Port Wine Health Benefits
Throughout its history, port wine was long touted for having a variety of health benefits. One of the leading beliefs was that it was a natural remedy against gout. Indeed, British Prime Minister William Pitt The Younger was given a bottle of gout a day as a treatment since he was 14 years old.
Ironically, alcohol consumption only emboldens gout rather than preventing it!
Nevertheless, moderate consumption of port wine may offer some health benefits. After all, it is derived from red wine, which is often lauded for its positive effects. For instance, it will usually contain sufficient antioxidants to probably encourage help heart and blood circulation.
Is Port Wine Healthier Than Red Wine
Port wine typically has a higher alcohol and sugar content than red wine, so port wine is not healthier than red wine. That being said, Port is enjoyed in smaller quantities and usually in moderation. A little goes a long way when it comes to sipping on Port! However, there are some health benefits that can be found in Port. Like most red wines, Port is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, This is from a polyphenol called resveratrol, which is found in the skin of red grapes. That being said, these benefits only stretch so far when consumed in small amounts.
Your First Bottle Of Port: Ruby Port
Start with a Ruby Port. Ruby Port is on the opposite side of the spectrum from Vintage Port in almost every way, which, for the novice Port appreciator, has more pluses than minuses. Vintage Port, while the undisputed King of Ports, is less enjoyable for everyday imbibing because it has to be treated like fine chinaits fragile, expensive, and only for special occasions. In fact, its so delicate that it has to be consumed within 24-48 hours of opening the bottle.
A worthy Ruby Port, on the other hand, costs around $15 and stays good for a month or longer after uncorking it. Ruby Port is typically a blend of young Ports that have been barrel-aged for about three to five years.
Ruby Port is often filtered , meaning its ready to drink as soon as its bottledno decanting required. This makes Ruby Port perfect for popping open and serving in a small glasses along with fruit, cheese and other desserts.
Most Ruby Port is fruit-forward, making it tasty and accessible, albeit starkly less complex than more expensive Ports. Ruby Port can even be served slightly chilled, on the rocks or in cocktails .
For recommended buys, see this Seattle Times column by Paul Gregutt. He gives some excellent descriptions of his top ruby Ports, but Ill give you the highlights very quickly here:
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What Is Tawny Port
Tawny Port is a light and aromatic fortified wine famous for its nutty flavor and oxidative characteristics. It originated from the colder regions of Douro valley in Northern Portugal.
Most Tawny Ports are a blend of vintage wines, Colheita is an exception.
Tawny Ports are made from grapes grown in the cooler regions of Baixo Corgo and Cima Corgo wine regions.
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How Do I Store Port Wine
Many ports that youll purchase were made with the intention of you drinking them right away. Of course, the main exception is vintage ports that improve with aging. If you see unfiltered written on the bottle or if it has a cork, chances are it is a Port wine that will mature in the bottle.
You can store port wines in a cool and dark environment, always on the side of the bottle. A cellar is an ideal place but anywhere that does not get hot or have fluctuations in temperature will do just fine.
What Are The Styles Of Port
There are six major styles when it comes to Port. The first, ruby, is the least expensive and most produced style of Port. Its stored in stainless steel or concrete tanks, which minimizes contact with oxygen when compared to wood vessels and preserves its ruby-red color. These wines, best enjoyed in their youth, are fined, cold-filtered and bottled.
Two subcategories of ruby Port are reserve and rosé. Reserve ruby Port is considered better quality. Rosé Port, which only entered the market just over a decade ago, is made in a way similar to traditional rosé wine. It has minimal exposure to grape skin, which gives it a pink hue.
Tawny Port is made from wine aged in wooden barrels. The wood contact allows both evaporation and oxidation, which changes the color of the wines. They appear rusty or tawny, rather than bright red. Oxygen also introduces secondary, nutty flavors to these wines.
The highest quality tawny Ports are aged in wood and labeled 10, 20, 30 or over 40 years. The age distinction does not equal how much time the Port has aged. Instead, it denotes the characteristics of the final blend. Single-vintage tawny Ports are known as colheitas.
Garrafeira Port, which is extremely rare and always vintage-designated, is matured in wood, but also spends a minimum of eight years in glass demijohns. The glass aging process creates a distinct aroma and flavor.
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Port Wine Vs Red Wine: Whats The Difference
So, youve heard of Port wine, and at face value youd assume its another variety of sweet red wine. Well, actually, this isnt the case Port wine is completely different. Want to find out what makes this wine variety that is always brought out on the table in Portugal for a celebration so special? Check out our guide below that shows the differences between Port Wine vs Red Wine!
This article contains affiliate links, so if you find a wine you like through our site, well get a small percentage of your purchase. We will always only choose our favorite wines to link to.
A Price Range For Everyone
Port wines are not cheap if compare with some other Portuguese wines, but it is possible to find reasonable prices. For example, once you are in Portugal, search for some small, independent shops. There you can find a real bargain. There are also some great deals at cellar doors when you visit the vineyards, so you can combine travel and really good wine shopping.
Also, it is useful to look at some online shops as sometimes they have great offers too.
If you are not a wine expert and not a Port expert in particular, it is better to visit some big popular shops where youll be able to taste the wine. There, the shop assistants will tell you all the necessary information and provide you with all the most important notes on the wines. Garrafeira do Carmo in Porto is one of the best shops like that.
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How To Serve Port
The way in which you serve a Port wine vs a red wine depends very much on the style you are choosing. Weve already mentioned the Porto Tonico that is made with the drier style of White Port. It acts as a great aperitif to sip on in the sunshine just before a meal.
A Ruby Port is best enjoyed at room temperature, and if you have one, in a Port glass. A typical serving is less than a glass of wine, and is around 3oz , so that you can enjoy sipping on it slowly. Its a great drink to enjoy at the end of an evening or meal. Famous producer Antonia Adelaide Ferreira drunk a glass of Port every night to stay healthy, and lived until the age of 85!
Vintage Ports are the trickiest to serve. Ports that have been sealed with a driven cork are typically intended for an extended period of ageing in the bottle. With some having aged for as long as 100 years, the strength of the cork can deteriorate heavily during this period. Youll normally always have to decant a Vintage Port, which can be a bit of a process. Once youve opened and decanted the wine, leave it for a couple hours before drinking at just below room temperature. Vintage Ports are best enjoyed once opened. The freshness wont last long and it oxidizes quickly in the decanter.
A Tawny Port is best enjoyed when slightly chilled. Unlike Vintage Ports, they dont oxidize quickly once opened, so you can drink it over the course of a week or so. Its best to keep it in the fridge whilst doing so.
Best White Port: Sandeman Apitiv White Port Reserve
Courtesy of Wine.com
Sandemans been making wine since the year 1790. When youve been making wine as long as that, one would assume its because theyve been making wine the right way all along. In this case, Sandemans Apitiv White Port gets its kick from using ever-so-slightly over-ripened grapes which get fermented in steel tanks. The result is a classic port thats both traditional and exceptional.
This bottle is bursting with orange peel, apricot, raisin and balsamic notes. Nutty with a balanced structure and fine acidity, this white port has a smooth and elegant finish.
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How Port Is Changing: Why Its Become A Millennials Drink
Millennials are discovering the world of Port wine.
Port refers to a fortified wine produced in Portugals Douro Valley. It has been in existence since the 15th century, and has been consumed in the United States since the 17th century. The wine comes in a variety of styles, both red and white, and can range from dry to semi-dry to sweet.
Recently I sat down with George Sandeman, the seventh-generation member of his family to be involved with the Port trade and Chairman of the House of Sandeman, to talk about Port, the House of Sandeman and trends in the American Port market. Sandeman is among the largest of the port wine producers and has the distinction of having garnered more medals at major wine competitions than any other port house!
JM: Your family has been involved with fortified wines, not just port but Sherry and Madeira also, for centuries. How about a little history, where did fortified wines come from?
How Red Wine Is Made
The red wine making process is pretty simple. It starts with the harvesting, which in Portugal typically happens in early fall at the end of summer, when the grapes are ripe and have turned into a dark red color. The period in which the skin darkens is called veraison.
Once harvested, red grapes are pressed with juice, skin and seeds. The skin adds the color and tannins to the wine that give it a unique flavor. After pressing, the fermentation process begins. This is when the sugar is converted into alcohol. Whilst all residual sugar is converted to alcohol, the percentage is typically lower in red wine than in Port wine, because the brandy or high alcohol spirit increases the level of alcohol in the Port, despite stopping the fermentation process.
During this process, a buildup of skins at the top of the tank in which the wine is aged forms. This is often mixed into the juice during the course of the fermentation to release carbon dioxide that forms during the process.
Finally, a winemaker may decide to blend their red varieties. This is an important part of the process, because it adds balance and complexity to the wine. Its common in Portugal to find blended red wines as opposed to single varietals or periods of production.
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Chemical Changes And Sensory Development During Port Wine Ageing
3.1.1 Colour development
Colour evolution during ageing by the involvement of anthocyanins in different equilibria and their simultaneous transformation through various concurring chemical reactions to a range of other pigments .
Anthocyanins in aqueous solution, depending on the pH, occur in different forms present in equilibria . At pH < 2, the red flavylium cation is the main structure present . With increasing pH, for values between 3 and 6, after hydration of the flavylium cation, the colourless hemiketal structure is formed, this last being in equilibrium with the pale yellow cis
Best Colheita: 2007 Quinta Das Carvalhas Colheita
Courtesy of Total Wine
The vineyards at Quinta das Carvalhas have a front-row seat at a sharp bend of the famed Douro River where their vines are over a century old. The wood-aging process for their Colheita bottle is minimal, letting the fine fruit hog the spotlight.
Oaky and spicy with intense chocolate and raisin aromas, this wine is smooth, balanced, and comfortably sweet. Rich and mellow toffee is on the palate with red fruits and caramel flavors. The wood-aging shines through after a hearty gulp.
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The World’s Most Famous Fortified Wine
Port is a popular fortified wine from Portugal with a rich history. The sweet wine is served the world over as a digestif and dessert wine and is made using a variety of grapes in two major styles: ruby and tawny. Port can exhibit flavors of caramel, berries, chocolate, and spice and is high in alcohol thanks to the addition of brandy. The name port is derived from the coastal city of Porto, and authentic port is only produced in the Douro Valley.
What Is Port Wine Guide To This Sweet Fortified Wine
Annie is a sommelier and wine educator who has worked with winemakers in North America, Europe, and New Zealand. She also works as a wine consultant for shops and restaurants.
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This sweet, fortified wine from Portugal is the perfect night cap or pairing for your after dinner cheese plate. Port wine comes in many styles, all with their own rich and complex flavor profile. Understanding the nuances of this luscious dessert wine will open a whole new window into the wine world.
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How Port Is Made
There are a handful of styles in which port wines are produced, bottled and labeled. These styles are mostly determined by how the wines are aged. However, the initial steps of vinification are the same for each.
Port wines are fortified, meaning that a neutral distillate is added during the vinification process. Post-harvest, grapes are crushed and fermented like any other wine. However, prior to the completion of fermentation, port producers add a neutral spirit to the wine. This addition of alcohol kills the remaining yeast and leaves residual sugar in the juice. The wines alcohol content is also boosted to about 19% to 20% due to the addition of the distillate.
The neutral spirit in port also acts as a natural preservative, meaning that the wines have a longer shelf life post-opening than do standard wines. No need to rush to finish a bottle simply pop, enjoy a pour and let the bottle hang out in your refrigerator for a few weeks, which is fortunate, since port is often enjoyed just one small glass at a time.
English Merchants Discover Port Wine
Traditional Rabelo Boat
In the following year, English merchants discovered a unique fortified wine in Lamego while seeking new products to ship back to England.
Fortifying wine by adding spirit alcohol to improve its longevity was a relatively common practice. Indeed, it was a technique often used by Dutch traders when importing cognac before it was entirely distilled.
However, the neutral grain spirit was often added after fermentation, which resulted in a strong and dry fortified wine. Meanwhile, abbot of the Lamego monastery instead added sugar while the wine was still fermenting as described above.
Although the 1679 ban was eventually lifted, the Methuen Treaty imposed significantly higher import duties on French wine. Since Portuguese wine was now much cheaper, it further encouraged English merchants to trade port.
As conflicts continued with the French throughout the following decades, taxation on its wines continued to rise until all trade was severed with the War of the Spanish Succession.
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Serving And Storing Suggestions
Since port is a dessert wine, there are few differing serving instructions. Port is best served in a dessert wine glass or something equally as tiny and cute. Being so lusciously rich and high in alcohol, a 3-ounce pour is standard. Port is best served around 60°F . This slightly cooler-than-room temp allows you to taste all the flavors without just getting that hot-alcohol feeling on your palate. Aged ports will need time to breathe, like any other wine. After opening, younger ports should be enjoyed within a couple of weeks. Aged ports can keep for closer to a month. All ports, young and old, will have a slightly longer shelf life by storing them in the refrigerator or an equally cool, dark spot. Keep in mind, that once a bottle is exposed to oxygen and/or heat, the flavor characteristics will start to deteriorate.
Red Wine Food Pairings
For a refreshing, light-bodied red wine such as Pinot Noir, its good to pair with light and refreshing seafood dishes, thanks to its light tannins and crisp finish. Pinot Noir specifically has underlying earthy notes, making it a great pairing for most foods. An exquisite example is Gary Farrells 2019 from Russian River Valley in California.
For wines with a bit more bite, such as a medium-bodied Merlot or Zinfandel, things become a bit more diverse. Think rich cheeses, for example. The rich fruit flavors of these wines offer a great balance against the tartness you might expect from cheeses.
Full-bodied wines are the most complex and hearty of the family. So, with a rich wine, we recommend pairing with a flavorsome meal that balances the complexity youll find in the wine. Take Cabernet Sauvignon as an example of a very serious wine. High tannins and acidity create a very dry wine, so its essential to pair this with a fatty or salty meal. This is where red meats such as steak pair perfectly with wine. In doing so, the firm tannins act as a refreshing palate cleanser after each bite of a heavy meal.
A Wine Wiki favorite: 2019 Grande Sonnerie Cabernet Sauvignon from St. Helena, Napa Valley . Grown on the northern side of the St. Helena hill, Grande Sonneries Sauvignon gives a sweet, dark red wine for aging. If aged, it brings us the closest to non-port porty wine.
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