What is Port Wine?

Port is a sweet, red, fortified wine from Portugal.

Port wine is most commonly enjoyed as a dessert wine because of its richness.

There are several styles of Port, including red, white, rose, and an aged style called Tawny Port. While much of the wine we see in supermarket is of average quality, there are many fine Port wines that are highly treasured and cost several hundred dollars.

Real Port wine can only be made in Portugal.

What does Port Wine Taste like?

Rasberry, Blackberry, Caramel, cinnamon and chocolate sauce. Sounds delicious? It is!

Flavours in Port Wine

There are several styles of port, but the 2 major styles include a red Port with berry and chocolate flavours and a a tawny coloured Port with more caramel and nut flavours which is the sweeter of the two.

Older, fine Tawny Ports have an even wider array of subtle flavours including graphite, green peppercorn, hazelnut, almond, butterscotch, and graham cracker. Look for wines aged for 30 or more years for this level of complexity!

The Common Styles of Port Wine

There are many different official categories of Port, but most fall under these 4

  • Ruby (Red Port: a deep red coloured port which includes Vintage,Late bottled Vintage (LBV), Crusted and Ruby Port.
  • Tawny Port: a very sweet barrel-aged port with oxidative nut and caramel flavours
  • White Port: made with indigenous white grapes including Rabigato, Viosinho, Gouveio and Malvasia
  • Rose Port: This is a new style of Port wine made like a rose wine with flavours of strawberry, violets and caramel
Common Types

Serving Port Wine

Port should always be served just below room temp around. A popular way to serve Ruby Port in (with a meal) is on the rocks with a peel of lime!

Pairing with food

Port Wines pair wonderfully with richly flavoured cheeses (including blue and washed-rind cheeses), chocolate and caramel desserts, salted and smoked nuts, and sweet smoky meats.

Port Wine and cheese

What Makes Port Unique?

One of the most important qualities of true Port is the unique blend of Portuguese indigenous grapes. Port grapes include Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca And Tinta Cao, and there are said to be at least 52 varieties! Each grape adds a unique flavour to the blend. For example, Touriga Nacional adds blueberry and vanilla notes, and Touriga Franca adds raspberry and cinnamon notes.

Traditional Port fermants in lagars where people stomp grapes with their feet. Today, most Port wineries use automatic lagars with mechanical “feet” in place of manual labour. However, a few producers still follow the old way!

Port Wine and Cooking

Port is a popular addition to Chocolate cakes, sweet gooey chocolate sauces, and it is even used as a reduction sauce. Reductions are wonderful over savoury dishes like steak (especially a blue cheese topped steak).

Chefs often simmer Port Wine and reduce it to a thick sauce. Port reduction is used much like a balsamic glaze. Port is a flavourful alternative to brown sugar or maple syrup.

Which Port to Use in Cooking?

Most recipes call for the affordable Ruby Port> This style is red and will impart red berry and cinnamon-like flavours into your sauce. Remember, a true Portuguese Ruby Port may cost $10 -$20 a bottle but will last open a long time.

Port Wine Substitute?

In a pinch you can use 2 parts dry bold red wine, 1 part alcohol (brandy or vodka), and about ¼ part sugar. It won’t be ideal, but much better than using red wine!

How Long Does Port Last Open?

  • A Ruby- style Port will stay fresh for about 2 weeks (a month if preserved properly in your fridge)
  • A Tawny Port stays fresh for about a month.
  • Keep wines longer by storing them in a cool dark place and using a vacuum preserver to remove oxygen.

How Long Will Port Cellar?

Vintage Port is designed to age a long, long time!

There are highly – prized Vintage Ports over 100 years old! However,   most Port we see in supermarket is bottled in a way that should be drunk upon purchase. You can tell which is which by looking at the cork.

A Vintage Port has a regular long cork, and the “drink now” style has a plastic topped cork cap.

What is Port Wine?