IT'S been a weird old summer hasn't it, but I'm talking about my prolific writing about whites and roses, rather than Covid! Anyway, as autumn approaches, it’s time to put the big boy pants on and take a look at port, and I thought we could start with my favourite style, tawny.

Tawny is essentially a port with extra time in oak casks, which over time causes the port to lose some of its colour, hence the tawny name but it’s what it takes from the wood that's more important. Oak casks give port a vanilla or caramel finish and the longer in wood, the softer and more rounded the experience but beware the really young ones.

Youth is a wonderful thing except in a tawny port where too many of the toddlers smell like a sweaty dog, so aim for the ones with an age statement of 10 years or more for a really lush experience. In fact, if you get the chance to buy some decent mini bottles (Messias Port do a cracking gift set of minis covering all the styles) line up a 10, 20 and 30-year old for the perfect example of the effect of oak aging.

There's been a trend lately to serve tawny chilled in the summer but I find its best at room temperature and preferably served beside a log fire with a rich blue cheese. I tend to find that Santa likes a 40-year-old with his mince pie in our house by the way. Gosh, did I just hint at Christmas....

The Society's Exhibition 10 year old Tawny

The Wine Society and port seem to go together like slippers and a log fire. Their 10-year-old Tawny is delightful with soft creamy caramel peaking through a mix of dried fruits and nuts. Pair it with stilton for a cracking taste experience.

The Wine Society £17

Osborne 20-year-old Tawny

Possibly the best value 20-year-old on the market. Orange peel, vanilla and hints of treacle on the palate with a soft vanilla finish. Gorgeous

The Good Spirits Co £39.99