The port wine

by Marta Burgués

There are many styles of port wine, but four are the most important.

  • The white, which can be dry or semisweet.
  • Among the reds, the most common is the ruby, a young wine that owes its name to its color.
  • There is also the tawny, aged in wood for many years (not less than six) where by oxidation becomes a dark amber color.
  • Finally, the vintage, the wine that has given its reputation to Porto, which comes from an exceptional crop, which is bottled young, unfiltered, to maintain all its structure and fruity characteristics.

Not all port wines are drunk at the same temperature. The white should be served cool, both the ruby and the vintage should be consumed at room temperature or slightly cool, between 16 and 18° C, at the same temperature than the reds, and the tawny (old port) is consumed like cognac, heating the glass with your hands to facilitate the release of its aromas.

Both ruby and tawny can be consumed when they are released to the market. The vintage, moreover, the wine with more ability to age in the world, must be preserved for 10-15 years or even more, to reach its fullness.

The gastronomic recommendations listed the white port (not too sweet) as an appetizer, served cold; for the desserts, the tawny; and for pate, cheeses -especially the blues like Roquefort or Gorgonzola-, and game meats, the vintage. The tawny is also suggested instead of cognac with a cigar at the end of dinner, and to accompany nuts. Moreover, the vintage is one of the few wines that get along with chocolate.

The serving of port wine has its peculiarities. A bottle of tawny which has passed a long process of oxidation during its stay in wood, does not need to be totally consumed after opening, and can be kept for a time in good condition. The vintage, however, once uncorked behaves like any other wine, and the contact with air affects it quickly. It is for this reason that tawny bottles can be stored upright in the cellar, while the vintage must be kept horizontally for many years avoiding any contact with oxygen, and they use the best corks from Portugal. The serving of vintage requires a special treatment. Since it is not filtered before bottling, precipitates much coloring matter in the bottle and it is therefore necessary to decant.

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