Port is a fortified wine made from grapes grown in the Douro Valley in Portugal. The grapes include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Tinta Cao. The wine is fortified by the addition of a neutral spirit during the fermentation process. This effectively stops the fermentation, leaving a residual sugar in the wine, meaning that port is always sweet. This is different to other fortified wines such as sherry which is fermented out to complete dryness before the grape spirit is added. The spirit also boosts the alcohol by volume (ABV) usually to around 20%, which is why port packs a punch.

Household names such as Graham’s, Taylor’s and Dow’s are always reliable. I’m also a huge fan of Kopke and Barros.

Port is particularly popular around christmas time, but you can certainly enjoy it in its many guises throughout the year. As the weather slowly improves, a white port in a tall glass with ice and tonic is delicious and refreshing.

A small glass of tawny port is lovely with a mushroom soup or risotto.

And a more traditional vintage port still works brilliantly with the cheeseboard, or with a decadent slice of rich fruit cake, or simply as a digestif.

You should check out the supermarket shelves (whilst keeping a safe social distance) at this time of year for the occasional bargain.

Dow’s Trademark Finest Reserve Port (Sainsbury’s, £10). This is rich and full with notes of dark chocolate, and is a really good all-rounder. It’s also a super price.

Graham’s Crusted Port bottled 2013 (Sainsbury’s, £20). Crust is an old fashioned term for the sediment in a port. The crusted bottlings throw more of a sediment which also enhances the flavour in your glass. I’d certainly advise a careful decant on this one.

Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos 2005 Vintage Port (Sainsbury’s, £28). This is a single quinta port, meaning that all the grapes have come from one property which is usually the best vineyard owned by the port house. The Malvedos is slightly lighter than the full-blown Graham’s vintage, which also means that you can drink it sooner.

Once opened, you can re-stopper the bottle and keep it for a couple of weeks if you have sufficient willpower. Cheers!

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