Last week, I talked about rainy-day wines. Well, it’s still raining this week. So, I’m going to talk about my all-time favorite rainy-day wine: Port. Thank you to The Spruce Eats and Wine Folly for their help with this article.
What Is Port?
Port is a fortified wine from Portugal. If Portugal were like France, this wine made outside of Portugal would need to be called fortified wine. Thankfully, Portugal isn’t like France. So, we get to enjoy “Ports” from all over the world.
Port is a sweet, full-bodied wine that is served as a dessert wine and is made using a variety of grapes in two major styles: Ruby and Tawny. Ruby is red, with berry and chocolate flavors. Tawny is tawny colored, with notes of caramel and nuts and is sweeter than Ruby.
Depending on the type, you will get aromas and flavors of plum, cinnamon, wood, raspberry, blackberry, caramel and chocolate, and and is high in alcohol, thanks to the addition of brandy.
The name is derived from the coastal city of Porto, and authentic port is only produced in the Douro Valley.
Grapes and Wine Regions
Portugal’s Douro Valley is the key viticultural region for growing the more than 50 red and white wine grapes used to make Port. The most common grapes are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz (same grape as Spain’s Tempranillo). These grapes favor the dry climate and rocky soils of the Douro Valley.
Port production starts off similar to other still wines. Once harvested, the grapes are pressed (these wines are still crushed by foot!) to extract the juice and initiate fermentation. The grapes must ferment for several days until alcohol levels reach around 7 percent. The young wine is then fortified with brandy to bring the fermentation process to a sudden stop and to capture the new wine’s youthful fruit notes. The fortification will leave the residual sugar levels considerably higher than most still wines, producing a sweet wine.
Frequently, the batch of young wine is pumped into large oak casks, typically for 18 months or so of aging.
Food Pairings and How to Serve
This wine is very versatile. Enjoy it with richly flavored cheeses, including blue cheese, chocolate and caramel desserts and salted and smoked nuts.
You’ll want to serve the wine just below room temperature, around 60 °F. A typical serving size is a three-ounce pour, which fits nicely into a port glass.
If you have any leftovers, rest assured that they will stay fresh for at least a month, if kept in the refrigerator.
Wine Folly’s Infographic
Wine Folly has a beautiful infographic that I hope you enjoy.