Personally, I can happily drink both sherry and port all year round. But Christmas is an especially good time to have a couple of bottles on hand.
Dry, tangy fino sherry is a great accompaniment to the shorts of cold-cuts, nuts, cheeses and general lunches-from-leftovers meals that are often a staple of the post-Christmas period.
With its ripe fruit, alcohol and sweetness, port is rather more of a cold-weather drink than a summery one; it has the strength to stand up to mince pies and Christmas pudding, or can just be sipped after an expansive meal in your favourite armchair.
Tio Pepe Fino (£11)
Made from palomino grapes, grown on Albariza soils, fermented to dryness, then fortified lightly for strength, placed in barrels where flor grows and imparts a distinctive tang and finally blended across years via the solera method, sherry is one of the world's great wines.
Complex, elegant and versatile, it is a great match for food; neutral and strong enough not to be overpowered.
pungent with aromatic, floral chamomile; fresh, citrussy and briney-yeasty, with melon, white stone fruit, green apple, brioche, pastry shop, salty almond-and-brazil-nut savouriness; broad, long, complex and elegant.
The classic match for fino is slices of jamon with machego and bread with olive oil; but it will match almost any collection of "assembled food" meals.
Like sherry, port is a wine that has been fortified to keep it stable on the historically long sea voyage from Iberia to England.
Traditionally foot-trodden to extract more colour, flavour and preserving tannins, it is partially fermented then fortified whilst some residual sugar remains to preserve sweetness whilst adding strength.
Ruby is the entry-level of ports, a lighter, younger-drinking wine and whilst "Reserva" historically had no official status, it now indicates a premium ruby port approved by the IVDP's tasting panel, the Câmara de Provadores.
This has everything you want from a port; fruit, spice, warmth and sweetness. It's a lot of wine for not much money.
red, black and sour cherries, eucalyptus and oaky spice with prunes, raisins and liquorice; sweet, warming and supple with very fine, well-integrated tannins.
Thoroughly enjoyable and good value.
Sip as a digestif; drink with mince pies or chocolate and cherry torte.
Both wines are currently on special offer at the Co-op:
Tio Pepe Fino is reduced to £10 from December 1 - 14, 2021 and Taylor's Select Reserve Port is down to just £7.50 for the same period.