Characteristics of Port Wine
What is Port wine? It is a well-known toned wine from Portugal with a delightful history. The Port is a sweet wine distributed throughout the world as a digestible and dessert wine; Besides, it’s made with a variety of grapes in two distinguished forms. The ruby and tawny also can display berry, caramel, chocolate, and spice flavors, and it’s high in alcohol thanks to the brandy addition.
One of the most significant properties of authentic Porto is the blend of native Portuguese grapes. The Port grapes introduce Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (known as Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Cão, and it is said that there are at least 52 varieties. Each grape adds a unique flavor to the combination. Grapes cultivated for Port wines are characterized by their small, dense fruit which produces concentrated and long-lasting flavors and fragrances.
It was named Port in the seventeenth century in honor of the port city of Porto, and it’s located at the mouth of the Douro River. It used to be transported downstream from the Douro Valley in ships named Rabelos to market in Porto.
Port wine became famous in England when the war with France decreased the supply of French wine. At the same time, the Treaty of Methuen of 1703 reinforced the port wine trade in that period. The export of this wine was monopolized by important shipping families. For this reason, the producers of the Port have still established “carriers”. The majority were British and, thanks to this, it can be evidenced in the names of well-known Port wines.
Port wine is commonly found in wine stores, liquor stores, and possibly grocery stores. Its quality varies enormously in specialized distributors and high-quality vintages available in wine stores. Numerous versions of this wine are made outside of Portugal, and it can find authentic Portuguese Port with “Porto” on the label. If it is impossible to find a Port wine, you should look for a sweet old sherry of similar quality.
It’s highly recommended that the old port wines should be reserved aside, in a cool and dark environment; let the bottle stand upright for 24 hours before serving and possibly tilted. Once open, the young Port wines’ duration is a few days; In contrast, aged Port wines, such as fawn or vintage ruby, will last for weeks.
Flavors and styles
Port is a sweet wine with a figure and generally lacks acidity. Although lighter-toned wines maintain bright acidity to stabilize sweetness. Further, it has an aroma of nuts and black fruits such as spices, wood, and plum. It’s usually served with or as a dessert. The flavors and tannins fluctuate depending on the type of wine. There are several Port wine styles, but both incorporate a red port with more chocolate and berry flavors. They are with less sweetness, and a fawn-colored port with more flavors of nuts and caramel, this one is with a higher level of sweetness.
- Tawny Port wine: it’s a barrel-aged port wine that maintains flavors of spices, caramel, hazelnuts, dried fruits, green pepper, almond, graphite, and graham cracker. Tawny port wines are ordered according to their vintage 10, 20, 30, and 40 years and are served fresh (50-58 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Ruby Port wine: it is a wine that shows off flavors of berries, spices, and chocolate. Many of the crops are best when they are between 20 and 40 years old; on the other hand, the most accessible alternatives such as “reserve” are determined to be enjoyed first, and it has to be served at temperature (close to 60 degrees Fahrenheit ). A popular way to serve Ruby Port in the summer with a meal is on the rocks with lime zest.
- Vintage Port wine: it is a wine from a single vintage projected in the best years of production. Aged Port wine is usually considered one of the best, and it is aged in barrels for two to four years before being bottled.
- White Port wine: produced with white grapes and exposes brighter flavors, such as apple fruits, stone fruits, citrus peels, and toasted nuts. Reserve White Port is aged for at least seven years to achieve a more distinct nutty flavor, and it should be served cold.
- Rose Port wine: it is made with red grapes that support red fruit flavors; the rose is enhanced with cranberry and brown sugar, and it should be served chilled.
- Colheita Port wine: It’s the type of one-year-old wine that ages in barrels for seven years before being bottled.
Lovers of tasty cheese and delicious desserts consider Port pairing’s versatility and the fascinating capacity to even act as a dessert. However, the precise pairings will vary depending on the Port category.
Tawny Port wine blends perfectly with soft cheeses such as brie and desserts like walnut cake, chocolate cake, or cheesecake. It turns out that Ruby Port’s mouth-watering chocolate and berry flavors combine well with the same types of desserts, like fresh raspberries, dark chocolate truffles, aged cheeses, and fruit cake. White Port wines can be used as a substitute for gin to make a “port and tonic” or a “portini”.
It should be known that accompanying Port wines with food is simply because it is so versatile. Several combinations can be created to pair adequate flavors.
- LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) is the most popular quality Port wine in England and Canada, and Vintage Port combines with brie cheese, venison, dark chocolate, and almonds.
- Ruby Port wine and Reserves blend exceptionally well with chocolate mousse or red fruits, Gorgonzola cheese.
- White Port pairing incredibly well with olives, old Gouda cheese, salted almonds.
- Aged Tawny Port mixed nicely with flan and walnuts.