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Best red wine 2020

By Aaron West

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Our expert taste test reveals the best affordable red wine to curl up with in winter or enjoy alongside your summer barbecue

Our expert panel tasted 11 red wines from big supermarkets, including Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Waitrose, for the December 2019 and June 2019 editions of Which? magazine.

The reds on test were quite varied, from the gentle and sweet to the rich, ripe and oaky. There were bottles which split our panel, with some liking the vanilla, cherry and almond flavours of some of the wines, and others preferring those that were deep, juicy and smoky.

Winter reds had to be perfect for sipping by a warm fire or accompanying a Christmas dinner, whereas summer reds needed to hold their own against big barbecue flavours whilst also being easy to drink in the hot sun.

Whatever your tastes and budget, we’ve found a red wine for you.

Discover:

Read all about:

Best winter reds 

 
Aldi Toro Loco Reserva
 Aldi-Toro-Loco-Reserva logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£7, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Described as 'the big brother of the Toro Loco family', this Spanish red from Aldi is 'bolder, bigger and seriously good'. It's also claimed that 'time is taken to age it in wood as per Spanish tradition to earn the Reserva mark' - making it perfect for 'meat, cheese and a nice date'.

Want to know what our expert tasting panel thought. Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Asda Extra Special Yarra Yarra Pinot Noir
 Asda-Extra-Special-Yarra-Yarra-Pinot-Noir logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£5.50 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Asda claims that this red benefits from being grown in the cooler climate of the Yarra Valley in Australia. Supposedly this makes it 'stunning with lamb, duck or pan-fried tuna'.

But how did the cheapest red wine fare in our expert taste test? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Co-op Irresistible Organic Fairtrade Malbec
 Co-op-Irresistible-Organic-Fairtrade-Malbec logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£7.50, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

As both an organic and Fairtrade wine, you should be able to expect that care has gone into making this Argentinian red. Co-op also claims that this wine is 'full bodied' and 'bursting with plum, cherry and jam aromas'. 

Find out whether this red wine is worth a try. Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Iceland Rabo de Galo
 Iceland-Rabo-de-Galo-2018 logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£6, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Portuguese wines have drawn more and more attention in recent years, and Iceland claims this is one is 'balanced and elegant' with a 'long and fruity finish'.

But did this Portuguese wine impress our expert tasting panel? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Lidl Winemaker's Selection Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
 Lidl-Winemaker's-Selection-Coonawarra-Cabernet-Sauvignon logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£6, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Lidl says that this Australian cabernet sauvignon is bursting with 'ripe, bright blackcurrant fruit that is generous and satisfying'. It's also tipped to be the perfect pairing for a Sunday roast, so could be a real winner for winter.

Hear from our expert tasting panel before you buy. Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

M&S Tapa Roja Old Vines Monastrell
 M&S-Tapa-Roja-Old-Vines-Monastrell logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£7, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

A south-eastern Spanish merlot that M&S says is a 'deep and sumptuous full-bodied red with intense plum and blackberry aromas and flavours with a herbal twist'.

Find out how this M&S red wine ranks in our list. Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Morrisons The Best Côtes Catalanes
 Morrisons-The-Best-Cotes-Catalans logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£7.75, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

This red is from Roussillon in France, a mountainous region that borders Spain. Morrisons describes it as 'smooth and 'spicy' with 'dark cherry and plum fruit with a brush of herbs'. It's also supposed to be ideal with a peppered steak or slow-cooked lamb shanks. But do the experts agree?

Which? members have full access to our taste test scores. Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Rioja Reserva
 Sainsburys-Taste-the-Difference-Rioja-Reserva logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£9, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Sainsbury's describe this Spanish red as 'rich and smooth' and 'packed full of concentrated cherry and black fruit flavours enveloped in a veil of vanilla from the extensive oak ageing'. As one of the most expensive reds in our line-up, you should be able to expect quality. 

Was this red wine one of our top scorers? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Spar Rios De Los Andes Malbec Reserve
 Spar-Rios-De-Los-Andes-Malbec-Reserve-75cl logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£8, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

This Argentinian malbec is described as “full bodied... full flavour” as well as “strong, rich and fruity”. Spar claims this makes it good value, but for £8 you should expect a great wine. 

Hear what our expert tasting panel thought before buying. Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Tesco Finest Montagne St Emilion 2018
 Tesco-Finest-Montagne-St-Emlion-2018 logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£9, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

This French red from the world-famous region of Bordeaux is said to be a 'smooth, full bodied red wine has been carefully blended to obtain the typical blackcurrant, cedar wood and savoury spice flavours of Montagne Saint Emilion'.

But do our experts think it's worth its high price? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Waitrose & Partners Romanian Pinot Noir
 Waitrose-806942-Waitrose-Romanian-Pinot-Noir logged out table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£6, vegan and vegetarian Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Romania isn't known for its wine, but this pinot noir is described as 'full of cherry and raspberry and hints of ripe strawberry'. 

Does this make for a winning red that can keep you company over winter? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Notes: Prices correct in October 2019.

Best summer reds 

Only logged in Which? members can view the rest of our results and tasting notes in the two tables below, plus wine and food pairings and expert tips on everything from using corked wine to how to serve more tannic reds. 

If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the red wine on test. To get instant access join Which?.

 
Aldi - Number 9 Blend Australian GSM 2017
 Aldi-Number9BlendGSM table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£7 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

GSM takes its name from a blend of three grapes: grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre. This is a sweeter red, with hints of crème brulée and chocolate in the flavour.

Australian reds are a classic choice for barbecue season, but how does this wine shape up? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Asda - Extra Special Selection Valle De Colchagua Carménère 2016
 Asda-CarmenereValleDeColchagua table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£6.50 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

This wine from Chile has flavour hints of ripe black fruits and oak spice, with recommending pairings of slow roasted or barbecued red meats.

Our experts thought this wine stood out from the crowd, but will it be to your personal taste? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Co-Operative - Irresistible Bio Bio Malbec 2017
 Co-op-ValleDelBioBioMalbec table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£8 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Argentina may be the country that springs to mind when you think of malbec, but this Chilean red could be a real contender.

See if our panel loved its slightly unconventional flavours. Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Lidl - Chilean Malbec Reserva Privada 2018
 Lidl-MalbecReservaPrivada table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£6 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

If you’ve blown your budget on your canapes or steak centrepiece then you might be tempted by this Chilean red, the cheapest wine we tested.

Is it a bargain Best Buy bottle or is price an indication of quality? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

M&S - Cotes du Rhone 2016
 M&SCotesDuRhone table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£6 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

A French Cotes de Rhone made from classic grenache and syrah grapes. A fruity flavour comes through along with ‘autumnal aromas’.

See if the flavours work just as well for drinking through a long, hot summer. Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Morrisons - The Best Negroamaro 2017
 Morrisosn-NegroAmaro table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£7.25 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

The Italian negroamaro grape takes its name from its dark colour, and you get expect a succulent berry fruit flavour from the wine it produces.

Did our panel love this wine’s sweetness or would a different bottle be better for a barbecue? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Sainsbury's - Taste the Difference Morador Malbec 2017
 Sainsburys-MoradorMalbec table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£7.50 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Sainsbury’s claims that its ‘intense and fruity’ Argentinian malbec is the perfect match for beef, so it could be the perfect wine to serve with chargrilled steak at a summer barbecue.

Find out if it’s versatile enough for all your summer drinking. Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Tesco - Finest Fairtrade South African Pinotage 2018
 Tesco-Pinotage table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£7.50 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Tesco claims that its South African pinotage is a complex red that offers several layers of taste, from dark red fruits and coffee to sweet spice and mocha.

Are all the flavours well balanced in this wine? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Waitrose - Terre di Faiano Organic Primitivo 2017
 Waitrose Terre di Faiano Organic Primitivo 2017 table Price Tasting notes Overall score
£7.50 Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

The oak aging adds a roasted and spicy aroma to this Italian red, and it’s described as the ideal pairing for rich meat dishes.

Does it deserve a place at your garden table though? Join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Notes: Prices correct in May 2019.

How to choose a red wine 

There’s no substitute for trying wines out and keeping a record of those you liked and didn’t. In the meantime, you can use our guide to the most common varieties to get you started:

  • malbec goes well with meat, especially beef. Its taste varies greatly depending where it’s grown, but plums, berries and spices are common flavours. It’s sometimes blended with other varieties, but often a soloist in Argentina. 
  • merlot is very versatile and soft, making it easy-drinking for those new to wine. 
  • pinot noir varies enormously depending where the grapes are grown. Goes well with lamb, duck, guinea fowl, hamburgers, haggis and many cheeses. 
  • cabernet sauvignon is blackcurranty, often grassy, usually full bodied and often tannic (which can have a drying effect in your mouth). Good with lamb and goose.  

How we tested 

We asked each supermarket to suggest a good-value red wine ideal for drinking in the winter and summer months. They had to be own label or exclusive, within the £5 to £9 price range for winter reds and £6 to £10 for summer reds, vintage or non-vintage.

Each wine was disguised before being tasted blind and then rated by our panel of experts. Each expert tasted the drinks in a different order, before discussing their ratings and agreeing on two Best Buy red wines. 

Our experts were: 

  • 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-chairman of the IWC
  • Richard Bampfield Master of Wine, European Champagne Ambassador 2009
  • Sam Caporn Master of wine, wine consultant, speaker, writer and IWC judge
  • Helen McGinn International wine judge and award-winning author
  • Peter Richards Master of Wine, writer, presenter and broadcaster
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