What is Port Wine? History, Taste, & Ingredients (+ Pairing Tips)

Port wineHow can Port wine be described? This wine is fortified, which means that it is produced by putting a percentage of brandy or grape spirit into the wine, during manufacturing. Arguably, Port wine is the best type of fortified wine. Its’ ultimate embodiment, Vintage Port, is one of the most celebrated exports of Burgundy or Bordeaux, and one of the world’s most iconic wines.

As far as Port wine goes, the inclusion of brandy occurs, prior to the point at which the wine finishes fermenting. Consequently, the wine still contains some of the grape’s natural sweetness, which makes it round, rich and smooth to taste.


Flavor of Port Wine

The sheer range of styles is one interesting aspect of Port wine, as each style has its’ own unique flavor. This includes the sweet fruit flavors of the Late Bottled Vintage or Reserve, the Aged Tawny’s sublime mellowness and the Vintage Port’s unparalleled depth. Moreover, there is no other wine that provides as much opportunity for food pairing as Port wine.

It’s known as a sweet and dark red wine but has a normal amount of calories in wine.


How to Serve Port Wine

Historically, Port wine is served near to the conclusion of a meal, as a desert spirit with cheese. It might be served after dinner as well, although several styles, such as white Port, can be used as aperitifs. Also, lots of creative chefs enjoy combining Port with main courses, and this wine is a great wine to drink with a nice cigar or chocolate. Port wine is deemed to be among the most sociable and civilized types of wine, and it can make any sort of event special. This applies whether it is an informal gathering at home, a special celebration with friends or a black tie dinner.


History of Port Wine

Port wine is made in the Douro Valley’s eastern mountainous region. This vineyard area, which is in northern Portugal, ranks among the world’s most picturesque and oldest vineyards. Here, wine has been produced for over twenty centuries. During 1756, the Douro’s Port wine vineyards were the first vineyards on the planet to be officially demarcated. Similar to other excellent traditional wines, Port gets its’ unique character from a combination of soil, climate, wine making technique and grape variety. The Douro Valley’s distinctive terroir and its’ amazing wines can not be duplicated anywhere else.

Primarily, the grapes consist of indigenous varieties, like the Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca and Touriga Nacional. These grow on the sheer rocky hillsides that border the Douro River. Some of the most ancient vineyards, now classed as World Heritage sites, are grown on terraces supported by many dry, hand made stone walls.

The year 1678 is the first year where shipments of Port wine were recorded. While this wine is made inland in the upper Douro Valley’s vineyards, it is named after Oporto, which is the coastal city from where it was historically exported. Up until the twentieth century, special boats called barcos rabelos were used to transport this wine from the vineyards, down the Douro river. Then, the wine was stored in the Port house “lodges”, which border Vila Nova de Gaia’s narrow streets that face Oporto’s old city center. Here it is blended, aged, bottled, then shipped.

Lots of the most renown and oldest producers, like Croft or Taylor’s, are Scottish or English. This is because historically, Britain was the biggest market for Port wine.


Conclusion + Making Your Own Port Wine

Port wine is among Europe’s great traditional wines, and its long time history as a dessert wine is well known. If you’re interested in aging your own port wine at home (which is a great way to make the flavor of it even better!) Then check out our wine aging barrels. You can also browse the rest of our store for all your beverage aging needs!