Warm up ahead of Christmas—

In the same way that port is not just for gouty old soaks in silk dressing gowns, port is not just for Christmas. These cold weeks leading up to the holidays should be flowing with the stuff for a warming sense of personal insulation.

By adding grape brandy to stop fermentation, port wines are high in booze, sweetness and rich flavour. Ruby port is made to drink young, with vivid fruit; crusted port should be decanted to avoid sediment – both can offer good value. Pricier vintage port comes from an exceptional year and needs ten to 15 years in bottle to soften. Late bottled vintage port is less pricy and ready sooner. Tawny ports are pale in colour, matured in casks and superb served chilled with a bowl of nuts… but greater still is Colheita, tawny port from a single vintage aged in casks for seven years – and a treat whatever the weather.


TANTALISING TAWNY: Maynard’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port (20%) £10.99 Aldi. Serve this chilled with a slice of Christmas cake – divine.

RAVISHING RUBY: Adnams Ruby Port (20%) £12.99 Adnams. Deeply delicious with spicy splendour. Pair with dark chocolate.

CRACKING CRUSTED: The Society’s Exhibition Crusted Port Bottled 2013 (20%) £17 The Wine Society. Silky with sweet, powerful richness for a festive treat.

VIVACIOUS VINTAGE: Quinta do Noval Colheita Port 2000 (21.5%) £42.99 Ocado. Perfection with Christmas pud, this single vintage Tawny is as good as it gets.


Taste the Difference Vintage Port 2003 (20%) £20 Sainsbury’s. Peppery punch to dark fruit flavours, this is unbeatable value.

This column was originally published in EVENT Magazine, Mail on Sunday, 17th Nov 2019