Port isn’t just for Christmas but for many of us, it is the only time of year we buy a bottle. So, if you are making your annual Port purchase read our Port profile first to remind yourself of the best way to enjoy a glass.
Port originated in Portugal in the 18th Century. It first became popular in England when the English were at war with France and no longer had access to French Wines. Port was a good wine to import as it is fortified with brandy, acting as a preservative the brandy made the wine stay fresh on overseas voyages. It’s also the brandy in Port that gives it a higher alcohol content than most other wines.
How to drink Port
Ideally, Port should be served in a narrow wine glass at around 18 degrees (just below room temperature). Only fill the glass half-way so the wine can aerate and you can appreciate its aroma.
The Cheese and Chocolate
To best enjoy your Port as a digestif I recommend pairing it with either a sweet or savoury treat. A strong veined blue cheese like Stilton, Roquefort or Gorgonzola or a well-aged Cheddar is considered the best cheese companion. These pungent cheeses offset the sweetness of your Port creating the perfect balance. If you want to take it to the next level add some grapes and walnuts to your Port experience to perfectly complement your palette.
Dark Chocolate between 50%-70% is a good match for drinking Port. Port’s sweetness makes the chocolate taste even more decadent, don’t go too dark or too light though or the balance will be off.
Tawny versus Ruby
These are the two most common types of Port you will come across. But what is the difference?
Ruby Port has quite simply spent less time in its wooden cask before being blended and bottled. Thus, it has not had time to lose its redish hue. The Tawny Port is slightly smoother and is less sweet. It has often been aged for around twenty years and has had the time to pale and lose its ruby colour. When it comes to choosing it is really up to personal preference.
Colheita Ports are great as they are a little less heavy than a traditional vintage port. They are tawny ports aged in small oak barrels from a single vintage. Colheitas change dramatically during this extended time in cask and take on flavours of dried fruits, nuts, citrus and exotic spices, while becoming very smooth and complex the older they get. They are also amazing with cheese and a game of Pictionary!
Looking to buy a Port to enjoy this Christmas? I recommend the Port Dalva 20-Year-Old Tawny. The crystallised oranges, spices and dried figs create an aroma that is the epitome of Christmas. It is an elegant Port with an aftertaste reminiscent of coffee and cinnamon. It also goes excellently with all types of desserts.
I also recommend these excellent drops: