Prices might start not at a euro, but head down the aisle and you will soon be transported back to the gite or villa, writes Christine Austin.
It happens every year. Friends just back from their holidays delight in telling me about the wines they have enjoyed, which are usually the best wines they have ever tasted, costing just one euro a bottle.
When they get home they always ask why isn’t this wine on the shelves of their local supermarket, and can I help the producer get his wine into a local shop so they can continue to buy it?
Apart from the fact that there are not enough hours in the day to help a whole range of small French, Italian and Spanish producers open up an export market, there are probably lots of reasons why these wines are not available locally.
To start with, the main attraction of holiday drinking is precisely that. Anything bought in the sunshine, at a local market or direct from the producer always tastes better than something that you take from a supermarket shelf in the UK. This applies to all kinds of produce, from peaches to lettuces, and especially wine.
The real test of holiday drinking is to bring some home, which is difficult by plane, but easy if you just load a few bottles into the car at the end of the trip. Allow the wine to settle for a couple of weeks and then taste it. If it still conjures up the scents of the hills in Provence, Chiantishire or the Languedoc then you may have discovered a gem. If on a wet weekend in Barnsley, York or Leeds, it seems to have lost its charm, then perhaps the holiday added an extra layer of magic to the flavours.
Then think about cost. A bottle sold direct from the grower has no marketing costs, no agents, transport and no UK duty and VAT. These can add £4 or more to that one euro bottle of wine, making it a lot less attractive to the household budget. And then there is always the chance that your favourite grower doesn’t have enough wine to interest a UK retailer. If he sells all he can make in his local market, especially during the holiday season, then why would he want the hassle of dealing with the notoriously difficult UK market?
So bring your bottles home and enjoy them, possibly while looking at your holiday photos and if you can’t carry them home then there are plenty of good wines that might just act as holiday souvenirs.