Port: A Drink For The Season
Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2012
Few wines are savored as easily as a glass of Port. There is something inherently warming and sophisticated about Port that even non-connoisseurs can appreciate. However, with its unique characteristics, Port stands apart from other wines. The wide variety of styles, degrees of sweetness and assortment of colors can be cause for more than a little confusion. As Port's peak season is upon us, we offer a quick refresher on one of the world's iconic wines.
True Port is a product of the rugged mountainside vineyards of Portugal's Douro River Valley. Here the five principle grape varieties from which Port is made grow in areas best suited to their individual characteristics, developing the flavors, structure and color each will bring to the final wine.
Blended red wines from the great regions of the world are not unique. Port's defining characteristic is the fortification process, in which the addition of brandy half-way through fermentation raises the alcohol percentage to 17-20%. This puts an end to the natural fermentation by yeast and leaves behind the unfermented grape sugars we know as Port's signature sweetness.
Like Champagne, Port has its imitators in other wine-producing areas around the world, California and Australia chief among them. As the value can be excellent, we stock and recommend many of these quality wines as well, but true Port is individual in its flavor and the wide varieties of styles in which it is available.
|WOOD AGED PORTS||Styles deriving their flavors from the amount of time spent in cask before bottling. Intended for immediate consumption; no significant benefit to aging.|
|RUBY PORT STYLES|
|TAWNY PORT STYLES|
|BOTTLED AGED PORT||Wines with shorter cask aging that develop most of their character as they mature in the bottle.|
Suggested Food Pairings
|RUBY PORTS||Soft-ripened cheeses, pears poached in Port, cheesecake.|
|TAWNY PORTS||Dried apricots, aged Gouda, lighter blue cheeses, mocha brownies.|
|LATE BOTTLE VINTAGE AND CRUSTED PORTS||Dark chocolate, toasted almonds, Parmigiano-Reggiano or other hard aged cheeses.|
|VINTAGE PORTS||Stilton, walnuts or a good cigar.|