'Tis the season to be jolly. Go on then, if I must.

Christmas time is a period of merriment and indulgence and we as a collective strive to take advantage of the latter.

"Why not, it's Christmas after all", is a phrase that will become all too common in the next couple of weeks, if it hasn't already.

Midweek trips to the pub, family and friends around for drinks after cosy walks, Brits love an excuse for a tipple - none more so than on the big day itself, when wine doth floweth. After all, a meal without wine is breakfast.

According to finedininglovers.com, these are the most popular red wines in the world:

  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Syrah/Shiraz 
  • Malbec 
  • Pinot noir
  • Sangiovese
  • Zinfandel 

I don't profess to be a connoisseur, far from it in fact, but I do know what I like. Malbec.

Malbec is by far my favourite red wine and my go-to when browsing in supermarkets. That said, I did have an incredible experience in Scotland just recently that made me question this choice. 

During a trip to Loch Lomond I was treated to a bottle of Barolo in a restaurant (I won't say how much) and it defied all expectations - seriously, wow. Needing to be on my best behaviour, I drank it slow and sensibly and it was a heavenly experience.

No stage of wine-drunk happened at any point. I didn't drunk text an ex-girlfriend from 10 years ago, I didn't tell everyone I loved them, I didn't wake up with a splitting headache and most importantly, I didn't bring up politics.

Although I've since seen bottles of Barolo being sold in Tesco, you're talking around £25/£30 for a bottle. So that experience will likely remain a one-off, for now, cozzy living crisis and all that jazz.

However, can you get a decent bottle of red for a fraction of the price? Well being the martyr that I am, I went and found out that out for you.

I went to Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Asda and my nearest Co-Op to see if any of the big names could offer up a decent bottle for a good price.

I've always wanted to go to a wine tasting in southern France or some similarly fancy vineyard, so instead of diving into the wine straight away, I had someone mix the bottles up and pour.

Instead of a lounger in Napa Valley, I was in a kitchen in North Wales, we journalists work with what we're given.

With five goblets of goodness in front of me, I conducted my first-ever blind wine tasting. Could I pick out my favourite? The Malbec?

York Press: (In order right to left) Co-Op, Asda, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi red wines (Newsquest)(In order right to left) Co-Op, Asda, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi red wines (Newsquest) (Image: Newsquest)

Tesco - Isla Negra Merlot - £5

This was the cheapest bottle of red I could find at the time in Tesco and it was actually £5.75, but £5 with a Clubcard. I was surprised as I swear Tesco sell cheaper wines.

If you don't have a Clubcard, this is the most expensive 'cheap' red wine that you can get in the supermarket.

It was the first wine I tasted and things got off to an okay start. Despite not having a tonne of flavour, watery if anything, it will do when all else has run dry and you're too drunk to care.

Better yet, use/save some for cooking.

6/10

Asda - McGuigan Merlot - £4.95

Another Merlot, this time from Tesco's main rival, Asda. However, this one didn't have a flat bottom.

Similar to their closest competitor this wine was light-bodied, plain and not that exciting but for £4.95 you can't expect the world. It was good value that's for sure.

Again if you leave this bottle till last, you won't be too fussed.

6/10

Co-Op - South African Red - £5.35

Avoid at all costs.

My initial notes were "This tastes like ****", but it was actually a hell of a lot worse than that.

I'm not sure what process they used to make this 'South African Red', however, I assume they used a can of Special Brew as an ashtray and then left it in the sun for a week. I think that was the flavour they were going for and by god they achieved it.

Foul. 0/10.

York Press: It's a hard life, isn't it? (Newsquest)It's a hard life, isn't it? (Newsquest) (Image: Newsquest)

Lidl - Vineyard Merlot - £4.88

This offering from Lidl was the first wine (let's forget Co-Op) to provide me with some decent fruity flavour. Not overpowering but it had a nice rich taste to it.

For £4.88 this is a steal and will go well with any beef dish. On the palate, it felt smooth.

7/10

Aldi - Malbec - £4.69

Did I call it? Absolutely I did. 

The best wine by far that you can sense from the very first taste. It was rich, velvety and felt full-bodied to me which is how I like them.

Forget saving it till last, I challenge anyone to say this isn't a decent wine that doesn't belong on the dinner table. Aldi have done themselves proud here by selling the cheapest and best wine.

Looking for decent cheap wine? It's simple, head to the cheapest supermarkets.

Also, drink responsibly.

8/10