Port wine is not only loaded with flavor, it’s also loaded with history. This type of wine has been made for centuries in the Douro Valley in Portugal. Its name comes from Porto, a coastal city in Portugal sitting pretty at the Douro River’s mouth.
From here, 17th-century ships carrying casks of Port traveled to England to supply its citizens with spirits, as they were boycotting French wine because of contentious relations resulting from many wars and disputes.
What Is Port Wine?
Port wine is a fine fortified wine, which means that grape spirits are added during production. It is made from grapes native to Portugal, which gives it distinctness. There are various styles of Port based on how it is aged, each with its own unique characteristics and flavor profile. The main types are wood-aged Ports and bottle-aged Ports.
- Tawny – A blend of vintage wines aged for at least 10 years, this one frequently has caramel, butterscotch, clove, hazelnut, and other sweet, rich, nutty notes.
- Red – Red Ports include ruby Ports and late-bottled vintage Ports. These are full-bodied and fruity in flavor, with notes of cherry or blackberry.
- White – White Port is made from white Port grapes and is aged for two or three years. They can be either sweet or dry. One of the most iconic Port wine brands for this type is Taylor Port Wine – their product, Taylor’s Chip Dry, was released in 1934 and was the first dry white Port.
- Vintage – The best grapes are reserved from the best production years for vintage Ports, which must be “declared” as worthy by a Port producer. This type is usually bottled young but kept tucked away for years, even decades, before it is consumed. Vintage Port is usually considered the best.
Unique Facets and Facts About Port
Port Wine, Cheese, and Port Pairings
Port and foods like cheese go together like a dream. A classic pairing is Port alongside robust Stilton. In general, Port (and its various types) goes well with stout, bold-flavored cheeses that are slightly salty. Other options besides Stilton include Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and aged goat cheese.
Another great use for Port in cooking is a Port wine reduction. This is when Port is cooked and reduced down with garlic and other spices, which creates a rich, thick sauce that pairs wonderfully with roasted meats.
Special port sippers are special glasses design to concentrate the distinct aromas and flavor, making the wine more enjoyable to drink, akin to a total sensory experience. They are also made so that your hand fits around the glass to allow for maximum heat transfer. Your body heat warms up the wine to unleash maximum flavor.
Port Wine Stains
You may have heard of a birthmark which derives its name from Port wine. A Port wine stain birthmark is dark red in color and literally looks as if wine has stained the skin. A Port wine birthmark usually lasts throughout a person’s life.
Port is perhaps one of the most famous and iconic types of wine. Its distinct flavors, pairings, and cultural associations, from the Port wine stain to Port glasses, make drinking it an experience in itself.