Get Primed for Port, A Delicious Wine In Every Season
Port is Portugal's most famous wine, an elixir full of complexities and nuances that any wine drinker can fall in love with. Port is so much more than a mere after dinner drink. With its many styles, there's always room for a glass of Port.
The Douro Valley is synonymous with Port although it has recently garnered attention for its compelling dry reds. The steep slopes of the valley are ideal for producing intensely flavoured grapes – the ideal building blocks for first-rate wine. There are dozens up grape varieties, but the most common Port grapes include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Cão.
Discover the Douro Valley's Subregions
Starting from the west and moving inland, we have Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo, and Douro Superior. Baixo Corgo is a touch cooler and rainier thanks to Atlantic influences affecting the climate and produces lighter wines. Cima Corgo is known for premium quality grapes. This where you'll find the highest concentration of quintas (or Port houses) as well as some of the finest examples of Port around. Finally, Douro Superior lies the farthest inland and exhibits the most continental climate of the three subregions, being excruciatingly hot in summer and fiercely cold in winter.
The Types of Port
There are several styles of Port. We've outlined the basic need-to-knows for you.
- Ruby Port – Inexpensive, fruit-focused and doesn't improve with age. Enjoy in its youth.
- Reserve Port – Essentially, a high-quality Ruby Port. Drink on release.
- Late Bottle Vintage Port (LBV) – Aged between four and six years, LBV Ports offer brilliant value particularly for Vintage Port fans without the price tag.
- Vintage Port – Produced from a single vintage and largely bottle aged, vintage Port is the most expensive style and can age for many, many years.
- Single Quinta Port – Vintage Port from a single vineyard. Some of the finest Port available
- Tawny Port – Tawny in colour and has toffee and nut flavours due to oxidation in barrel.
- Colheita Port – a Tawny Port from a single vintage and aged for at least seven years.
- 10, 20, 30, 40-year old – Tawny Port made from a blend of vintages. The number on the label is the youngest Port in the blend.
Great Port doesn't need to be expensive. Yes, vintage Port is costly, but you can look to other styles for excellent luscious flavours and wonderful complexity at a reasonable price.
If you love vintage Port but aren't keen on the prices, it's time you became acquainted with Late Bottled Vintage Port. There are plenty of fresh berry flavours to be found in a glass of LBV Port. What's more, it's an absolute revelation with chocolate in all its forms. You can experiment with other pairings as well. It may sound unorthodox, but LBV Port works well with game meat such as venison and duck in fruit glazes.
Tawny Ports are also top value-for-money wines. With their rich, nutty flavours Tawny Ports are wonderful choices for cheese plates and desserts (especially anything with nuts), but this style also works a treat with paté.
Port is marvellous for warming up on cool evenings and is a truly delicious way to end a meal, whether or not you're eating dessert. After all, Port is rather like dessert all on its own!