Two supermarket red wines are good enough to be named Which? Best Buys this Christmas. Both cost less than £8
Our experts sampled 11 red wines – all very different – to find the best winter tipple.
Our two Best Buy red wines are rich and full-bodied. One is juicy, smoky and smooth and perfect for pairing with roast beef, partridge, cheese, steak or lamb shank.
The other is a beautifully soft accompaniment to beef stew, fillet steak, game and hard cheese.
Read on for more on what we tasted and our expert wine tips.
Or go straight to our full review of best red wines where you’ll also discover the best red wine to pair with your Christmas turkey.
How we found the best red wines
We asked each supermarket to put forward a red wine that they considered perfect for the cold winter months. It could be vintage or non-vintage, but had to be own-label or exclusive and within the £4.99 to £9 price range (though one was afterwards priced at £4.50).
Here’s the full list of red wines we tested:
- Aldi Number 9 Blend GSM, £7
- Asda Casa Luis d Gran Reserva, £4.50
- Co-op Irresistible Pinot Noir, £8
- Iceland Colossal Reserva 2016, £8
- Lidl Shiraz Barossa Valley, 2017, £6
- M&S Burra Brook Merlot 2017, £7
- Morrisons Malbec, £5
- Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Chianti Classico, £9
- Spar Regional Selection Languedoc Red 2017, £7
- Tesco Finest Argentinian Malbec 2017, £7.50
- Waitrose Triade Negroamaro/Primitivo/Nero di Troia 2015 Puglia, £9
Three narrowly missed out on our Best Buy recommendation so are definitely worth a taste.
One of those is rich, ripe and oaky, another sweet, with flavours of fruit, pepper and eucalyptus, but ultimately less exciting than the top-scorers.
The third was gentle, with a fresh aroma reminiscent of strawberries, but our experts felt it wasn’t as suited to drinking in winter as those we made Best Buys.
Three expert red wine tips
- How to pep up a dull, screw-top wine
Screw-top red wine can go dull, flat and sulphurous when it’s lacking oxygen. To pep it up, try pouring a bit out, putting the cap on it, and giving it a good old shake.
- How to serve a bitter wine
The tannins in wine come from grape skins, pips, stalks, and from ageing wine in wooden barrels. Tannins give wine its bitterness and complexity, but wines with high tannin content may taste harsh and unappealing alone, making them less suitable for drinking at a party with just a few crisps and peanuts than lower tannin wines. Instead, drink them alongside protein such as meat or cheese, which will make them mellower.
- What to do with leftover wine
If you do have more wine than you can get through before it goes vinegary, boil it up, let it cool, then freeze the wine reduction in ice cube trays. That will save you having to open a new bottle next time you’re cooking something that calls for a splash of wine.
Our panel of wine experts
- Charles Metcalfe – wine taster and co-chair of the International Wine Challenge (IWC)
- Kathryn McWhirter – wine taster, author and translator
- Peter McCombie – Master of Wine, speaker, consultant, co-chair of the IWC
- Richard Bampfield – Master of Wine, European Champagne Ambassador 2009
- Sam Caporn – Master of Wine, wine consultant, speaker, writer and IWC judge
Our experts blind-tasted the red wines, in a different order, and ranked them for character, depth and complexity. Only after agreeing a score for each wine, and deciding on the Best Buys, did they discover which red wine came from which supermarket.
Head to our best red wine guide for more advice on choosing and serving wine and the best wine pairings.
Prices correct as of November 2018.