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All About Port Wines

Port is a sweet, rich red Portugal’s signature fortified wine made in the Douro Valley. It is often called a dessert wine but different styles can be drunk as aperitifs as well as digestifs because of its richness and sweetness.

How Is Port Made?

The process is the same as wine, except it has brandy added during fermentation. This gives it a higher alcohol content and high viscosity than traditional red wines, which makes them a perfect option for sipping and relaxing. Brandy also ceases the fermentation, ensuring the port retains the grapes natural sweetness. Port has a unique blend of grapes native to Portugal. Up to 52 varieties of grape are used to produce port wine. The presence of many types of grapes gives the port a wide variety of flavours. Port wine usually has strong berry flavours like raspberries, blackberries, and prunes. Nevertheless, some of the other popular flavours of the port include chocolate, dried fruit, cinnamon and nuts and as port ages, there is a wider range of flavours, including green peppercorn, hazelnuts, figs, almonds, and butterscotch.

Types of Port Wine

Rosé Port

It has much stronger berry flavours like strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry sauce. It has a delicious jammy note that gives it more sweetness than white port, but it’s not as rich as a tawny or ruby port.

Ruby Port

It is the least expensive style, aged for two or three years in vat before bottling and sold ready to drink. It does not improve if kept in a bottle.

Reserve Port

It is the next step up from Ruby and has deeper flavours of raspberries, blackberries, chocolate, and cinnamon. It is the kind of wine you want to enjoy slowly. It is aged for at least three years before release.

Tawny Port

It gets its name and colour from extended ageing in wooden casks before bottling. Sometimes sold as 10, 20, 30 or 40 years old, it is a blend of many vintages. Tawny port is ready to drink once bottled and does not improve over time and has mellow flavours of caramel, cloves, cinnamon, hazelnut, fig, and prune.

Vintage Port

It is usually the most expensive Port. It is made in tiny quantities from the best grapes, and only in the very best years. It is aged for two years before being released but can improve for decades in the bottle.

White Port

It is usually a lighter type of port, made with white grapes. Popular flavours include citrus peel, roasted nuts, baked apple, and apricot.

Port and Food

Stronger cheeses like Stilton make great pair with port wine and richer cheeses, like washed-rind cheese and blue cheese, bring out the sweetness of the port wine. The flavours of the berry will complement the flavours of the cheese without overpowering it. The other nice way to pair your port wine with food is to serve it with smoked, salted, or roasted nuts. The nuttiness of port, particularly the tawny port, makes for a gorgeous combination of flavours. Any desserts made with chocolate and caramel will be a good option for pairing with the port.

Port is often served in very small glasses, but a wine glass is much better at capturing and enhancing the aromas so it is best to serve port in standard wine glasses.

Take small sips, and make sure to savour each one!

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