I tasted a wine so awful today that I felt close to committing myself to a period of abstinence, in a bid to bring my poor, pummelled palate back to life.

Thank goodness I haven’t had to revert to such extreme measures; thanks entirely to Oxfordshire wine merchants S H Jones (www.shjones.com) who had sent me a selection of Portuguese wines that they are promoting as part of National Wine Month.

It’s fair to say that given my mood when I got home that these wines were going to have to be more than a bit special to win me over. (Yes, I know you expect the likes of me to be subjective every time I take a sniff of the vinous stuff but it’s just not possible!) The first surprise was that the case consisted of three whites, one rosé and two reds — not perhaps what any of us would expect from a country that most of us so readily associate with red wines.

I began with the great fun Raza Vinho Verde 2010 (£8.89 or £7.99 case price) that comes in a vibrant, lime green bottle and smells and tastes and fresh and zippy as it looks. There’s a touch of spritz on the palate and then a quite unexpected, ‘chewy’ pear-fruit palate. It was first in the flight and all I can say is that it made me smile — a lot. The next two whites were quite different. The non-vintage regional J P Branco (£6.99 or £6.29 case price) was a floral, aromatic charmer that will, I think, do best as a well-chilled aperitif. The Duas Quintas Branco 2009 (£11.99 or £10.79 case price) was a more sophisticated animal with ripe, textured white orchard fruits with a lovely fleshy feel on the palate and very respectable length. A really good wine for summer dinner parties or with BBQ’d trout.

Both the reds were showing very well. The Ciconia Tinto 2009 is an absolute bargain at £7.99 (£7.19 case price). It’s a blend of Syrah and Touriga Nacional and is laden with ripe hedgerow fruits. The palate is richly concentrated with some fresh spice and fresh acidity too; definitely one not to miss.

Quite a bit pricier is the Monte Da Peceguina Tinto 2008 (£16.99 or £15.29 case price) that has a palate full-to-bursting with flavour. It’s a fairly heady glass of wine with concentrated, figgy black fruits and fine, grainy tannins. It is crying out, I feel, for some tasty roast lamb.

On May 20 and 21, you can take part in the ‘Great Big Portuguese Tasting’ at S H Jones. This free event lasts from 10am on the 20th until 5pm on the 21st when there will be an extensive range of Portuguese wines available to taste with the S H Jones team. The shop will be staying open in their High Street shops until 8pm on the 20th making this an event not to be missed. Everyone who comes and tastes at this event will be invited to enter a competition to win six bottles of Portuguese wine.

In addition, you can book a private tasting at either of the Banbury shops all day on the Friday where you will get one-to-one attention for you and your friends. Please contact tim@shjones.com to book a slot.