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Best winter red wines to enjoy at Christmas

Looking for an affordable red wine to quaff over the Christmas holidays? We've tested 11 and found three good enough to be named Best Buys

Best winter red wines to enjoy at Christmas

Whether your tastes run to punchy malbecs or delicate pinot noirs, our expert tasters have chosen the supermarket red wines that deserve a place on your Christmas table.

Five international wine-tasting experts, including the co-chairs of the International Wine Challenge and two Masters of Wine, have sipped their way through a selection of affordable red wines in our blind taste test. Their recommendations will stand you in good stead when friends and family drop round for a winter tipple.

Each red wine we tested was nominated by a supermarket, including wines from Aldi, Asda, Tesco and more, all priced between £5 and £9.

Go straight to our best red wines to find out which impressed.

What made the best red wines stand out?

Our selection offers plenty of choice for all palates, with fruity Spanish riojas, oaky Argentinian malbecs and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

Experts said the winning wine was ‘a step above the rest, and a real people-pleaser, fragrant with spice’ and felt it would ‘pair beautifully with roast lamb, or even with Christmas turkey and trimmings’.

Our joint runners-up, also Best Buys, were described respectively as ‘charming and very gluggable, likely to go well with a herby shoulder of lamb or mushroom risotto’, and ‘great for parties, with a generous serving of juicy berries and a dry finish’.

While you’re at the supermarket, why not top up on bubbles too. We’ve selected the best prosecco and sparkling wines that offer a great-value alternative to champagne.

How to choose the best red wine for Christmas

If you love the zing of cranberry sauce with your turkey, bear in mind that its fruity sharpness can be a real wine killer.

The key is choosing something fairly acidic, but not overly sweet, to balance this out. Our experts thought a cabernet sauvignon would be best to pair with your turkey if you’re having cranberry sauce.

More traditional accompaniments, such as bread sauce, are less overpowering, so you’re best going for a wine that naturally pairs well with turkey.

A well-aged wine should do the trick, as the tannins are likely to be less overpowering. Try a mature claret or rioja. If you prefer white wine, stick to a round, full-bodied chardonnay.

Three top tips to get the most from your red wine

1. Aerating doesn’t need to be fancy

Aerating will help bring out the flavour in an earthy red wine, but you don’t need a posh decanter. Just open the bottle early to let it ‘breathe’, or for greater exposure to air, pour it into a jug for a bit.

If you don’t get a chance to open the wine early, try putting it in a blender and pulsing for a few seconds.

2. It’s not a sin to combine wines

While it may sound sacrilegious, our experts say that combining wines can sometimes get a good result. For example, if you have a sharp, high-acid wine, you could mix it with one that’s smoother and more relaxed to get a more balanced red wine, for example.

3. Chill out (your wine)

It’s a common misconception that room temperature is best for serving red wine. While this may have been true once upon a time, the idea predates central heating. Typical room temperature used to be 14°C; now it’s 21°C, which is too warm.

You may find red wine tastes better if you chill it a little in the fridge. Half an hour, maximum, should be enough.

See all our recommendations for Christmas food and drink that will help make the season bright:

How to make perfect slow cooker mulled wine – watch our video guide and get recipe tips for the perfect festive pick-me-up


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