All About Port Article -
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All About Port

Fortify yourself with this warming wine.

An excellent after-dinner drink, port is a wine that's both sweet and strong.

What is Port?

  • Port is wine that has been fortified with brandy during fermentation. The addition of brandy stops the fermentation process, leaving a sweet wine that packs some power.
  • Purely Portuguese, by law port must come from a specific region, from grapes grown in steep, terraced vineyards along the Douro River.
  • The word "port" is not a condensed version of "Portugal" but a reference to the port town Oporto, from which the wines are exported. What does it all portend? Deliciousness.

Why fortify it?

Port was built to last. In the early days of the wine trade, lengthy sea voyages often turned wines to vinegar. Adding brandy to the wines ensured a longer life.

    Types of Port

    Ruby Port:

    • Typically the least expensive type of port.
    • Ruby ports are blends of wine from different vintages.
    • Rubies are usually sold after spending two or three years in large wooden casks. 
    • They are not intended to be cellared.
    • Rubies have warm, berry flavors and deep ruby color.

    Food Pairing Suggestion:

    Enjoy Ruby ports with blue cheese, red cherries, and fresh berry desserts.

    Tawny Port:

    • The best tawny ports are labeled with some indication of their age--10, 20, 30 years old and so on (though this is an average age because they are blends of different vintages).
    • Better tawny ports earn their amber color through long aging in wooden casks, which produces a smooth, soft character and nutty flavors. 

    Food Pairing Suggestion:

    Serve tawny port with chocolate, caramel, dried fruit, nuts (like walnuts and almonds), and aged Cheddar cheese.

    Vintage Port:

    • In years when the quality of grapes and the conditions in the vineyards are exceptional, grapes are set aside to make single-vintage port.
    • Since few years are exceptional enough to pass muster, vintage port is a relative rarity. 
    • Vintage port is labeled with a particular year, unlike most ports which are blends of various vintages. 
    • Vintage port labels include both the vintage year and the year the wine was bottled. 
    • To reach their peak, vintage ports often require many additional years of aging in bottle.

    Feeling spendy?

    Try one of these great vintages from the 20th century: '27, '45, '63, '70, '73, and '85. The 1990s saw several exceptional vintages, too, but these are widely considered too young to drink.

    Food Pairing Suggestion:

    Try with blue cheese (Stilton is a classic pairing), chocolate desserts, and nuts (particularly walnuts and almonds).

    Late Bottled Vintage (LBV):

    • The letters "LBV" on a bottle stand for "Late Bottled Vintage."
    • This designation means the wine is from a single vintage, from a good year but not necessarily one that earned a vintage designation. 
    • The label will show the year of the vintage and the year the wine was bottled. 
    • If the label says "traditional," the wine is unfiltered; decant "traditional" LBV's before drinking as there might be some sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

    Single Quinta Port:

    Quinta means "vineyard" in Portuguese. Single quinta port is made from grapes of a single vineyard. They are made to be aged many years in bottle.

    White Port:

    These are made with white rather than red grapes, which achieve an attractive golden hue after several years of aging in wooden casks. White ports run the gamut from super sweet to quite dry.

      salvador oliveira 
      Dec. 19, 2009 9:05 am
      Port wine was born in Douro, a region of breathtaking landscapes, with a land of unique characteristics which originates a unique wine, famous throughout the world, prouding a region and a country. I invite all visitors to now more about this unique region, as well as the history and process of making this product unique in the world.
      Ricardo Guedes 
      Dec. 21, 2009 9:30 am
      When we drink a glass of Port wine we should be happy!It's more than natural, because we drink a bit of a city, a bit of it's culture, and most of all, a bit of Portugal!
      Victor Azevedo 
      Dec. 21, 2009 11:33 am
      Port was Bacchus his favorit drink! Porto it's life, love, harmony, an exciting and romantic beverage. Cheers!
      Benjamim Afonso 
      Dec. 25, 2009 11:09 am
      ''production of port wine' we must talk about this....Situated in the north of Portugal, the Douro Valley region has attributes (natural and patrimonial resources) that make it unique. A siginificant part of this region is integrated into areas calssified by UNESCO as world Heritage, such as , the historic centre of Oporto (1996) , the Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the côa Valley (1998), and the Alto Douro Wine Region (2001). On the other hand, Douro is also the first wine Region demarcated and regulated in the word(1756 - by Marques de Pombal). This Region, with a long tradition of viticulture has produced a cultural landscape of outstanding beauty that reflects its technological, social and economic evolution. It is an outstanding example of a traditional European wine-producing region, reflecting the evolution of this human activity over time.
      Jan. 18, 2010 3:48 pm
      This was very interesting!
      Feb. 17, 2010 7:51 pm
      Thank you very much for the info.I am not a wine drinker myself but I have friends and frequent dinner guests that are.
      Mar. 18, 2010 6:20 pm
      Port is meant to be sipped and savored!
      Bob E. 
      Apr. 14, 2010 8:43 pm
      I really enjoy port wine after dinner. This gives me a better understanding of the difference of port. Thank you.
      Jun. 9, 2010 11:26 am
      To expand on the statement about the making of port: Not all port-style wines are made by adding brandy during fermentation. At least in other countries, port-style wine is often made by allowing fermentation to stop naturally, adding sugar either before or after that point, and then adding brandy. This allows the yeast to make the maximum amount of alcohol possible, which can then allow a lesser amount of brandy addition.
      Sep. 5, 2010 8:44 am
      Thank you for this information. I've been looking for something different to serve while sitting on our patio next to the fire. Also serving for an after dinner drink.
      Dec. 19, 2010 1:52 pm
      I am SO EXCITED to try Port now! I am a beginning chef, intermediate wine drinker, life-long cheese enthusiast (stilton is a favorite) and love a good brandy -- how did I miss this for son long?? Thanks so much for the information!
      Miss Rhonda 
      Dec. 17, 2011 7:48 am
      I was never interested in wine of any kind until I tried port. I cringe when someone pours me bland, dry wine with no legs! I've tried several ruby and tawny ports and always come back to ruby. I sip it while I cook dinner to unwind from the stresses of the day. If you're a first careful! It's so delicious you may overdo it and have too much. One "port glass" is sufficient. Fascinating history. I hope to visit Portugal someday and see it all first hand and experience the culture for myself.
      May 20, 2013 1:34 pm
      Try drinking American Port not Oporto but "Port"..we are in the Napa Valley and specialize in Port only! Prager Ports are your local producer making Ports for over 30 years.
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