Although Porto or Port wine is created in the eastern mountainous range of the Douro Valley in Portugal, its name is in thanks to the city of Oporto, where the wine was originally exported. The first recorded shipments of Porto wine dates back to 1678. For the last several centuries, Port wine has not only put Portugal on the map for fine wine, but also captured the hearts of chocolate and cigar lovers around the world.
Port is a fortified wine, created by adding grape brandy (beneficio) to the wine before fermentation is complete. Made by indigenous grape varieties, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Tinta Barroca, the characteristics of Port wine are very true to the outstandingly unique terroir of the Douro.
Traditionally, Port wine was carried down the Douro River from the Valley to Oporto using boats known as barcos rabelos. It was then unloaded into lodges where it would be further aged, bottled and shipped. Port wine is extremely popular in Britain and Scotland. In fact, many Port producers in the Douro are English and Scottish, such as Taylor’s and Croft respectively.
There are various types of Porto wine that are differentiated by their ageing time:
- Ruby, Reserve and Late Bottled Vintage (LBV)
- Ages for a short time in large oak vats. Ruby is aged for 2-3 years, while LBV is aged for 4-6.
- Full bodies and fruity characteristics of cherry, blackberry and black currant
We recommend: Fonseca LBV 2007
One of the largest and most respected Portuguese Porto producers. The vintage is fresh and intense with rich black fruit. Unfiltered, with no fining or filtration.
- Rich and mellow
- Aged in oak casks for 10, 20, 30 and 40 years
- Typical nutty flavours with butterscotch and oak wood
We recommend: Quinta de Ventozelo 10 Year Tawny
Average of 10 years in pipas (550-litre casks), made of native oak and chestnut.
- Made from white grape varieties popular in the Douro region
- Aged for 2 or 3 years in vats or stainless steel with no further aging required
- Sweet or dry styles
We recommend: Dow’s Fine White Port.
Aged for 3 years at the Quinta do Sol winery, this Porto is semi sweet and can be blended into a cocktail with ice and soda.
- Made from only the best grapes of a single vintage in years that are “vintage-worthy.”
- Aged only for a few years, so it’s best to tuck it away in the cellar
We recommend: Quinta de Ventozelo Vintage 2005
Aged in stainless steel tanks for 2 years, to preserve the maximum purity of the wine. The wine is bottled without filtration at Quinta de Ventozelo.
Porto wine is an excellent addition to any dessert such as fine cheeses or chocolate cake. Better yet, make it a chocolate cheesecake. Or you can easily serve White Port as an aperitif.
If cellaring your Port, store bottles on their sides in a cool place (12ºC to 14ºC) away from direct light. Drink when released if you like young fruity Ports. Good vintages will develop for 15-20 years; in exceptional years, up to a century. Once open, drink within 1 day (old Ports) or 1 week (young Ports).
If you have yet to give Porto a try, we strongly suggest that you do. Tannic members have an exclusive on some of the Port featured. If you aren’t a member, sign up today! Or if you would like to share your favourite Port wines, we would love to hear your recommendations.