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!


Follow us for free:

Secret Sommelier on TwitterSecret Sommelier on Instagramfacebook 001linkedin 001youtube 001

Join our mailing list for occasional updates of what we have been up to:

Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.


Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.


The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.


Driving into the Entre-Deux-Mers region from the north, the vineyards roll out like a bright green deep-pile carpet across the undulating land. It’s hard not to be excited about tasting wines with so much heritage, as we head to Chateau-Sainte-Marie to meet with 5th generation owner, Stéphane Dupuch. 


It’s been a hot couple of weeks here trekking around northern Catalonia. From the homeland and backdrop to surrealist Salvador Dali’s world to dramatic remnants of the volcano park an hour away, this place is a land of rough-hewn vistas and rustic hospitality.


Carluccio's deli and restaurants are a high-street staple, where great flavours in food blend easily with quality wines on the list. Following the death of the charismatic founder, Antonio Carluccio, his spirit lives on in style and philosophy. Nick Breeze talks to Head of International Operations (especially where wine is concerned!), Mike Stocks about wine-list tips, food matching and the great man of "mof mof":


We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of this site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

  I accept cookies from this site.
EU Cookie Directive plugin by