Add some fizz to your summer parties - The Moneywise drinks taste test
It's summer time, and for many this conjures up images of lazy sunny afternoons sipping from a tumbler of refreshing Pimm’s in the garden, toasting a happy couple with a glass of bubbly at weddings, or drinking ice-cold ginger ale at barbecues.
And while the rain may threaten to spoil things, with a drink in your hand and friends and family around, you can’t stay gloomy for long.
So to help you get the best deal on your favourite summer tipples, Moneywise has tested a selection of drinks from the major supermarkets.
We compare Pimm’s and its equivalents, as well as prosecco, non-alcoholic ginger ale, and cloudy lemonade.
Taste is important, but if you’re holding an event or giving a bottle as a gift to a host, the design of the bottle and label can be vital too; something garish or cheap looking may not give the desired impression.
So our team of testers scored both the look of the drink in the bottle as well as the taste from one to 10, with one being bad and 10 being excellent. These two scores have then been combined to calculate the overall winner.
Helping you cut costs
We’ve used supermarket branded products (except for Pimm’s No.1) in our taste test, as these are typically cheaper than branded goods.
To cut costs further, use MySupermarket.com to compare prices before buying – it covers all the major supermarkets except for Lidl, and also tells you any deals available, such as buy- one-get-one-free or 25% off.
Supermarkets also often run multi-buy deals, so keep an eye out for these if you’re after a bulk buy.
And always use loyalty schemes such as Tesco Clubcard and Nectar on any purchases where you can to ensure you maximise any gains.
Of course, if you’re thinking of buying drinks containing alcohol, please be drink aware – you can find out more information on this at Drinkaware.co.uk.
All drinks included are subject to availability.
The drinks are set out prior to the taste test
Here are the full results of our summer drinks taste test.
Pimm’s No1 is the top-rated drink in this category and the only branded drink we included in the taste test.
“You can’t beat the real thing,” says one tester, while another asks: “Pimm’s is such a well-known brand, why go for an equivalent?”
That said, Aldi’s Austin’s Summer Drink in second place may be worth sparing a thought as at £5.99, it’s nearly £10 cheaper than Pimm’s No1 at £15.
Waitrose’s Fruit Cup, which is made from blackcurrants as opposed to citrus fruits like the rest of the Pimm’s-based drinks, also receives praise. One tester comments that it “stands out” as “the rest taste like fruit juice”, although another says it “tastes like Ribena”.
Sainsbury’s Pitcher’s fares worst, with comments about it including “the label looks cheap” and it has a “disgusting, synthetic taste”.
Aldi’s prosecco is top trumps overall, with testers particularly blown away by its appearance. One describes the bottle as “really classy”, while another says the “smarter, plain label makes it look more expensive than the rest”. On taste, one tester comments that it is “crisp, yet full of flavour”.
It’s also one of the cheapest bottles of prosecco we tried at £7.49, proving price doesn’t necessarily equate to better quality.
In last position is Lidl’s prosecco, which is by far the cheapest available at £4.99. However, one tester says “its orange label and bottle shape make it look cheap”, while another says it has a “chemical after-taste”.
Aldi’s sparkling lemonade [it is cloudy lemonade, but for some reason it’s called ‘sparkling lemonade’] is the winner in the cloudy lemonade category, with several tasters praising its “refreshing” taste. One tester liked it so much he asked if he could take the leftover lemonade home. However, even though it was the winner, one tester described the taste as ‘blander than bland’.
Nevertheless, its glass bottle also stood out compared to the other supermarkets’ plastic lemonade bottles. Note that, at £1.69, it is more expensive than the other lemonades we tried and it’s a smaller bottle.
Asda’s cloudy lemonade, which fares worst, is described as “unusual” with an “unpleasant aftertaste”.
Tesco is top rated for its ginger ale with one tester saying it has a “nice upbeat bottle sleeve” and a “fruity taste”.
In last place is Asda’s ginger ale, which one tester says “tastes likes soap”, and which another describes as having a “weak flavour”.
The testing begins
However, a few testers also comment that there isn’t much between the appearance of any of the ginger ale bottles, with “none of them” looking that appealing.
Pimm's equivalents* taste test results
|Pimm's No1 [Best buy]||£15||In store & online||2||1||1|
|Austin's Summer Drink by Aldi||£5.99||In store only||1||3||2|
|Heston for Waitrose Fruit Cup||£21.35||In store & online||3||2||4|
|Pitcher's by Sainsbury's||£12||In store & online||4||4||4|
Prosecco** taste test results
|Valdobbiadene Prosecco Spumante (Best buy)||£7.49||In store & online||1||4 (joint)||1|
|Asda Extra Special Prosecco||£8.25||In store & online||3 (joint)||1||2|
|Waitrose NV Glera Italian Prosecco||£7.49||In store & online||
|Conegliano Prosecco by Sainsbury's||£10||In store & online||3 (joint)||3||4|
|Prosecco Spumante by Morrisons||£8.25||In store & online||2||4 (joint)||5|
|Allini Prosecco Spumante by Lidl||£4.99||In store only||4 (joint)||5||6|
Cloudy Lemonade*** taste test results
|Aldi Sparkling Lemonade (Best buy)||£1.69||In store only||1||3 (joint)||1|
|Tesco Cloudy Lemonade||40p||In store & online||2||3 (joint)||2|
|Waitrose Tangy and Refreshing Cloudy Lemonade||81p||In store & online||3||2||3|
|Sainsbury's Cloudy Lemonade||60p||In store & online||4||1||4|
|Asda Cloudy Lemonade||53p||In store & online||5||4||5|
Ginger ale**** taste test results
|Tesco Ginger Ale (Best buy)||45p||In store & online||1||3||1|
|Waitrose Essential Ginger Ale||50p||In store & online||2||1||2|
|Dry Ginger Ale by Sainsbury's||40p||In store & online||3 (joint)||2||3|
|Asda Ginger Ale||38p||In store & online||3 (joint)||4||4|
Notes: *All bottles 1L except for Heston for Waitrose, which is 70cl. Drinks all mixed with 7UP sugar-free. 11 testers on looks, nine on taste. **All bottles 75cl. 11 testers on looks, eight on easte. ***All bottles 2L except for Aldi, which is 75cl. 12 testers on looks & taste. ****All bottles 1L. 11 testers on looks & taste. (i)Price subject to retailer discretion. (ii) At majority of supermarkets.
All prices correct as of 13 June 2016.
Pimm’s original recipe
Here's how to make an original drink of Pimm's:
- 50ml Pimm’s No.1
- 150ml of lemonade
- Handful of sliced oranges, strawberries and cucumber, plus mint leaves and ice
- Pimm’s and Pimm’s equivalents can also be mixed with ginger ale, orange juice and even champagne.