What is Port Wine!?
Port is wine that has been fortified with aguardente (sometimes referred to simply as “brandy”) during fermentation. The addition of high-alcohol brandy stops the fermentation process in its tracks, leaving a sweet wine that packs some power.
Port is a sweet wine with flavors of raspberry, blackberry, caramel, cinnamon and chocolate sauce. There are several different kinds of port, but two primary styles:
- A red Port with more berry and chocolate flavors (and slightly less sweetness)
- A tawny-colored Port with more caramel and nut flavors (and more sweetness).
Port must come from a specific region in Portugal, from grapes grown in steep, terraced vineyards along the Douro River. However, the word “port” is not a condensed version of “Portugal” but a reference to the port town Oporto, from where the wines are exported.
Tawny is aged in wooden casks and released ready to drink. The best tawny ports are labeled with some indication of their age – 10, 20, 30 years old and so on. This is an average age because they are blends of different vintages.
Serve tawny port with chocolate, caramel, dried fruit, nuts (like walnuts and almonds), and aged Cheddar cheese.
Pair with spiced cookies, gingerbread, almond cakes, or orange-scented desserts.
Delicious paired with a creamy dessert such as cheesecake or creme brûlée.
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.
Warre's Ruby Port: Enjoy with red cherries, chocolate desserts and fresh berry desserts.
In years when the quality of grapes and the conditions in the vineyards are exceptional, grapes are set aside to make single-vintage port. Vintage port is a relative rarity, since few years are exceptional enough to be declared vintage worthy. Vintage port is labeled with a particular year, unlike most ports which are blends of various vintages. Vintage ports are big wines, with black-fruit flavors and powerful tannins when young.
Pair with something equally intense, like a rich, dark-chocolate dessert.