How To Store Port Wine
Store Port wine in a cool and dark location. As long as you dont open it, you shouldnt put it in the refrigerator. A rack in your cellar with a steady temperature is perfect.
If the bottle has a cork cap, it should lay on its side so the cork doesnt dry out. If not, you can also store it standing up.
Vintage Ports should always lie on their sides, just like table wines. Ruby and Tawny Ports are ready to drink once released and can either be stored upright or on their sides.
Single Quinta Vintage Port
Quinta is the word for estate and refers to the specific vineyard of origin. Single Quinta Vintage Port , is wine from a single property during one exceptional year . These are some of the most exclusive to come across and sometimes most sought after by collectors. However, that might not mean they are the absolute best. In a vintage year, the port houses will blend the best grapes from a variety of quintas to produce their vintage port. An SQVP is the wine from one estate and although a vintage, may not represent the absolute highest quality of grapes. Usually, the bigger port houses will not produce an SQVP during a vintage year, as theyll want their best grapes to support their Vintage production and not SQVP. However, most of the port houses will have single quinta when a vintage is not declared.
This means that although exclusive, they are not always as expensive as a Vintage. The smaller quintas can essentially, produce a Single Quinta Vintage whenever they feel they have enough grapes of high enough quality.
How Long Does Port Wine Last When Open
Thanks to the added brandy, Port wine will last much longer than regular table wine after opening the bottle. If you recap the bottle, you can store most types for at least two to four weeks at room temperature. To keep them longer, put them into the refrigerator. That can slow down the oxidation process that causes the wine to go bad. A chilled Port wine stays fresh for up to three months.
However, there are exceptions: Vintage Port that doesnt age for a long time in barrels goes off much faster than Ruby or Tawny wines that spend decades in oak casks. So drink Vintage Port, especially if its very old, soon after opening it.
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Should You Decant Port Wine
You can decant Port wine, but in most cases, it isnt necessary. Only if a bottle has the word unfiltered on its label, you should absolutely decant it before serving. Thats usually the case for older Vintage Ports because they can contain sediment in the bottle. To get rid of it, store the bottle standing upright for a couple of hours before opening it. When pouring the wine in the decanter, make sure to leave the sediment in the bottle. Alternatively, you can use a decanter with a sediment filter.
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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What Are The Different Types Of Port Wine
There are several different types of port wines, which vary depending on how long a port wine was aged and what kind of vessel was used for the aging process.
These are some of the most common types of port wines:
- Ruby port: Just like their name suggests, ruby ports are a bold red color and usually have a fruity taste with berry and plum undertones. Ruby ports are aged for two to six years in oak vats.
- Tawny port: Tawny ports are aged in oak casks for a longer period of time than ruby ports. The lengthier aging process in wood creates a lighter color in the wine, typically amber or light brown, and allows the wine to develop more complex flavors with nutty and wood undertones.
- White port: Made from white port grapes, these port wines are aged for a short period of time in large vats. They are typically served chilled, have dry and light flavors, and are mostly enjoyed as an aperitif.
Major Flavor Generation Mechanisms During Aging
A common denominator in the production of Port wine is that they are produced under oxidative conditions and for long periods of storage. Therefore oxidation reactions and the Maillard reaction are the most important mechanisms with impact on typical flavor of Ports. The Maillard reaction was named after the French chemist Louis Maillard who first described it, but it was much later when the first description of the chemical process was published, consisting of a reaction between a reducing sugar and an amino acid .
Nucleophilic compounds like amino acids or amines easily add to the carbonyl function of reducing carbohydrates with the formation of imines and this can rearrange via the 1,2-eneaminols corresponding to the 1,2-enediol. This rearrangement leads to an amino-ketose called an Amadori compound. Degradation of an Amadori compound is pH dependent therefore, at wine pH it is degraded via 1,2-enolization, resulting in the production of 3-deoxyglucosone . This compound has already been identified and quantified in both naturally and forced-aged sweet Port wines. In Ports, the concentration of 3DG increases with aging, going from 48.2 mg/L to 100 mg/L . To better understand the impact of O2 on 3DG formation, a forced-aged protocol has been performed. Wines were stored in the presence and absence of O2, and no differences were observed in samples related with O2 .
Fig. 19.2.4. Oxygen reduction mechanism.
Anne M. Comi, in, 2015
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Pairing Port With Food
Port is great with stronger cheeses, such as Stilton. Richer cheeses, like washed-rind cheese or blue cheese, bring out the sweetness of the Port wine. The berry flavours will enhance the cheese flavourswithout overpowering it.
A small chunk of Stilton, a mince pie and a glass of Port is an unbeatable combination.
Another great way to pair Port with food is to serve it with smoked, salted, or roasted nuts. The nuttiness of port, particularly Tawny Port, makes for a gorgeous combination of flavours. Any desserts made with chocolate and caramel will be a good option for pairing with Port.
Similar Drinks & Port Substitutes
Ports closest geographical relatives are sherry and Madeira, which are also fortified wines. However, the processes involved in producing them are quite different, which results in unique beverages.
Firstly, sherry is produced in the Province of Cádiz along Spains southern coast. As it is fortified after fermentation rather than during the process, it results in a drier flavour profile. Furthermore, it is aged using its unique Solera system, which has also been incorporated into some rum production.
While Madeira is Portuguese, it originates from the eponymous island west of Morocco on the African continent. Although it may be fortified during or after fermentation, it differentiates itself by using an Estufagem process where the wine is heated.
A more distant relative to port is ratafia, another fortified wine, which mustnt be confused with Italian ratafia liqueur. However, ratafia is produced using the grape must with unfermented grape juice. A notable example of French ratafia is Ratafia de Champagne.
Finally, both cognac and Armagnac share a common ancestry with port wine. Initially, both alcoholic spirits were originally wines that were fortified by Dutch traders who added grape spirit to wines that they shipped from France.
However, they soon sought to distil the wines entirely, which resulted in the celebrated alcoholic spirit. Indeed, in both cases, the intention was the same and they were originally created so that wine could withstand ocean transportation.
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Your First Bottle Of Port: Ruby Port
Start with a Ruby Port. Ruby Port is on the opposite side of the spectrum from Vintage Port in almost every way, which, for the novice Port appreciator, has more pluses than minuses. Vintage Port, while the undisputed King of Ports, is less enjoyable for everyday imbibing because it has to be treated like fine chinaits fragile, expensive, and only for special occasions. In fact, its so delicate that it has to be consumed within 24-48 hours of opening the bottle.
A worthy Ruby Port, on the other hand, costs around $15 and stays good for a month or longer after uncorking it. Ruby Port is typically a blend of young Ports that have been barrel-aged for about three to five years.
Ruby Port is often filtered , meaning its ready to drink as soon as its bottledno decanting required. This makes Ruby Port perfect for popping open and serving in a small glasses along with fruit, cheese and other desserts.
Most Ruby Port is fruit-forward, making it tasty and accessible, albeit starkly less complex than more expensive Ports. Ruby Port can even be served slightly chilled, on the rocks or in cocktails .
For recommended buys, see this Seattle Times column by Paul Gregutt. He gives some excellent descriptions of his top ruby Ports, but Ill give you the highlights very quickly here:
Vintage And Late Bottle Vintage: Dows Lbv Vintage 2011 $25
An affordable but complex LBV that demonstrates port versatility no matter how you try and use it. If youre only buying one bottle of port, consider starting with this one from Dows.
Article originally published by Clay Whittaker on December 17, 2017. Last updated March 2020.
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Best Under $: Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port
Courtesy of Wine.com
Among the first makers of port to invest in their own vineyards back in the 1890s, Grahams has earned the accolades as a major port producer to this day. The Six Grapes label has been produced in Portugals Douro Valley for over a century and remains one of their most desired wines. Heres a little secret: in years when Grahams declares a vintage, the best of the best grapes go into the vintage bottling and the remaining, equally remarkable grapes, are blended into Six Grapes. The vintage-dated bottle runs into triple digits, while Six Grapes remains a sturdy under-$30!
This bottle has strong aromas of plum, bolstered by notes of blackberry, currant, cassis and dark chocolate, with raisin and fig on the palate. This pairs well with rich desserts like fudge or cheesecake and stays fresh for two to three weeks after opening.
How Do You Drink Red Wine
Pour your wine into your wine glass.
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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.
From 1750 Onwards: The First English Owned Port Winery Is Born Phylloxera & Fortification
An early English pioneer in the Douro wine trade was Peter Bearsley, son of the founder of Taylors, who was said to be the first English wine merchant to make the hazardous trip into the upper Douro in search of the best wines. In 1755 the Bearsly family were the first to buy vineyards and make their own wine in the Douro, which gave a great advantage. Today the estate near Regua still belongs to the Taylor family which is commemorated in the Taylors First Estate Reserve Port.
In 1744 Bartholomew Bearsley became the first British wine shipper to buy a property in the Douro. It was a bold move and gave him great advantage, allowing him to build relationships with the farmers and secure the first pick of their wines. The property, at Lugar das Lages near the old town of Régua, is still owned by the company and its purchase is commemorated in Taylors First Estate Reserve Port.
Another important figure in the history of Port was the Marquis de Pombal, Portugals prime minister, who in 1757 took strict measures to demarcate the Port vineyards according to their quality. Those producing the finest wines were mainly for export and demanded higher prices were known as vinhos de feitoria. The wines for the home market were less qualitative and were called vinhos de ramo.
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The Grape Varieties Of Port
Touriga Franca is the easiest to cultivate and, therefore, the most widely planted variety. Touriga Nacional, though the most difficult to manage in the vineyard, is seen as the most desirable.
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There are more than 30 grapes that can be used in the production of white Port, which includes varieties like Donzelinho Branco, Sercial, Malvasia Fina, Viosinho, Rabigato, Gouveio and Folgasão.
What Do You Serve With Port Wine
Port wine pairs best with cheese and desserts, but can also be enjoyed with seafood or as an aperitif.
These food pairings work well with different types of port wine:
Ruby port wine: Dark chocolate, truffles, poached pears, cheddar cheese, dates, stinky blue cheese
Tawny port wine: Nut-based desserts, ice cream, apple tarts, dried cherries caramel, creme brulee, parmesan or manchego cheese
White port wine: Salted nuts, chips, foie gras, shellfish, olives, charcuterie
In short, ruby port wine typically pairs best with rich and decadent foods, tawny port wine is better with milder desserts, fruits, and tangy flavors, and white port is best served chilled with saltier foods.
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How Should You Serve Port Wine
The ideal temperature for Port wine is just below room temperature, around 60°F. This Portuguese wine is so special, it even gets its own wine glass! A Port wine glass is 3 oz, making it smaller than a regular wine glass. Pour your guests a small amount of Port paired with delicious chocolate and raspberry truffles, and youll be the talk of the town!
From White To Tawny Ruby To Ros
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Liquor / Chloe Jeong
There are two kinds of wine that are distinctly Portuguese. One is the very satisfying mostly-white, rosé, and red wines from the Vinho Verde region, and the other is the sweet fortified port wine which also happens to be one of the countrys national treasures.
There are many kinds of fortified sweet wines, but a wine is only considered port if the grapes are grown in Portugals Douro Valley region where many of todays famed wineries were founded centuries ago. In particular, the Alto Douro region is the planets oldest demarcated wine region where wine has been made for over 2,000 years, technically making it a pre-historic winemaking region.
Maybe all this mind-blowing history is too overwhelming to wrap your head around. But dont worry you dont have to think about the wine, you just have to drink it. Thankfully, port wines are among the worlds top dessert wines, either to pair with a dessert or to have as a dessert. And thats why we put together this list of our best port wine selections, so you can have your cake and drink it too. Just please rememberserve them nicely chilled.
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Vintage And Late Bottle Vintage
Vintage ports are made entirely of grapes from a single vintage. The main difference between vintage and LBV is that the former is more expensive, coming from a year that is a Declared Vintage, which are years when the wine industry collectively agrees that they have had an exceptional harvest. LBV may not have notoriety, but its often significantly cheaper as regular Vintage port.
As A Historical Remedy For Illness
Port has been used in the past as a healing agent in earlier remedies. The British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger was given port for gout as a boy. He began at the age of 14 with a bottle a day according to J. Ehrman : “The Younger Pitt”. Heavy alcohol consumption is known to exacerbate gout.
A recurring theme in the novels of Anthony Trollope is the partiality of respectable elderly ladies for port, which they excuse on the grounds that it is “medicinal”.
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