Learn about Port — styles, food pairings and more ...
Blended from the most important red grapes of the Douro Valley, Port is based on Touriga Nacional with over 80 other varieties approved for use. However, typically only four other varieties play a major role: Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Touriga Franca. Other wine regions of the world can produce fortified port wine of a similar style from the same grapes or other grapes.
Tasting Notes for Port Wine
Port is a sweet, fortified wine with numerous styles: Ruby, Tawny, Vintage, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), White, Colheita, and a few unusual others. Ruby Ports usually pack the most value and are ready to drink once bottled. Typical characteristics are ripe cherry and blackberry flavors with stewed plums, cocoa and dates. Tawny ports are “tawny” in color and have flavors of toffee, caramel, toasted pecans, vanilla, dried apricot, citrus peel, green figs and roasted espresso. The age designation on a Tawny port indicates the average age of the grapes in the bottle. These are not intended for age once bottled. When Port wine is made with high quality grapes selected from a single notable vintage, it is called Vintage Port. Some of the best recent vintages are 2016, 2011, 2007, 2003, 2000, 1997 and 1994. Vintage Port is complex full-bodied with many flavors possible: concentrated blackberry, black cherry, raspberry and spice, smoke, coffee and chocolate. Vintage ports tend to improve in the bottle up to approximately 30 years from the vintage. LBV Port comes from a single-vintage Ruby Port and may spend six years in the barrel before being bottled. These are ready to drink 3-6 years after release. Serve most Ports slightly chilled at around 55-65°F.
Perfect Food Pairings for Port Wine
Pecan pie, biscotti and crème brûlée are perfect food pairings for Tawny Port. Molten chocolate cake, dark chocolate covered cherries and chocolate trifle work well with Ruby Port. An assortment of nuts and cheese will pair with almost any sort of Port wine.
Sommelier Secrets for Port Wine
Colheita is best explained as a Tawny port from a single vintage. These must be aged in wood for at least seven years before release, though most are aged longer.
Dow's Vintage Port (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1985Port from Portugal