Refreshing White Ports
The ideal serving temperature varies with the type of port. The dryer the port, the cooler the ideal serving temperature. White ports are best when served chilled as an aperitif. White port makes an excellent apperitif and a refreshing mixed drink called a Portsplash or Portonic (mix of half white port, half tonic water, ice and a twist of lemon). Accompanied by salted nuts or roasted almonds, it is the perfect summer drink.
Full Bodied Red Ports
These include Ruby Ports, Reserve Ports and Late Bottled Vintage Port. These wines do not need to be decanted. Serve these ports at room temperature or slightly cooler, around 20°C. If they are served too warm, the taste of the alcohol can be overpowering. Red ports, with their sweet, fruity taste, are best after the meal either on their own or with cheese or desserts.
Rich and Tasty Tawny Ports
Tawny ports include the aged 10, 20, 30 and 40 year olds whose delicious nuttiness and aromas of butterscotch and fine oak wood intensify the longer they spend in wood. Served slightly chilled accompanied with the rich, nutty and fruity characters of an aged cheese – or with a dessert – try an almond tart, pecan pie, crème brûlée. Tawny ports also pair extremelly well with apple crumble pie with some vanilla ice-cream on top.
Vintage Ports mature in bottle and should be decanted to remove the natural sediment (grape matters) deposited by the wine and to allow the aromas developed during ageing. You can simply savour the rich and complex flavours of the wine on it's own or paired with chocolate, chocolate flavoured desserts, dried fruits, specially walnuts, blue (Stelton) cheese and other richly flavoured cheeses.
The Right Port Wine Glass
The Port Wine Institute commissioned the famous Portuguese architect and designer Alvaro Sisa to come up with an Official Port Wine Glass. The result is a glass that captures the vibrant spectrum of colours and intensity of port, highlighting the lagrima or tear of the wine on the sides of the bowl. The stem features a dimple, which leads the hand naturally to rest on the stem.
How to Serve Port
Most port can be poured directly from the original bottle. The exceptions are the ones with sediment in the bottle (Vintage, Crusted, Single Quinta Vintage, LBV Traditional). These should be decanted. Traditionally, port decanter is passed clockwise around the table, from right to left. There are many repeated reasons for this tradition but the one most accepted is very practical. Most people are right handed and it is easier for right handed people to pass the port to the left.
Types of Port