I THOUGHT we could spend a couple of weeks looking at ports for Christmas, mainly because I'm a lush for the product, whether its LBV, Vintage or Tawny, and because Santa is partial to a decent glass with his mince pie in our house.

LBV stands for Late Bottled Vintage, which for want of a better description is poor man's vintage port. The wine is made in much the same way but is given between four and six years in wooden barrels before being filtered and bottled ready for sale. In short, it's ready for drinking the moment you release the stopper with no decanting required.

Vintage Ports are the big boys of the fortified world, produced only when everything is considered right by the majority of port houses in the Douro, something that happens on average barely three times a decade. They are bottled unfiltered after less than two years in barrel, and as such, they can continue to develop slowly for several decades which is why they can spark so much interest when tasted and command interesting prices, particularly from the bigger names such as Taylors, Fonseca and Warres.

So, what should you expect, and what do you pair them with? Vintage character ports are about as complex as wine comes and can include a whole cacophony of flavours such as blackcurrants, chocolate, spices and orange peel. They are generally served in moderation ie. small glasses, folks, because they can be a trifle tipsy in alcohol. I've had some of my best moments pairing them with hard, aged cheeses or dark chocolate.

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Fletchers LBV

I've no idea how Aldi do it year on year but their Fletchers' ports are consistently good and unbelievably great value. Autumn fruits and nutty aromas with chocolate and cream on the palate.

Aldi £8.99

Warres, Quinta da Cavadinha Vintage Port 2004

A cracking introduction to full vintage ports, with violets and autumn fruits on the nose and a lush palate of dark fruits, cocoa, spices and orange. Delicious

Waitrose £33.99