These big, bold reds will not only chase away the winter blues but they're fantastically food-friendly, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Is it any wonder we reach for a warming red at this time of year? Especially with the dip in temperature, it's not surprising we find comfort with a glass of something rich and soothing.

And with hearty winter recipes, like casserole or stew, high on our list of cold-night contentment, half the pleasure of cooking up a storm is the glug of red wine you get to sip while adding to the pot.

To bring a glow to the cheeks and fire up the senses, these stand-out inky dark, mulberry-hued and ruby reds are ripe for the picking right now...

1. Animus Douro 2017, Douro, Portugal (£4.99, Aldi)

A star buy, the Douro is home to some classy reds and this is a rich, beautifully smooth, complex wine. A terrific trio of three native grapes - tinta roriz (tempranillo), touriga nacional and touriga franca - bring layer upon layer of perfumed, black fruit aromas with a ripe swathe of plummy fruit and a soft, sweet, spicy finish. A Wine Enthusiast Best Buy and Decanter World Wine Awards 2018 bronze medal winner, it's delicious from beginning to end.

2. Pichi Richi Shiraz 2018, South East Australia (£6, Marks & Spencer)

This is a fun, fruity, easy-going wine that kicks off with a rush of bright red berry aromas and then lets the chocolate coated dark cherry fruit take over. Hints of blackberries, plum and a touch of spice come into play, and a super ripe silky finish lends the wine freshness. A red that really hits the spot, it's another great-value buy.

3. Calvet Reserve Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Bordeaux, France (currently reduced to £6.99 from £9.39 until Jan 22, Waitrose)

A red Bordeaux is widely considered the perfect accompaniment with lamb casserole, and you'd be hard-pushed to find a better claret at this price point. The modern face of Bordeaux with lush, ripe fruit and fine-grained tannins, it's from an excellent vintage and this is a seriously sumptuous wine.

With heady cassis, mulberry notes, spice and vanilla on the nose leading to concentrated black fruits with a lick of leather on the opulent finish, it's beautiful now but has a bright future too (if you have the patience of a cellar master), and will take that Lancashire hot pot to new heights.

4. Co-op Irresistible Valle Del Bio Bio Malbec 2017, Chile (£7.95, Co-op stores)

A marvellous malbec to snap up now, while we all love to build a burger around Argentina's greatest export, Chile's equally brilliant answer can be found in this plush, fruity red. A generous drop will beef up a boeuf bourguignon or chilli con carne - and what it lacks in structure, it more than makes up for with its smooth combination of blackberry and black cherry fruit, vanilla spice and flash of freshness on the finish.

5. Terres de Moraines 2014, Madiran, France (£9.50, Marks & Spencer stores)

A solid, broad-shouldered red from south-west France, this is a rustic, robust red that's spicy right from the top, with herbs and spices wrapped around red berries and juicy plums, with friendly tannins riding on the lingering finish. Match it with a classic cassoulet with sausages and beans on a cosy night in to banish those winter blues.

6. Ingeno Organic Nero D'Avola, Sicily, Italy (£9.99, Ocado)

Regional Italian food, such as a simple peperonata stew (onions and sweet peppers) is easy to recreate at home and with a berry laden Nero d'Avola to set off the flavours... bellissimo! Sicily's trophy red grape (Avola refers to the town that lends its name), the wine's brimming with pretty blueberry and black cherry aromas, spiced plum, plush berries and savoury accents backed by soft tannins. A fireside favourite that's lovely on its own, but also loves food.

7. TTD Priorat 2016, Catalonia, Spain (£12, Sainsbury's)

The small (and pricey) wine region of Priorat has been propelled to fame in recent years, thanks to its dry, minerally rich soil which produces intense, fruit-driven reds that make you want to dive right in and fill your boots. Lip smacking and dense, the fabulous five grapes - garnacha, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, mazuela and syrah - combine to give powerful warm flavours of blackberry laced with cocoa, with sweet spice and vanilla oak highlighting the finish.

A thrilling own label for the price, it's worth noting that Priorats are age-worthy wines and more nuances will be introduced within the next couple of years - if you fancy gifting yourself one for the cellar.