I DREAD to think what the neighbours thought when they saw my collection of empties, put out for recycling this week.

It’s always quite full but, this time, my very large recycling box was overflowing. This was caused partly by extracurricular consumption over the festive season adding to the steady trickle of wines I am sent to sample. But also I forgot to put out the recycling last time around, so I had collected more than four weeks worth of bottles.

Walking down the street, however, I was reminded that I’m not the only one who enjoys a glass or two on a regular basis. In fact, we can truly call ourselves a nation of wine drinkers, as it was announced this week that Britain has become the world’s biggest wine importer. Put in to numbers, we imported more than 1.6 billion bottles in 2007.

Australian wine continues to be the favourite (more of those next week), with France, the US, Italy and Spain, making up the top five. But as a nation, we still have a long way to go before we catch up the French in terms of how much wine we drink. Our Gallic cousins slurp through 58.8 litres per adult per year.

You can help Britain stay a world leader by purchasing the following, a trio of modern reds on offer at wallet-friendly prices.

There are no prizes for guessing the country of origin of The Roo Bros Shiraz 2007. This is a classic barbecue wine from Oz. Smooth and smoky, it has oodles of jammy plum and berry flavours, black pepper and cola notes.

Argentina is often a safe bet if you want value and Trapiche Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, from the Mendoza region, is a good example. It has ripe blackcurrant aromas with spicy, dark fruit flavours and mouth-filling tannins, giving the wine structure.

McManis Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 is a flavour-packed drop from California. Expect cherry and cassis flavours, with notes of cinnamon, clove, vanilla, toasty oak and round tannins.

•The Roo Bros Shiraz 2007, £4.99 down from £5.99 until February 8 at Morrisons 16/20.

•Trapiche Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, £4.49 down from £5.99 until February 8 at Morrisons 17/20.

•McManis Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, £3.99 down from £7.99 until February 3 at Tesco 16/20