsbury’s white wines

Providing you with beverage options just in time for exam term…

As a connoisseur of cheap wine I have been slowly and organically working my way through the bottom shelf of Sainsbury’s wine section.

I, as an opinionated but fundamentally uninformed wine-lover, landed upon the idea of sharing my recommendations with the thirsty people of Cambridge.

I am aware of my biases and therefore decided to recruit my friends to add some depth of opinion. Luckily, we had a rowing dinner (yes I row, sue me) which was the perfect occasion for the beginning of the most chaotic and ill-informed wine tasting ever to be conducted.

What follows is a ranking of white wine based essentially on our first scent reactions, taste and price-point.

Two important notes: these wines were consumed by a number of people over a number of weeks and also none of us have any wine expertise so take any opinions with a grain of salt.

Don’t worry, I hear your pleas… (Image source: Author’s own screenshot via Camfess)

10. Blossom Hill

Price: £5

Smell: 2/10 

“Wow” (Alice), “Smells like a mediocre party” (Ella)

Taste: 1/10 

“Not very nice” (Alice), “More bitter than I expected” (Ella)

Other comments: “I did not like that one” (Lauren), “Not a taste I want to experience again” (Alice)

Overall rating: 1.5/10

Some momentary happiness (Image credits: Ella Sheddick)

9.  Vina Araya

Price: £5.35

Smell: 4/10 

“Smells like yellow” (Alice), “I can’t smell it” (Calum – he then tested positive for Covid a day later)

Taste: 3/10

‘Tastes like medicine but not in an awful way” (Ella),”Quite peachy!” (Flynn), “Did you ever just drink sugar syrup as a joke? It tastes like that” (Calum) 

Other comments: “How much did you pay for that?” (Flynn), “Very very very very sweet” (Alice), “Why is it so yellow?” (Ella)

Overall rating: 3.5/10

8. Vina Maipo Chardonnnay

Price: £4.75

Smell: 4/10

“Wine” (Calum), “I wanted to have something better to say than wine but it literally just smells like what you think wine will smell like” (Ella)

Taste: 3.5/10

“Sour'” (Calum), “Kinda tastes like nothing” (Ella)

Other comments: “It’s fine” (Calum)

Overall rating: 4/10

The winey-est wine that Mainsbury’s has to offer (Image credits: Ella Sheddick)

7. Wollemi 

Price: £4.60

Smell: ?/10

Our curry had arrived at this point so the overriding smell was curry. We couldn’t get much from the wine. “Smells like curry” (Ben)

Taste: 5/10

“Doable” (Ben), “I can drink it like I drink water” (Manav)

Other comments: “Wollemi is a funny name” (Ben)

Overall rating: 5/10

6. Penguin Sands

Price: £4

Smell: 5/10 

“Negligible” (Joe)

Taste: 5/10

“Can’t even feedback. It is so inoffensive. Not great though” (Ella), “I kind of think it tastes like wine-flavoured cordial rather than wine… I can’t explain why though.” (Joe), “Doable” (Alice)

Overall rating: 5/10

Just a label appreciation for this wine.. it didn’t taste great but wow is it pretty (Image Credit: Ella Sheddick)

5. Black Tower

Price: £5

Smell: 4/10

“Sickly sweet” (Calum), “Fruity” (Flynn), “Like apples” (Ella)

Taste: 6/10

“Floral, more acidic than I prefer” (Joe), “Very average” (Calum), “Tastes a bit like Schloer” (Alice)

Other comments: “It almost tastes like fruit juice” (Ella), “Tastes fizzier than most wine” (Joe)

Overall rating: 5/10

4. McGuigan Estate Chardonnay

Price: £5.10

Smell: 4/10

“Sour” (Ella), “Sour grapes” (Alice)

Taste: 6/10

“Actually nice” (Ella), “Sour but not too sour” (Alice)

Other comments: “Vivid yellow” (Ella)

Overall rating: 5/10

Happiness after a rowing dinner, fuelled by Montpierre Reserve (Image credits: Eleanor Vincent0)

3. Montpierre Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Price: £7

Smell: 7/10

 “Very strong wine smell” (Ella), “Smells like something I’d like to drink” (Alice)

Taste:  6/10

“Very sour but somehow still nice” (Ella), “Strong but sort of good?” (Alice)

Other comments: Pricey…

Overall rating: 6.5/10

2. Stoneberg Sauvignon Blanc

Price: £4.85

Smell: 8/10

“Not an overwhelming sense of smell” (Calum), “Nice and light” (Ella), “Bitter but also sweet” (Alice)

Taste:  6/10

“Fizzy” (Ella), “Easy to down” (Kat), “Actually on reflection I don’t love the aftertaste” (Kat), “Metallic?” (Alice)

Other comments: “Really nice immediate taste… a bit weird after a sip” (Ella)

Overall rating: 7/10

Me proudly clutching the winning wine (Image Credits: Alice Drury)

1. Orvieto Classico

Price: £5.75 

Smell:  8/10

“High quality” (Will), “Smells like the same way that cinnamon does” (James)

Taste: 8/10

“Fruity!” (Conal), “Really easy to drink” (Will), “Sweet *excited squeal*” (Kat)

Other comments: “Soft” (James), “Light” (Conal), “So good I would have paid £7” (Alice)

Overall rating: 8/10 – our winner!

Do I have any conclusions from this? Probably that I, and my assorted friends, have no real wine expertise and that cheap wine overwhelmingly tastes cheap. There are, however, some real gems to be found on Mainsbury’s shelves… maybe Easter term will see me conduct a part two with red wine. 

Feature image credits: Alice Drury 

Related articles recommended by the author: