Port – What You Need to Know

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In this video I take you through the basics of Port

Once the port is fermented, a neutral grape spirit is added to up the alcohol content and to halt fermentation. When this is done, the Port is placed in oak barrels to age and it’s at this stage that the distinctions in different Port varieties become evident.

The best-known type of Port and possibly the most popular, Ruby Port is divided into sub-sections of Ruby, Late Bottled Vintage and Vintage. The youngest of the three, Ruby Port is aged for a maximum of three years and intended to be drunk fairly soon. Late Bottled Vintage means that the wine has been aged for four to six years before being bottled, allowing it to develop more character whilst still being lighter than a typical Vintage Port. Meanwhile, Vintage Ports are made using the best grapes from a single year and a vintage year is only declared when a harvest is exceptional (on average, every three years in ten). Vintage wines are designed to be kept for years to allow complex flavors to fully develop.

The main difference between Tawny and Ruby Port is the size of the barrel used for ageing. Tawny varieties are aged in smaller barrels, which enables the wine to oxidize, hence its ‘tawny’ hue. Frequently enjoyed during the holidays, Tawny Ports tend to have a spicy aroma and a richness of flavor reminiscent of dried fruit and nuts.

The variety of different Ports means extensive possibilities when it comes to food pairings. Ruby Port goes well with desserts such as fruit pies, whereas Late Bottled Vintages are commonly associated with decadent chocolate desserts. Vintage Port is a match made in heaven with pungent blue cheeses like Roquefort, whilst nutty and creamy desserts like crème brûlée and almond biscotti pair deliciously with a glass of Tawny Port. Enjoyed as an aperitif, White Port works well with antipasti and canapé classics such as olives and charcuterie.

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