AGED tawny port is surely one of the best rewards for a good education and hard work and, in its various guises, it’s provided me with some of my most memorable tasting experiences.

Basic tawny port can be good and some of it is even gorgeous, but you haven't lived until you’ve tried a tawny that's been aged for 30 years or more, so even if you have to scrub dating a supermodel or dancing with Anton Du Beke off your bucket list, add this experience.

Tawny ports are aged in oak casks rather than tanks or bottles as is the case with the darker ruby style of port and it’s the wood contact that maketh the man or bringeth the flavour, in this case. The colour changes the longer the port is in cask and there's also a transfer of flavours, namely vanilla, resulting in wines that can be close to sticky toffee pudding and alcohol which is not a bad food combination.

Tawnies are ready to drink the minute they are bottled and they come in a range of ages and styles. Typically the basic ones are bottled after three years in wood but the best ones are aged for ten years or more as it takes a decade at least to add many of the finer subtleties to the palate that define a good wine.

Other than basic no age statement three-year-olds, tawnies come in two main styles: aged blended ports with a fixed number of years on the label, typically 10, 20, 30 and 40 years old and the single vineyard Colheitas which tend to show the vintage year as well as the bottling year on the label.

In a nutshell, tawny port is the merlot of the fortified world, easy to enjoy, no rough edges and rarely a bad one made, so if you try it and don't like it, my sympathies!

Warres Optima 10 year old Tawny

Warm fruits on the nose with a soft inviting palate of creamy caramel.

Corney & Barrow £16.95

Maynards 10 year old

Stewed raisins and orange peel on the nose with a lovely note of toffee on the palate. Incredible value.

Aldi £10.99

Gerard Richardson