I DON'T know who first said, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" but it ain't for me. When someone treads on my last nerve ending, I turn to Rioja, my liquid comfort blanket, and so far, it’s never let me down. Rioja is a Spanish classic that was made good by a stroke of luck that came in the form of Bordeaux winemakers who were driven south by the spread of a vine disease in the 19th century.

They took with them their knowledge of wine making and ageing in oak and they added that to a region with some interesting but largely boring local varietals, namely Tempranillo. It turned out that all Tempranillo needed to turn it from a duckling to a swan was a wee bit of time in a barrel. Yep, it’s all about the oak, folks and the more time in barrels, the softer it becomes which explains my preference for the Gran Reservas which have had at least 3 years ageing. The other classifications are Reserva and Crianza with decreasing time in wood and then finally there are the young wines or Jovens but I'd rather be waterboarded than drink the latter.

Tempranillo and Grenache, the other main grape of Rioja are both light and fruity until they see a tree and then they develop these lovely deep toasty vanilla flavours. With some grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, too much wood can overpower the wine however, in all my years of tasting, I've never found a case of too much oak in Rioja, but my hunt continues ladies and gents. Anyway, I've got a cork or two to liberate so toodle pip until next week.'

Belezos Gran Reserva Rioja

Remember Meg Ryan faking it in ‘When Harry met Sally’? Trust me there's no fakes when you taste this gorgeous wine. Dark brambly fruit on the nose with hints of leather, tobacco and spices on the palate all wrapped up in a soft vanilla finish. Mmmm

Corney & Barrow, Ayr £22.51

Marques del Romerol, Reserva

A rich but very soft wine with ripe summer fruits and a lovely toasty finish

Marks & Spencer £14.00

Gerard Richardson