Everyone likes a deal, especially at this time of year. When it comes to wine, you don’t have to risk life and limb in a Tesco-style stampede to pick up a bargain.
Wine retailers have caught onto the fact that selling wine en vrac – loose, in English, for want of a better translation – can be a money spinner.
Take the En Vrac wine shops in Paris, for example. There’s one on Rue de l’Olive in La Chapelle, east of Montmartre (18th arrondissement) and another on Rue Maubeuge, near the Gare du Nord (10th).
They sell wine in bottles that you simply fill from stainless steel tanks. You can drink the wine there or take it away. You can also bring in your own bottles and fill them.
They sell a range of wines from all over France in this way – from Burgundy to Bordeaux, from the Loire to the Languedoc.
The stores’ owner says he was inspired by his childhood memories of accompanying his father as he bought wine in bulk. He’s done rather well from it, and Time Out Paris recently voted it the city’s best bar of 2014.
“They sell wine in bottles that you simply fill from stainless steel tanks. You can drink the wine there or take it away”
Damon and I have been buying wine en vrac for some years now. We visit local producers in the Bergerac area who sell ‘bag in box’ wine, as they call it. We pay around €2 a litre – which makes it extremely good value midweek drinking wine.
The idea of selling wines en vrac seems to be catching on. In my hometown of Brighton, my favourite wine bar, Ten Green Bottles, has begun selling wine in this way. You can take in a bottle and fill it for around a fiver. That puts it on a par with what you might pay for a supermarket wine.
The advantage is that you won’t get trampled by other bargain-hunters as you try to buy it, though – or, at least, not yet.