Today’s weather forecast promises a prolonged cold spell with widespread sharp to severe frosts. What better time to enjoy an evening glass of warming port or other fortified wine? Two Tawnies this week, one from Australia (and therefore not a port), the other made from grapes grown from the Douro Valley and aged in the city of Oporto, and therefore definitely a port.
Tawny port is aged for a prolonged period in oak casks, taking on a brownish colour and delicious flavours of dried fruits and toasted nuts. By contrast, Ruby, LBV and Vintage Ports are aged mainly in bottle and have fruity flavours of blackcurrant and plums. All fortified wines will have been strengthened by the addition of some grape brandy.
If you are feeling flush, Aldi has the very tasty Fletcher’s 40-year-old tawny (€39.99), but my absolute favourite tawnies are the superb Niepoort Colheita tawny ports (€50-90, independents). I would also be tempted by the Chamber’s Rutherglen Muscat (€18-€20 per half bottle, independents) However, the two more affordable tawnies featured here are great wines and offer excellent value for money.
Tawnies will keep for a few weeks once opened. They go really well with many desserts, including those with chocolate, crème brûlée, pecan pie, Christmas pudding, mince pies, and firm cheeses. You really have no excuse not to buy a bottle.
Bethany Old Quarry Tawny, Barossa Valley, Australia
Old Quarry Tawny is made by a sixth-generation wine producer from the Barossa valley in South Australia. Their Tawny, a fortified sweet wine, is the perfect cold weather warmer and very keenly priced. Rich raisins, Christmas cake spice and milk chocolate and not overly sweet. Try it with cheeses or all kinds of desserts. €21.95 from O’Briens.
Kopke 10-Year-old Tawny Port
Rich and smooth with mixed dried fruits, mahogany and butterscotch. Serve cool with liver parfait, toasted nuts, firm cheeses or sweet Christmas treats. Priced at €28-€32 from select Dunnes Stores, SuperValu, Molloys, Pinto Wine, 64 Wine, The Corkscrew; Wineonline; The Wine House, Trim, Bradley’s.