Most of us will have enjoyed a glass of Port at some time or another, usually at Christmas when a bottle always seems to make its way out of hiding. Port as an alcoholic beverage has a lot of history to it and a lot of thought goes into its production.
If you would like to know more about this full bodied tipple, keep reading and we will tell you all you need to know.
What is Port?
Port can most accurately be described as a fortified wine. This process involves adding brandy or grape spirit to any wine during the fermentation process. Fortification will increase a wines strength as well as drastically alter its flavour profile, essentially producing an entirely different drink.
There are several different types of Port, each with their own unique flavour profile which are usually bought and drank in terms of preference, just like their base wine components.
Most white Port is produced and bottled young which means that it isn’t aged like its darker varieties are. White Port is often much lighter and makes a great accompaniment to seafood and deserts.
Ruby Port on the other hand is much more widely produced. This dark and rich fortified wine is produced via an extensive aging process which gives it its flavour and body.
The oak barrels which are used in this aging process are sealed as to prevent oxidisation, helping to retain the alcoholic content of each Port as well as add a unique flavour. Different types of barrels will be used and the aging process will be varied in length to produce Ports which are completely different to ones produced by the same producer.
A typical Ruby Port will have been aged for no more than three years as they are meant to be drunk young. Tasting notes will be of fruit which work very well with berry based desserts.
Within the Ruby Port category, you will find a subcategory known as a Vintage Port. These bottles will contain the best grapes of a year’s harvest and are only aged for two years where they are then immediately bottled unfiltered and can be kept unopened for many years.
Bringing up the rear is the Tawny Port which is aged for much longer. It is not uncommon to see grapes of up to forty years old used in some bottles where they are heavily regulated and inspected to ensure quality.
The tasting notes of a Tawny Port are that of dried fruits and nuts. They are also much sweeter and are sometimes drunk as a dessert on their own after a rich meal.
Serving Your Bottle of Port
Port is best served from a decanter. This is especially the case with vintage Ports as there will be an amount of sediment present at the bottom of any bottle. This decanting process will also allow the complex tastes and aromas created during aging to develop further. If you don’t already have a suitable decanter, Port decanters can be bought from several suppliers. Barware & More Port decanters are of a high quality and are available online. There are many more suppliers so feel free to compare prices to receive the best deal.
A good bottle of Port is something to be savoured and enjoyed so enhance your experience with the right decanter.