Thursday 27 April 2017

Christmas Taste Test: How to get the best bang for your buck in Irish supermarkets this Christmas

Emily Diebold pictured at home with all the Christmas food that was tested from Six of the biggest retailers.
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Emily Diebold pictured at home with all the Christmas food that was tested from Six of the biggest retailers. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Emily Diebold pictured with her Family at home with all the Christmas food that was tested from Six of the biggest retailers. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
◊ M&S: Classic recipe Christmas pudding, 454g, €9.79
◊ Aldi: Specially Selected Exquisite mince pies (6), €3.99
Aldi: Rich all butter luxury iced cake infused with cognac, €9.99

Emily Diebold

Supermarkets across the country have very similar seasonal offerings. It’s impossible to choose just from the packaging which will be the tastiest and the best value for money, so to help with the choice, my family volunteered to do a blind taste test.

All over Ireland, Christmas food isn’t judged by food critics, it’s judged by ordinary families, and teenagers can be the harshest critics of all especially mine.

We tested a different item every day for five days.

Everything was taken out of the packaging and put on plain numbered plates and meticulously scored individually — and then argued about. Everyone had a different opinion. The champagne bottles were wrapped in tissue paper and judged by adults.

It was a whole lot of fun... and the results are surprising...



◊ Aldi: Rich all butter luxury iced cake infused with cognac, €9.99

christmas 1.JPG

Delicate simple design. Light in taste and colour. Moist and fruity with soft icing. A firm favourite with the kids.

Best Value: 5 Stars

◊ Lidl: Luxury Christmas cake Courvoisier VS Cognac, €9.99

Pretty holly icing with a red ribbon. Packed with fruit and a strong taste of alcohol.

Rating: Four stars

◊ M&S: Hand decorated gluten free Christmas cake, €17.99

Very pretty with large gold and white snowflakes on top. Difficult to cut as the icing is quite hard. Dark rich filling.

Rating: Five Stars

◊ Tesco Finest: Hand decorated rich fruit cake with oak-aged cognac, €12.37

Elegant cake with large white edible snowflakes. A definite winner with the adults. A dark mature cake with thick marzipan, soft icing and strong alcohol taste.

Star Buy: Five stars

◊ EuroSpar: Hand decorated iced Christmas cake, €13

This was the biggest cake. It came on a nice gold board and was wrapped like a present with a big ribbon. Light cake with less fruit and a lot of marzipan.

Rating: Two stars

◊ SuperValu: Royal iced apricot and brandy Chrismas cake, €10

The icing reminded me of the one my granny used to make. Paler in colour with big cherries and apricots.

Rating: Three stars



◊ Aldi: Specially Selected Exquisite mince pies (6), €3.99

christmas 3.JPG

Attractive rustic mince pies with an almond on top. Juicy raisins and tasty pastry.

Rating: Three stars

◊ Lidl: Mince pies (12), €2.49

Pretty holly design, lightly dusted with sugar, rich filling. Great price.

Best Value: Four stars

◊ M&S: Christmas star mince pies (6), €3.79

Melt in the mouth, deep fruity filling with a rich taste of brandy and port and gorgeous smell of Christmas.

Star Buy: Five stars

◊ Tesco Finest: All butter pastry deep filled mince pies (6), €2.50

Pretty snowflake design on top — deep and fruity with a taste of cognac. Pastry is slightly dry.

Rating: Two stars

◊ EuroSpar: Spar Select Crumbly mince pies (6), €2.99

A good weighty mince pie but maybe slightly too much pastry. Fruity mincemeat.

Rating: Two stars

◊ SuperValu: Deep filled mince pies (6), 2 for €3.

Rather plain design (could be passed off as home-made). Generous filling, rich and fruity. Nice price.

Rating: Three stars



◊ Aldi: Irish Christmas pudding, 907g, €7.49

Slightly dry and a little bland. No strong flavour. Lighter than the others.

Rating: One star

◊ Lidl: Luxury 18 month matured pudding, 907g, €11.99

Boozy, moist dark pudding. Packed with flavour. Liked by all.

Rating: Three stars

◊ M&S: Classic recipe Christmas pudding, 454g, €9.79

christmas 6.JPG

Traditional pudding with cider, rum and sherry. Lots of spice and taste of nuts.

Rating: Three stars

◊ Tesco Finest: Six month matured pudding, 454g, €4.50

Infused with stout, whiskey, rum and brandy. Crowd-pleaser.

Best Value: Four stars

◊ EuroSpar: Spar Select Christmas pudding, 454g, €6.99

Rich spicy flavour, infused with Irish Whiskey. Good traditional pudding.

Rating: Three stars

◊ SuperValu: Hidden cherry Christmas pudding, 700g, €10

Clear winner. The cherry centre is a lovely surprise. Good strong flavour.

Star Buy: Five stars



◊ Aldi: Champagne Veuve Monsigny Brut, €19.99

Christmas 7.JPG

Crisp, refreshing and very smooth. Tight bubbles, lots of fizz, biscuity finish.

Best Value: Four stars

◊ Lidl: Bissenger & Co Grand Prestige, €26.99

Nice bottle. The taste is a little harsh with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Unspectacular.

Rating: Two stars

◊ M&S: M&S Champagne Abel Charlot Brut, €50

Not a great nose. Smooth but no length. Perfectly drinkable with a vanilla aftertaste.

Rating: Three stars

◊ Tesco Finest: Tesco Premier Cru Champagne, €35

Punchy with a nice citrus aroma, A good party fizz with tight bubbles.

Rating: Four stars

◊ EuroSpar: Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve, €39.99

No length, aggressive fruit and a little flat without much bouquet.

Rating: One star

◊ SuperValu: Champagne Pierre Darcys Brut, €20

Delicate floral bouquet. Pale gold colour. Lively bubbles. Dry finish. A clear winner.

Star Buy: Five star


Other products worth a mention

◊ Aldi: Specially Selected Rich round fruit cake, €6.99

Really good fruit cake, not iced for those who want to ice their own or for those who don’t like marzipan and icing.

◊ Lidl: Deluxe roast turkey and sage and onion crisps, €1.49

Fun seasonal crisps that were a hit with the kids. Great party food.

◊ M&S: The biggest filled Christmas whip, €5.99

This is a big walnut whip made to look like a Christmas pudding covered in chocolate with holly on top. Great for kids who don’t like pudding.

◊ Tesco: Salted caramel cream liqueur, €15

Christmas 8.JPG

Delicious indulgent treat for adults with a gorgeous aroma of caramel. Sip while watching a Christmas movie.

◊ EuroSpar: Sweet and salty popcorn, €2

Sounds so wrong but tastes so good. Spar has a range of specialty popcorn and crisps to suit all tastes.

◊ SuperValu: Cheese selection, €10

A choice of five tasty cheeses with oatcakes and roasted pepper relish on a wooden cheeseboard. Really good value.

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