When it comes to cheaper alternatives, there are no wine snobs allowed (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
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Not to give off grinch vibes, but Christmas is about to beat our finances to a messy pulp. So, instead of sitting ringside with our head in our hands, let’s fight back. Who’s with me?
I don’t mean shoplifting, nothing as extreme as that, but tricking our nearest and dearest into thinking we’ve spent way more than we have by buying cheaper alternatives that taste similar to famous brands. We’re not being deceptive, more entrepreneurial. Right?
A word of caution, being thrifty means getting shifty, I mean, creative. Red wine goes directly into a decanter before anyone arrives, as do white and rosé otherwise we give the game away. Capeesh? It doesn’t need to be an expensive decanter either, you can buy them cheaply online, heck, you can even use a vase. Also, take a look at my blender hack video to zhuzh up the reds, you can thank me later.
Without further ado, here are a few alternatives to get you cracking.
Real Thing – Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Brut, £50
Alternative – Crémant du Jura, £8.50, Aldi
This will fool even the snobbiest of wine snobs (Picture: Aldi)
I’ve been fooling people with this French fizz for years. Aldi’s crémant does a decent impression of Laurent Perrier, which sits around £50 a bottle and is made from 50% Chardonnay.
Aldi’s is 100% Chardonnay for under a tenner, made in a similar way with a ‘me-too’ peachy, citrussy flavour profile. Serve this out of sight, as the bottle looks nothing like Laurent Perrier’s.
Real Thing – Bollinger Special Cuvée £55
Alternative – Veuve Olivier Secret de Cave Champagne, £28, Asda
Hear me out, £26 may not seem super low compared to other cheaper alternatives, but it is, especially alongside Bolly’s £55. You do the maths.
Join Metro Drinks Club and save on wine
Fancy regular access to delicious drinks at tasty prices? Then welcome to the brand new Metro Drinks Club, brought to you in association with Naked Wines.
To mark this exciting occasion, Metro’s wine expert Rob Buckhaven has selected a series of cases from the Naked Wines range – offered at a very special price to Metro Drinks Club members.
Choose between a red, white and mixed 12-bottle case, or splash out on all three, to gain access to the Metro Drinks Club.
For £64.99 per case, including free delivery, you’ll get a best-in-market deal and save over £100 off the market price.
How to join – and save over £100 on your first case
Purchase any Metro Drinks Club case and you’re in the club, though you can opt out at any time.
Read more here.
Follow the link to Metro Drinks Club at Naked Wines to join and purchase your case.
Plus, it’s a silver medal-winning and legitimately delicious fizz that will blow everyone’s minds. Rich and opulent, with flavours of shortbread and salted apricot you could also kind of get away with saying this was Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, though that’s more of a stretch.
Real Thing – Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé, £75
Alternative – Simpsons of Servian Sparkling Rosé 2021, £14.99, Naked Wines
I would sip Billecart Rosé for breakfast, lunch and din-dins and call it my five-a-day. Basically, an alternative has some large shoes to fill, so it doesn’t go to any old sparkling rosé.
Married couple team, Charles and Ruth Simpson have whipped up a traditional method Pinot Noir sparkling rosé delivering wild strawberry and Chantilly cream bubbles bursting on your tongue. I could two-time Billecart for this.
Real Thing – Sancerre, £35+
Alternative – Coteaux de Giennois Sauvignon Blanc, £10, Sainsburys
Sancerre is the name on everyone’s lips as the posher antidote to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The region IS the brand, not unlike Chablis, but we’re generally talking over £30 a bottle.
This trade secret stays between us (Picture: Sainsburys)
Here’s a trade secret, Coteaux de Giennois is a sub-appellation of the Loire, neighbouring Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, making wines that are super similar but micro-priced. This stays between us though…
Real Thing – Chablis £35+
Alternative – Extra Special Barossa Valley Chardonnay, Asda
Ever heard someone say, ‘I hate Chardonnay but I love Chablis’? Newsflash, they love Chardonnay. In fact, Chablis is about the purest form of Chardonnay, with no oak to fumble the flavours and a tautness like an alpine zip wire.
Alternatives-wise, this Chardonnay is from a cooler part of the Barossa Valley in Australia, with an intensity that stays with you, like plugging a fresh lime into the mains. In a good way.
Metro’s drinks expert Rob Buckhaven shares his budget-friendly picks (Picture: Natasha Pszenicki)
Real Thing – Chateau Miraval, £20
Alternative – Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Île-de-Beauté Rosé, Sainsbury’s, £9
We could go with Whispering Angel, or any Provence rosé with a mega-budget. Brad Pitt’s Chateau Miraval will do though, it’s topical, well made and as juicy as the drama surrounding it.
My point is, south of Provence lies Corsica, nicknamed the Ile de Beauté, which makes Provence-style rosé possibly even better than Provence. There’s high altitude for freshness, Mediterranean climate for ripeness and local grape varieties for je ne sais quoi.
Real Thing – The Chocolate Block, £24
Alternative – Marc Kent Winemaker Series ‘The Red’, £9.99, Naked Wines
To get everyone up to speed, The Chocolate Block is a cult South African wine that sells out instantly. Their winemaker is a chap called Marc Kent, um, hang on a minute. You mean the same person who produced the alternative, with the same Rhône-style blend of grapes, at under half the price?
Yes, yes and yes. Marc has gone solo, producing an easy-drinking red with a dash of viognier for richness.
Real Thing – Tignanello Toscana, £150
Alternative – Specially Selected Toscana Rosso, £9.69, Aldi
I’m tardy for the party as this cheaper wine alternative has been doing the rounds for months. Even the label is similar to Tignanello’s, allegedly, the famous flagship wine of revered Italian producer, Antinori.
Megan Markle loves the stuff, the original that is, but would she be fooled by this? Who cares, it makes a great conversation piece and is actually pretty delicious, smooth and floral with sour cherry notes.
Save some money with these budget-friendly picks.