Best food and drink: taste test winners gallery November 2013
Top store cupboard essentials revealed
- The best food and drink products from our expert Which? taste tests
- We reveal the top sirloin steak, chocolate digestives, sausages, wholebean instant coffee and more
- Top store cupboard essentials including balsamic vinegar and tomato soup
Expert food and drink taste tests
We've tested food ranging from everyday store cupboard essentials, such as tomato soup, to more expensive luxury buys like Champagne and sirloin steak.
The results are often surprising. Sometimes supermarket own labels beat well-known brands and we find cheap products taste better than more expensive rivals.
We publish full results of our taste tests in Which? magazine. If you're not a member, discover the benefits of a £1 trial of Which?, including instant access to all of our online product reviews and advice.
Best Champagne and sparkling wines
Our taste test results for Christmas 2013 ensure you don't waste money on a bottle that will leave you feeling flat. We reveal a £21.99 Best Buy Champagne which beat big-name rivals. Our experts also awarded Best Buy status to five sparkling wines, all under £10.
Find out which Champagnes and sparkling wines are Best Buys in our review of Champagnes.
Best mince pies
Aldi Specially Selected Luxury Mince Pies (78%)
Lidl Snowy Lodge 6 Luxury Mince Pies (70%)
M&S Handcrafted Ultimate All Butter Mince Pies (70%)
Our experts, Dan Lepard, Gerhard Jenne, Will Torrent and Patrick Moore, rated three luxury mince pies as Best Buys.
Both Aldi and Lidl mince pies tasted good, looked great with their snowflake design and are also cheap. Aldi's mince pies work out at just 28p a pie. M&S mince pies are more expensive (£1 a pie) but are a thinner style of mince pie and their uneven finish means you could pass them off as homemade. See the full results of our expert taste test, including gluten-free options, in our review of mince pies.
Best cream of tomato soup
Sainsbury's Cream of Tomato Soup
Tesco Cream of Tomato Soup
Aldi Soupreme Cream of Tomato Soup
Three supermarket tomato soups have beaten Heinz in our latest taste test, according to the palates of 100 members of the general public.
Sainsbury’s Cream of Tomato Soup earned the top score of 76%, with several tasters commenting on its distinct tomato taste, thick consistency and smooth, creamy texture. Tesco’s variety came a close second with 74%: several panellists described it as having a tangy kick and ‘just right’ texture.
Aldi’s Soupreme Cream of Tomato Soup scored 72% with some of its fans commenting on its ‘rich’, ‘sweet’ and ‘strong’ tomato taste. Aldi’s version is one of the cheapest you’ll find in the supermarket and costs just 42p – less than half the price of a tin of Heinz Classic Cream of Tomato Soup.
Prefer to make your own tomato soup? Check out our jug blender reviews for the perfect gadget for tasty, smooth and lump-free soup.
Best wholebean instant coffee
Nescafé Azera Intenso
Wholebean instants are a new range of premium coffees containing a blend of instant coffee and finely ground coffee beans. Our expert coffee panel judged both offerings by Nescafé to be the best of the bunch, with our panel praising Best Buy Nescafé Azera for its 'malty, treacle, toffee aroma' and saying 'It doesn't taste like an instant'.
Our second Best Buy, Nescafé Azera Intenso, was commended for its 'spicy smell' and for being a 'good, all-round coffee'.
Although wholebean instant coffees offer more 'intensity and body' than a standard instant, our panel agreed that none had quite reached the quality of good ground coffee.
Best sirloin steak
Sainsbury's Taste the Difference 21 Day Dry Aged Ultimate British Sirloin
Our panel of meat experts tasted seven premium supermarket pre-packed sirloin steaks and the Sainsbury's Taste the Difference sirloin was the clear winner - it looked great raw and tasted wonderful when cooked.
It scored highest marks for appearance, aroma, tenderness, texture and taste. It's £23 per kg and scored 83% in our test. Tesco Finest Dry Aged British Beef Sirloin Steak (65%, £20 per kg) came second withour experts liking it's thickness and taste. In last place was Aldi Specially Selected 21 Day Matured Dry-aged British Sirloin Steak (47%, £18.90 per kg) with our experts having nothing good to say about its appearance, aroma, tenderness or texture.
Watch our video to find out how to cook the perfect steak on a barbecue.
Best milk chocolate digestives
McVities Milk Chocolate Digestives
Our taste test panel of 100 biscuit eaters rated 10 types of milk chocolate digestives, including brand leader McVitie's and its supermarket alternatives. Despite scoring the highest score of 73%, McVitie's has reformulated its digestives, so we can't can't award it a Best Buy Logo.
Waitrose Essential, Sainsbury's and Lidl Tower Gate Milk Chocolate Digestives all came a close second with just 2% less at 71%. And Lidl's biscuits are a real show-stopper for value - costing a third of the price of McVitie's at 59p a pack.
Find out how your other favourites did in our milk chocolate digestives taste test.
Best balsamic vinegar
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Aceto Balsamico di Modena 4 Leaf
The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
When it comes to buying balsamic vinegar, you tend to get what you pay for. However, our expert taste test of 21 vinegars have revealed that there are great bargains to be had.
Past winnersHere are some of the previous winners of our taste tests.
Napolina Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Best extra virgin olive oil
A total of 12 extra virgin olive oils were rated by three industry experts. Each oil was rated for its aroma, taste, balance and complexity.
The Good Little Company Great Big Sausages - Best sausages
Four sausage experts tested 17 premium plain pork sausages with an 80% or higher meat content to find the winner, comprising nine branded sausages and eight supermarket own-brands.
Asda Extra Special Fairtrade Colombian Roast Ground Coffee and Taylors of Harrogate Guatemala Cloud Forests Ground Coffee - Best ground coffee
A total of 16 premium ground after-dinner coffees were put to the test by three industry experts, who blind-tasted each coffee in two batches. They also assessed the aroma, appearance, body, sweetness and overall balance of the flavour.
Want to serve your own espressos, capuccinos and lattes? Find the right coffee machine for you with our coffee maker reviews.
Sainsbury's Tomato Ketchup - Best ketchup
We put 13 widely-available tomato ketchups to the test, asking 130 members of the public to blind-taste them. Generally, supermarket own-brand ketchups fared better than branded ones.
Aldi Del Rivo - Best orange juice
Our 100 testers drank 660 shots of orange juice from supermarkets and big brands such as Innocent and Tropicana. Each juice was rated for its taste, texture, aroma and appearance, then given an overall score.
If you'd rather make your own juice, check out our juicer reviews.
Lidl Vita D'Or Mayonnaise and Aldi Bramwells Real Mayonnaise - Best mayonnaise
We asked 100 consumers to taste six brands of real, or full-fat, mayonnaises from leading brands and supermarkets. Mayos were tasted with chips and scored for aroma, appearance, taste and texture.
However, if you feel like making your own mayonnaise, read our food processor reviews.
Marks & Spencer Belgian Collection - Best luxury boxed chocolates
An expert panel assessed nearly 200 chocolates, from premium supermarket own labels to branded luxury assortments.