Home brand wines: what you need to know

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Home brand wines – they are increasingly prevalent on the shelves of Australia’s major wine retailers. However, they are very difficult to spot compared to most other home brand products. It can be pretty easy to pick up a bottle of seemingly great value wine from a big brand wine store or bottle shop and go right through the cash register without realising that your wine was bought in bulk, packaged and re-branded with a fictional winery name by a major shopping chain. So, next time you are in a bottle shop and looking at a wine, ask yourself: “Is this really what is seems?”

Major grocery chains like stocking their own home brand wines because the margins are so much better; the grocery chains effectively take more of the ‘cut’ that is usually earned by a winery. It’s not that the home brand wines are bad, it’s just that they are less transparent for you the consumer, and they don’t support wineries as much as genuine winery brands.

How are home brand wines made? Basically, a supermarket chain packages and brands some wine it may have purchased on the bulk wine market, or has procured by contract with various wineries. So the wine itself can be produced by an independent winery or a winery that is part of a conglomerate. However, importantly, those wineries choose not to put their own name against the wine, but rather prefer to sell it off in bulk.

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A core approach of Wine Wisdom Made Easy is to help you cut through the jargon, noise and spin to pick the best value wines you can every time. So I recommend avoiding home brand wines if buying online or in-store at major liquor chain retailers like Dan Murphys, First Choice, BWS, Vintage Cellars, Liquorland or the online retailer Cellarmasters (owned by Woolies). These places are still great for buying wine (and I shop at them myself), but it is just a matter of being on guard for the home brand wines when shopping there.

A list of home brand wines that are currently stocked by Coles and Woolies liquor outlets like Dan Murphys, First Choice, BWS, Vintage Cellars and Liquorland has been published by Huon Hooke and Bob Campbell on their excellent site, The Real Review.

How do you spot a home brand wine among thousands that are presented to you in any major retail liquor store? Well, it’s not easy. Check out this article on wine labels for more detail.