Budget buys win Christmas taste test

At last, some good news for Christmas shoppers - there's no need to splash the cash on pricey Xmas fare.

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A taste test by Delicious magazine found that the budget brands and cheaper alternatives are by and large the best when it comes to flavour.

Champagne, cakes, puddings and mince pies from a wide variety of stores came under scrutiny and the frugal among you are likely to be pleased with your bargain purchases.

Topping the Christmas pudding list, for example, was Asda's Extra Special Six-month Matured Luxury Christmas Pudding, a snip at just £3, while Heston's Hidden Orange Christmas Pud, priced at £13.99 could only manage a runner-up spot.

The same was true of Christmas cakes - Tesco's Finest Fully Iced Holly Cake (£10) beat the Waitrose Richly Fruited Snowflake Cake (£16.99) into second and Fortnum and Mason's King George Rich Christmas Cake (at a pricey £27.95) filled a runner-up position.

It was similar story in the champagne and mince pies category - Morrison's 'The Best' Champagne, priced at £19.99, pipped Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label and Moet & Chandon to the post, and a £2 box of Co-op Truly Irresistible Mini Mince Pies was found to be tastier than the Harrods Almond Crumble-topped variety which cost £9.25 per pack.

Karen Barnes, editor of Delicious, said, "We didn't set out to find the cheapest, as the tests are done without influence from packaging or price.

"That makes it all the more heartening we found outstanding quality from affordable brands."

And that Christmas pudding will no doubt prove even tastier with the knowledge that it didn't break the bank.

What do you think - will you be sticking with a trusted name brand or bargain-hunting this year? Leave your comments below...