trophyTop Eight After Dinner Red Wines of 2011 this week. That’s more than the promised five as a late surge in great tasting and great value wines was found to match the cheese and nuts course. All eight are deeply fruity and contain more alcohol than is usual in red wine - which describes exactly what Ruby and Tawny ports are about. But ports aren’t the only choice for after dinner reds.

Recent innovations in wine making technology and an increase in wine making know-how has seen an increase in highly alcoholic and highly flavourful wines reach the market – with most labelled as ‘table’ wines designed to match the meat and veg course. But with alcohol levels of over 13.5% these super reds are just too rich to be quaffed even if you wanted to – a couple of glasses will leave you feeling more full than the meal you’re trying to match it to.

wine and corkSo what can you do with these super rich, super flavourful and highly alcoholic reds? Drink them in moderation that’s what and matched to foods with a distinctive enough flavour that won’t get swamped by the dark cherry and dark chocolate flavours: freshly shelled nuts, mature cheeses and sticky desserts.

So what are these super table wines? Well there are five of them. And to bring the total up to the promised Top Eight After Dinner Reds of 2011 there are also three ports – because these were just as tasty and simply couldn’t be left out.

In ascending price here are all eight:

Maynard's port1

Fletcher’s Fine Ruby Port

£5.99 Aldi

Aldi’s own-label port is really rather good: raisin, blackberry and chocolate aromas followed by blackberry with a dash of brown sugar flavours. Quaffable and half the price of big-name brands.


Co-op Premium Ripasso Valpolicella 2008

£7.99 Co-op

This isn’t just Valpolicella, this is a 13.5% Ripasso Valpolicella. Normally a light and fruity quaffing wine, Valpolicella’s flavours result from a blend of Corvina and Rondinella grapes. But let it stew a bit on last season’s partially-dried Corvina grape skins (used already to make the port-like Amarone wine) and the flavours intensify into soft cherry and black coffee. A serious wine.

Maynard's port3

Maynard's Late Bottled Vintage 2007

£8.99 Aldi

Aromas of damson, plum, black cherry and fruit cake. The flavours are fruity and rich: deep damson, dried cherry, dark chocolate and black pepper. An ideal after dinner slurp.

Piccini Memoro 4

Piccini Memoro, Italian Vino Rosso

£9.49 Tesco

This 14% alcohol blended table red tastes of coffee and tobacco flavours with a sweet edge of dried cherries – very port like. Match to the famous cherry and choc dessert, Black Forest gateau.


Maynard’s 10 years old Aged Tawny Port

£9.99 Aldi

Being opened a week turns this light aperitif type port into an after dinner sipper. Initial light fruit cake flavours turn into warming blackcurrant and damson nuttiness.


Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec Dulce Naturel 2009 (organic)

£10.95 (500ml) Vintage Roots

Rather an unusual wine this, a South America version of port – an Argentinean Malbec that’s been fortified (extra alcohol added) to bring it up to 17.5%. Intense blackberry and coffee flavours with cooked cherry and marzipan – it’s just like a light port. But drink up it up quick, this wine oxidises into less than fresh flavours after only a couple of days, so good job it comes in small-sized bottles.


Errazuriz Single Vineyard Chilean Carmenere 2009

£14.95 Stone, Vine and Sun

Hard to get hold of but this 14.5% red is worth it. Smoky blackcurrant yoghurt and Imperial Leather aromas followed by smooth dark chocolate and cherry flavours which then give way to a smoky barbecue edge. Complex stuff.


Les Trois Couronnes Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2008

£15.99 Spar

This last 14% alcohol ‘table’ red comes from Spar, which is better known for its £5 value wines. But this elderberry, sloe and liquorice tasting red is the quill. No one will know it’s not a port.

More Top Wines of 2011 recommendations can be found at Top Ten Whites of 2011 and Top Ten Reds of 2011

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on