Blending requires exceptional skill, knowledge, and a well-educated nose. Master blenders combine ports from different years and various quintas to create a certain taste. They may use a few different ports or a great many, to give the wine the desired flavour, aroma, texture and complexity.
One master once compared blending port to a composer writing a symphony. The different ports are the notes on the piano and he combines them in just the right way to create a masterpiece.
It is not only the blending of ports that creates the desired taste. The "flavours" of the different barrels can change the taste and characteristics of the finished port wine. Master blenders regularly line up empty casks in the cellars and inhale the aroma from each one. Some used port barrels are shipped to Scotland where they are used to age scotch whiskey and add their sweet flavour to the finished product.
Types of Port