A national symbol, this Portuguese fortified wine is loved worldwide craze for its full-bodied profile, which invites the drinker to contemplate while sipping. It has been this way ever since the 18th century, when a British merchant realised that the wine he was sending to his country could not withstand the sea journey. He therefore thought of fortifying it by adding distilled grape juice to the wine which was met with immediate success. Let’s go and discover this legendary beverage.
Porto, a large family
Even though the majority of Ports are red, whites and, even rarer, rosés also exist. For each type of Port, there are different categories which will take a look at below.
- Ruby: A blend of wines from different vintages aged for about three to five years in large wooden barrels.
- Tawny: This is Port that has been aged for at least five years in 500-litre, oak barrels that imparts an oxidative characteristic to the wine. There are different types of Tawny Port based on how long it was aged for: Tawny (5 to 6 years), Tawny Reserve (7 to 8 years), Tawny with time they spent ageing on the label (10, 20, 30 or 40 years) as well as Tawny Colheita, in other words vintage port.
- LBV (Late Bottled Vintage): Crafted from a single harvest, it is matured for between four and six years in large oak barrels. It is generally released earlier than Tawny Colheita.
The result of a long maceration period and oxidative ageing, white Port can be divided into two groups:
- The classics and reserves which are aged in large wooden vats or barrels.
- Colheita (= vintage) or those released with time they spent ageing on the label which are matured in smaller barrels, allowing more oxidation to take place.
Inviting Port to dinner
Port’s generosity allows them to be paired with dishes that are full of character. Here are a few suggestions:
- White Port: Opt for fleshy fish, white meats, or a platter of creamy cheeses. Vegetable tarts and smoked fish would also be possible pairing possibilities.
- Ruby Port: Ruby Port’s intense fruit means that it will pair wonderfully with slightly sweet vegetables, such as pumpkin, blue cheese, foie gras and a fig chutney, and red fruit desserts fruits.
- Tawny or vintage Porto: Their chocolate and dried fruit notes mix wonderfully with lavish desserts like chocolate fondant with hazelnuts. The sophisticated oxidised character allows them to also accompany flavourful meats in a sauce or extremely mature cheeses such as Mimolette Vieille, the mature cheese from Lile.