Port is a fortified red or white wine made with the grape varieties that grow specifically in the Douro River Valley in northern Portugal. Fortified wines are made by adding a proportion of brandy, a grape spirit, to the wine. The addition of the brandy takes place before the wine has finished fermenting. That is why port is sweet. It retains some of the natural sweetness of the grape, making it rich, round and smooth on the palate.
Port wine is produced in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal. In 1776, the Douro Vallyey became the first legally demarcated wine region in the world, preserving its distinctive character to a unique terroir, where climate, soil, grape variety and wine making tradition make one of the finest wines in the world. For the most part, port is aged in the cellars at Vila Nova da Gaia, a city at the mouth of the Douro River, opposite the city of Porto. The taste of port ranges from fruity and sweet to complex and dry.
Port wine is made from traditional Portuguese grape varieties, most of them native to the Douro Valley. These varieties are perfectly adapted to the unique terroir of the Douro Valley and are the source of much of Port’s unique and distinctive character. These varieties are Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela and Tinto Cão. These grape varieties have relatively small thick-skinned berries responsible for the concentrated must (mosto) that makes Port such a unique delicious wine.
Port is usually enjoyed before or after the entrée. A rich blue cheese, such as Stilton, is probably the best-known accompaniment to port wine but it is certainly not the only one. The taste of port combines nicely with dried fruit, nuts - particularly walnuts, chocolate, paté de fois gras, and other foods. Port wine also adds a wonderful flavour as an ingredient in many dishes, both sweet and savoury.
Let's not forget, however, that port wine is very tasty on its own and can be enjoyed at any occasion. It can also be used to make a cool refreshing drink for a warm summer's day called port splash, a blend of half white port, half tonic water, ice and a touch of lemon juice and peel.
Types of Port