Scanning the wine shelves in supermarkets, it is worth noting the rising degrees of alcohol in the red wines.  We used to expect a red to be around 10-12 % alcohol but these days we can expect to be blasted away from wines sitting comfortably around 14.5% volume.  

At this level, if we are prepared to venture into the world of stronger wines, we should give a special curtsey to our old Portuguese friend, Port (approx. 20%vol. alc.).  The wines made along the banks of the Douro are stronger but not much more than many everyday wines we now consume.  What's more they can be absolutely mind-blowingly delicious!

Approaching Christmas many supermarkets will be offering good deals on Port so venture out to your local and see what's there.  My tip of the day is to buy a bottle of 'Late Bottled Vintage' Port, often labeled as 'LBV'.  This means that it was made in a year when the grape growing conditions were particularly good and the wines were perceived as showing it's best form.  The 'Late bottled' bit means that it was stored for an extended period of time in the barrel and then bottled later.  LBV wines tend to be sold at a reduced prices for normal declared vintage port, yet offer great complexity of flavour, richness and massive "one-more-glass" cognition.  

So go forth… get back into Port!

PS A few "don't do's":

1.  Don't have a small glass and then put the cork back in and save for ten years.  It will go off.  Plan to drink with a short period of opening.

2.  Serve in a proper tulip shaped wine glass like a Chianti glass from Riedel or Schott Zwiesel.  Serving port in tiny shot glasses is a crime and should be punishable.

*Pictured above Graham's LBV 2005 Port - See what's available in your local supermarket!

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