A Range of Flavors
Port wines are beloved for their wide variety. Wine enthusiast Henry Vizetelly once colorfully 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 flavors. 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).
The Port Process
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 flavors merge into a bolder velvety flavor, a blend in varying degrees (depending on the style of Port) of raspberry, blackberry, black currants, caramel, chocolate, butterscotch, caramel and nuts.
Wood-aged Ports are younger wines, their age sped up by contact with the air. Bottle-aged wines, in contrast, have almost no contact with the air and thus, take many more years to fully evolve. Vintage wines are typically best enjoyed 20-40 years after bottled. With wine, patience is an always-rewarded virtue!
Cheers to that!
Taste the best of Portugal's wine culture with a glass of Port wine during our Enticing Douro and Flavors of Portugal & Spain sailings.