….though with all Portugal has to offer, you could certainly spend weeks in this incredible country doing just that! But Porto is also one of the wine capitals of the world, a well-deserved reputation considering it is the only exporter of Port wines. Produced exclusively in the rugged Douro valley of northern Portugal, port is a sweet, fortified wine that is often served with dessert (which only makes it more delicious) or perhaps paired with rich cheese. Typically a red wine, white ports are gaining in popularity as excellent white wines are also produced in Portugal.
Port wines are beloved for their wide variety. Wine enthusiast Henry Vizetelly once colourfully wrote that “there are as many styles of Port wine as shades of ribbon in a haberdasher’s shop.” Indeed, this breadth of choice is part of the fun of experiencing Portugal’s many flavours. From youthful Ruby Port to aged Tawnies and distinguished Vintage Ports – the signature Portuguese drink features incomparable richness, complexities and strong aromas, a long finish -- on both the nose and the palate, and a high level of alcohol content (generally between 19 and 22% by volume). This is because brandy fortifies Port wines before fermentation (unlike other vintages), capturing their fruit nuances and higher sugar and alcohol levels. Port is then pumped into large oak casks for roughly a year and a half of aging before being blended with other Port wines and then either transferred back to casks or over to bottles for further aging. Intense tannins and fruity flavours merge into a bolder velvety flavour, a blend in varying degrees (depending on the style of Port) of raspberry, blackberry, black currants, caramel, chocolate, butterscotch, caramel and nuts.