This time of the year the papers are full of columnists telling you to give up drink for January or spurious articles suggesting that there is no safe amount of alcohol. My advice is to ignore all this nonsense. If you’re that worried about your drinking take September off or, just drink less, but it’s mad to stop drinking at the only time of year when you actually need it. January in Britain is miserable, it’s always freezing and there is no Christmas holiday to look forward to. Happily our ancestors discovered a way of bottling the sunshine of the Mediterranean and the Southern Hemisphere, and keeping it for when it is needed most. It’s called wine.
At this time of year, fortified wines really come into their own. An open bottle of tawny port will last weeks in the fridge so you can have a little glass in the evening when the lack of sun gets too much. Or, if you can find it, Rivesaltes from the South of France can be gorgeous. I was lucky enough to try this one before Christmas.
It’s mainly made from Grenache Blanc with a little muscat and tastes a bit like a cross between an amontillado sherry and a tawny port. It’s only 16% too so it’s pretty much like not drinking at all. Half a glass is all you need to block out the cold and the puritans.
Stone, Vine and Sun have the 2001 for £15.95. Also Taylor’s 10 Year Old Tawny port for around £20 and Gonzalez-Byass AB Amontillado £12 are both widely available.