FORTIFIED wine is a lovely thing, if slightly misunderstood. Yes, there’s more alcohol in your glass (the wine is “fortified” by the addition of a good quality grape brandy) but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Remember, you don’t have to drink the whole bottle in one night. If you find yourself with excess, simply decant it into a smaller bottle and, with less air acting on the liquid, it will last longer and certainly for a week or two. I’ve revisited a port stored in this manner for a few months, and it was still lovely.

Sherry can be any style from bone-dry to rich, sweet and unctuous. My favourite examples are drier, and I’m especially fond of a good Manzanilla from Sanlucar. This needs to be well chilled and makes for a great aperitif (once you’ve finished the gin from last week’s column). At the other end of the meal, you can enjoy a Pedro Ximinez (PX) with a slice of rich fruit cake, some tasty cheeses or just on its own as a digestif.

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Port has to be made from grapes grown in the Douro Valley and shipped from Oporto. The difference between port and sherry in fortification terms is when the brandy is added. Sherry is always fermented out to complete dryness before fortification and then can be sweetened afterwards. Port, however is fortified during fermentation, which leaves a residual sugar in the wine, hence port is always sweet. Port production is very traditional, with many houses still treading the grapes by foot. Don’t worry though, the treaders are supposed to give their feet a quick rinse first. The bottles of port that you’ll find on the shelves of your local wine emporium will either be vintage, late bottled vintage (LBV), tawny, white or ruby. And they all have particular benefits and characteristics.

There are so many excellent and affordable examples of really tasty ports and sherries out there. Here are a few to try this weekend.

Kopke Colheita 2000 (M&S, £30). Kopke is the oldest port house in existence, and this tawny style is exceptional. It’s aged for longer in the barrels (or pipes), and the taste is far more subtle as a result. It's just delicious.

Warres 1980 Vintage Port (Majestic, £90). Come on, what were you doing in 1980, and what have you been doing since? In all that time, this lovely port has been waiting for you. Is it worth the asking price? Yes. It. Is.

Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana Hidalgo (Majestic, £13.99). This is my favourite dry sherry. It’s older than a normal release of Manzanilla, and therefore has far greater depth and intensity of flavour. Let’s make sherry cool again. Try a bottle this weekend.

Pete Stewart is Glasgow director of Inverarity One to One, 185a Bath Street, Glasgow (0141 221 5121) www.inverarity121.com