Facts about port
More than 300 years of experience and tradition have made port one of the most famous and appreciated wines in the world – with good reason. Generally, port is full-bodied, powerful and delicate. Port is fortified wine grown in the demarcated Douro region in the northern part of Portugal. The grapes for the ports are crushed by foot in big granite lagars. Foot treading is known as a festive highlight after the harvest.
There are many different types of port. They are all produced by adding neutral and clear Brandy Aguardente (also called distilled grape spirit) to stop fermentation of the wine. In this way the must retains some of the grapes’ natural sugar contents, and the wine becomes naturally sweet.
The alcohol percentage rises and typically ends at around 20%. As totally young all port is dark (except for White Port), full-bodied and aromatic, but by age it develops into very different types of ports depending on the way and period of time the port is aged. Here is a small guide about the most widespread types of port.
- White Port is made from white grapes and might vary from semi dry to dry. 2-3 years of oak ageing in big casks.
- Suitable as aperitif or as ingredient in the long drink Portonic.
- Lágrima is a sweet white port, which is not that widespread.
- Suitable as aperitif or for desserts with fruit.
- Ruby is a blend of young and spicy ports, bottled after approximately 2-3 years of oak ageing in big casks.
- Ruby is ready to be enjoyed when bottled and it is suitable for desserts, strong cheeses or on its own.
- The English word Tawny means brownish and refers to the colour this port gets when it is aged in casks for a longer period of time.
This port is ready to be enjoyed when bottled after 2-3 years of oak ageing.
- Classic Tawny is a blend of ports from different vintages. Suitable as aperitif and for chocolate, fruit and ice desserts.
Tawny with age
- This Tawny is marked with its age on the label; 10 years old, 20 years old, 30 years old or Over 40 years old.
It is bottled when ready to drink. It is the favourite port of the Portuguese people.
- Tawny with age is a blend of port from different vintages, which has been aged for a longer period of time in small oak casks. Suitable for desserts, nut cakes etc.
- Colheita means harvest and thereby only from a single vintage year. This is a Tawny with notification of vintage and can be considered as a Single Harvest Tawny.
- Colheita has to be aged in small oak casks for minimum 7 years, but it is typically aged longer than that – some up to 70 years. Once bottled it will not develop anymore. Colheita is suitable for strong cheeses, chocolate and desserts.
Late bottled Vintage
- Late Bottled Vintage is port from an extraordinary harvest/vintage, bottled after 4-6 years of wood ageing. As the name indicates this is a Vintage-style Port which is bottled late – and the extra wood ageing makes the Late Bottled Vintage Port more soft and accessible (ready to drink) right after bottling compared to a Vintage Port right after bottling.
- Aged in big wood casks. An unfiltered LBV, which is the abbreviation, has many years of ageing potential. LBV is suitable for chocolate desserts, cheeses or on its own.
- Vintage Port is a distinguished port from a specific year, only produced in years with extraordinary harvest.
- Many people consider Vintage Port as the very best within ports. Vintage Port is the type of port with the best ageing potential. It is bottled after 2-3 years of ageing in big oak casks. Vintage Port continues to develop in the bottle and it is most often just getting better and better as the years go by. Unopened it can be kept for decades. Vintage Port is suitable for nuts, cakes, tasteful cheeses or on its own. As young and powerful it is also perfect for a good pepper steak.