Taste And Flavor Profile
Port is a sweet wine, full-bodied, and typically lacking in acidity, although lighter-hued ports have some bright acidity to balance the sweetness. You’ll find aromas of dried fruit, dark fruits like plum, spice, and wood. It is typically served with or as dessert and the flavors and tannins can vary depending on the type of port:
- Tawny: A barrel-aged red wine port with flavors of caramel, spice, hazelnuts, and dried fruit, tawny ports are also classified based on their vintage, typically 10, 20, 30, and 40 years.
- White: White port is made with white wine grapes and exhibits brighter flavors like stone fruit, apple, citrus peel, and toasted nuts. Reserve white port is aged for at least seven years for a bolder, nutty taste.
- Ruby: Ruby is a red wine port that presents flavors of berries, spice, and chocolate. Most vintages are best when aged 20 to 40 years, while more affordable options like “reserve” are meant to be enjoyed sooner.
- Rosé: A port made with red wine grapes with flavors of red berries, rosé is sweetened with cranberry and brown sugar.
- Vintage: A single-vintage red wine port made in the best production years, vintage port is often considered to be some of the best port and is barrel-aged aged two to four years before bottle aging. Single-quinta ports come from a single estate.
- Colheita: Single-year vintage ports that are barrel-aged for seven years before bottling are called Colheita.
How Port Came To Be
Port is named after Portugals seaport city of Porto in the Douro region, which became an official appellation in 1756, making it the third-oldest wine appellation in Europe. But grape growing and wine production in Portugal, and specifically in the Douro, began thousands of years ago.
The 1386 Treaty of Windsor laid the groundwork for a reciprocal relationship between Portugal and England. By the 15th century, Portuguese wine was exported regularly to England, sometimes in exchange for salt cod. By the 1670s, people began to refer to this wine shipping from the seaside city of Porto as Port.
Since the Douros vineyards are far from Portugals ports, the wines often suffered. Sea travel also took its toll, as the heat and movement inside the barrels deteriorated the wines. To offset this, winemakers began to add brandy to the wines, which extended their shelf life.
Peter Bearsley, whose father founded the Port house Taylors, was one of the first Englishmen to travel to the upper Douro. In the mid-1700s, his family was the first to buy vineyards in the region for wine production.
Around that same time, Portugals prime minister, Marquis de Pombal, began to distinguish vineyards based on quality. A century later, most Port was being made in the manner that it is today: fortified and sweet.
The Essential Guide To Port A Global Powerhouse Born Of A Happy Accident
What is Port, anyway? Likely, youve encountered this potent wine often served at the end of a meal, but where does it comes from?
Port is a Portuguese wine that is made by adding distilled grape spirit, usually brandy, to a wine base. The addition of the high-alcohol spirit stops fermentation and fortifies the wine. Made in Portugals Douro Valley, only wines that are produced in this region can be labeled Port or Oporto in Europe. All grapes must be grown and processed in this specific region.
The soils of the Douro River Valley consist predominately of schist and granite. The region is divided into three zones that sit west to east hugging the river: Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo and Douro Superior. The western part of the valley possesses a Mediterranean climate that produces warm summers and a fair amount of rain, however as you move more inland toward the Douro Superior, the climate becomes more dry and arid.
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How Do I Make Port Wine Cheese Spread
Port Wine Production And Styles
Port wine is subjected to an extensive set of legislation and regulations. According to the Decree-Law n°173/2009 of 3rd of August , the IVDP, located in Oporto city, has the responsibility of promoting and perform the quality control of Port wine, as well as the amount of Port wine that can be produced annually, regulating all the production process, and the protection of the denominations of origin Douro and Port and the geographical indication of the Douro Region. The panel of expert tasters of IVDP is responsible for the certification and approval of wines and wine spirits, as well as the granting of the guarantee seal .
Port wine can be extra dry, dry, semi-dry, sweet or very sweet, according to the levels of unfermented sugars remaining that is dependent on the time of wine spirit addition to stop the alcoholic fermentation .
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The Subregions Of Port
The Douro River Valley runs from the village of Barqueiros to near the Spanish border. The westernmost of the three subregions, Baixo Corgo, gets the most rainfall and has the coolest temperatures. Grapes grown in the Baixo Corgo are used largely for tawny and ruby Ports.
In Cima Corgo, which is east of Baixo Corgo, the average temperature is higher and rainfall not as prevalent. Grapes grown in Cima Corgo are considered better quality than those grown downstream.
Douro Superior, the easternmost subregion, has the smallest volume of grape production, in part because of its river rapids and challenging geography. The area is the warmest and driest of the three subregions, yet produces some of the best grapes.
How To Make Your Own Fortified Wine
It is entirely possible to make your own fortified wines using either the Port or Sherry method . You can choose to use grapes or kits as your base wine.
According to The Winemakers Answer Book when working with a standard kit you can add less water to the grape juice concentrate so that the sugar is between 25-30%. Most kits have sugar levels between 22-24%.
When working with grapes youll want to ensure that you have sugar levels between 25-35 Brix. You may need to chaptalize your must to get sugar levels high enough.
Make sure you pick out a yeast with an alcohol tolerance upwards of 16% or so. Champagne yeasts tend to have high tolerances for alcohol.
When you add your alcohol will depend upon whether or not youre making a sweet or dry fortified wine. If you want a sweet wine taste the it as it ferments and add your fortifying spirit when the sweetness is to your liking.
If youre going for a dry fortified wine go ahead and make your base wine as you normally would and once its done fermenting add your grape spirit.
The amount of alcohol you need to add can be determined using the Pearson Square. In general Ports range in alcohol content from 19-23%.
After fortification proceed with clearing and bottling as you would with any other wine. Potassium sorbate will not be needed as the high alcohol levels will prevent further fermentation.
Delicious photograph by: liz west
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The Fox Hunter Martini
Heres a very luxurious port that will satiate even the most refined palates! The Fox Hunter calls for LBV or Late-Bottled Vintage port rather than a regular tawny or ruby.
Therefore, bear in mind that itll need decanting first! Since it only needs a small amount and youre not willing to take the plunge, opt instead for a classic tawny port.
It requires the following to make:
- 60 Bourbon
- 22 ml Vermouth
- 22 ml LBV Port
- 3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
- Lemon Twist
- Brandied Cherry
Add the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain the ingredients into a coupe glass and garnish with the lemon and cherry.
How Long Is An Open Bottle Of Port Wine Good For
The rule of thumb to understand this is: the longer a Port wine has been aged in oak, the longer it will keep once a bottle is open. Simple.Although you will never get sick from drinking spoiled Port wine, the wine does lose its brightness and flavours with time. You dont need to be an expert to recognize a spoiled wine: the bitter taste and the oaky nose will immediately let you know. So, a bottle of Tawny Port can safely stay open between 3 to 6 months, being ideal for the occasional after-dinner drinker. A Ruby Port holds a maximum of 2 months, whereas a Vintage only lasts 1 to 2 days open. Best to make sure youre really thirsty before popping the cork off a Vintage Port!
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How Do I Store Port Wine
Many ports that youll purchase were made with the intention of you drinking them right away. Of course, the main exception is vintage ports that improve with aging. If you see unfiltered written on the bottle or if it has a cork, chances are it is a Port wine that will mature in the bottle.
You can store port wines in a cool and dark environment, always on the side of the bottle. A cellar is an ideal place but anywhere that does not get hot or have fluctuations in temperature will do just fine.
What Makes This Port Wine Cheese The Best
Most of the other copycat recipes for port wine cheese Ive seen online either;direct you to;blend straight port in with all the cheese, which I think lends a harsh edge from the alcohol, or they make a sort of port Jell-o made with port and gelatin and then layer that in with the cheese spread.
Since gelatin is an animal product, when you use it in an otherwise vegetarian recipe, you are automatically turning it into a non-vegetarian recipe.
And the gelatin isnt necessary anyway, especially if you make a reduction. Which leads me to another reason this cheese spread is the best:
The truly magical ingredient in my port wine cheese is the port reduction.
Reducing the port yields a thick, intense and sweet port wine reduction or syrup bursting with the pure essence of port without the excess alcohol that can lend a harsh quality to the spread or the excess liquid that could potentially cause the cheese ball to weep.
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A Brief History Of Port
With its production and the types of Port out of the way, how about a little history on how it became world famous. One of the biggest reasons for its growth and popularity was reportedly because of the British Empires conflicts with France. Cut off from its traditional supplier of wine in France, the British began to look for another wine supplier to fulfill its needs. The Treaty of Methuen in 1703 would result in low import duties on wine from Portugal, during times of war with France. From here, there are two stories about the creation and popularity of Vinho do Porto.
The first is based on exporting wine by long distance. Unfortunately, the distance by sea between Portugal and England was much longer than between France and England, and much of the wine was spoiled during the long journey. To remedy this, the wine producers began adding additional alcohol during its production. As described above, this alcohol, increased the alcoholic content of the wine, and increased the final sugar content of it too. This stronger and sweeter wine was able to survive longer without spoiling and became quite a hit in England.
Other Fortified Wines In Portugal
The Douro Valley is a geographical demarcation with clearly defined limits. If you try to make Vinho do Porto outside of the region, it cannot be called port. That hasnt stopped at least a few people trying though. Another type of fortified wine popular in Portugal is Madeira Wine. The climate in Madeira was well suited to growing grapes. However, in the 15th century they found that they could not transport the wine back to the mainland without it spoiling. Taking ideas from Port, the winemakers added a distilled alcohol this time made from native sugar cane to the wine during fermentation. This again, retained the sugar and alcohol content which stopped it from spoiling at sea. Similarly, to Vinho do Porto, Madeira wine is also protected and cannot be sold unless from Madeira. Youll usually find Madeira wines next to the ports at supermarkets. ;;
Well there you go! Port wine explained, next time youre at a bar or in the supermarket you should be able to choose a great port. Let us know in the comments what your favourites are!
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Port Wine Ageing Process
The ageing process is an important period for this wine and includes storage, ageing in wood barrels or vat tanks and/or bottle ageing. When aged in old wood barrels their size depends on the Port wine style. Wine intended for Ruby and Vintage Port wine production will be aged in large wood barrels and that intended for Tawnies will be aged in small ones. The Tawny Port wine undergoes an oxidative ageing process, while Ruby and Vintage Port have a much less oxidative ageing termed reductive ageing process .
Ruby, Reserve and LBV Port wines usually age in large wood barrels for two, three years or even six years and have a deep red youthful colour and intense fruity flavours, evocative of cherry and blackberry. Tawny Port wines age for longer periods in small wood barrels and show nuttiness and aroma of butterscotch. White Port wines usually age for two or three years in large wood barrels. Traditionally, White Port wines are fermented with skin contact like Red Port wines; in this case, the wines are aged in conditions that results in its oxidation. Nevertheless, the trend is for a shorter maceration period, to obtain White Port wines with a pale colour and fresh aromas . Like Red Port wines, most White Port wines are fortified when half of the grape sugar concentration has been fermented. Semi-dry and dry White Port wines are fortified later, or when alcoholic fermentation is finished .
How Port Wine Is Made
Port wine grapes are handpicked during harvest in mid-September. However, handpicking doesnt necessarily suggest a superior technique.
Typically, grapes are handpicked when the tractors struggle with the terrain.
Indeed, the Duoro terraces and steep slopes are too narrow for tractors and protected by UNESCO. Nevertheless, winemakers are able to renovate them or build new ones with permission.
Although most wine is fermented from a single grape variety and occasionally blended later, port wine grape varieties are processed together.
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What Is Port Wine
Port wine is a fine fortified wine with its grape spirits added during the production process. It is made from grapes obtained from Portugal which gives it a distinct and unique feel to other wines. There are different styles of Port wine depending on how you age it, flavor profile, and unique characteristics. Port wines are obtained from blending wine with brandy. The blending makes the drink stronger and more shelf-stable.
Port wine is categorized in the same division as other strong wines like , Vermouth, Madeira, and Sherry. You can use it in many of the same ways you use the above-mentioned spirits: consumed as it is, mixed with punches or cocktails, and used as an ingredient for cooking when the recipe demands a lot of flavors and a bit of de-glazing.
Port Wine Cheese Ball: Tips For Making Ahead
Blending cheddar, cream cheese, and an intense port wine reduction yields the most flavorful port wine cheese ball that wont weep even after several days in the fridge.
- Make the port reduction up to several days in advance and keep it in the fridge.
- You can also make and assemble the cheese ball a few days ahead of when you need it. Yes, you can even roll it in the chopped nuts ahead of time.
- All youll need to do before serving is roll it in some chopped herbs and then let it sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes for the best texture.
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Port Wine For Dummies
So you finally made good on your New Years resolution and are learning about Portuguese wines. Congratulations! There is a lot to learn, and drink, and I suggest you to start by;participating in a virtual Port wine tasting, the perfect excuse to get together with your family, friends or colleagues from work.
But in our Douro Valley tours, as I ramble on about Portuguese wine, different types of oak and mid-18th century politics, a question often arises: But Pedro, what is Port wine?.Alright. Lets rewind.Today we are going back to square one. We will talk about Portuguese wine and Port wine, no prior knowledge required. Remember, there are no stupid questions. Lets start?
Making Port Wine At Home
Whichever type of port wine you prefer, you can make your own batch at home with the right ingredient kit. Wine kits typically include concentrated grape juice and specially chosen varieties of yeast. To make the wine, you combine the ingredients according to the instructions in the kit. You then allow the wine to ferment for the specified period, often about six weeks. Finally, you transfer the wine to bottles or casks and allow it to age to your own taste preferences.
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