A Guide to Selecting Port Wine


Nothing feels better than finishing-off a tasty meal with even more tasty glass of Port wine! Many years since its invention, this wine continues to enjoy its popularity among other wines in the market today.

Regardless of its popularity and unique quality, finding a good port wine that both fits your budget and your taste is not always an easy task. But worry no more- below you’re going toe encounter a detailed guide for this wine. It includes a brief history of the wine, its top characteristics and of course the available types of wine from which you can identify the best bottle for you- smile.

Let’s go!

A brief History of Port Wine

The exact origin of this fortified wine is yet to be uncovered. However, a commonly accepted story states that the wine was discovered during the war between the English and French in the 17th century. At this time, the Britons were looking for alternative wines to the French ones which were full-bodied, prompting them to travel to Portugal. In Portugal however, they were disappointed as they didn’t meet their needs. They therefore took the young and heavy Portugal wines and added brandy. And the result? Port was born!

Although other states such as Canada, Untired States and South Africa strive to produce wines similar to Port, none of them can match the quality of part. This is simply because its product is strictly regulated by the wine institute of Portugal (IVP).

Types of Ports

Note that the complexity and hence the quality of each type depend on the grapes used to manufacturer it and the time it takes to mature…

Ruby Port This is the most basic, lest expensive port. It is aged for a period of 2-3 years before being bottled ready for consumption. Ruby, which have a warm taste of sweet and spicy blend, is meant for immediate consumption.

 Tip: Always go for premium rubies since low quality ones are very harsh.
Suggested Bottle: Dow’s Fine Ruby. It’s really smooth plus it comes with a good level of richness.

Tawny Port This port is aged in the wood cask for a relatively long period (3-40 years). A good tawny have amber colour which it inherits from the long aging process. To enjoy a true tawny (commonly referred to as aged tawny), always go for versions ranging from 20 years old as displayed on the bottles.

Something more Tawny ports comes in varieties: Colheita, Crusted and Indicated Age.

If you’re a novice in port wines, you’ll find tawny a cool drink to start with its dry, bears a nutty flavour and it’s readily accessible.

Suggested Bottle: Dow’s Boardroom. It contains a luscious chocolate and cherry flavour!

Late bottled vintage (LBV) Wines age in the cask for longer periods(4-6 years). LBV’s are more complex wines than a Ruby Port. These are high quality but inexpensive and can be consumed straight away in comparison to Vintage port. Some rare ones are unfiltered so these need to be decanted in advance.

Vintage Port And now we’ve the king of all ports- the Vintage Port. This port enjoys its position as the finest and also the most expensive of all ports. What’s more, it accounts for 4-5% of total port production. This port is aged for 2-3 years after which it’s ready for bottling. Once bottled, the wine is aged for another bunch of around 5-50 years- this is really vintage, huh?

Tip: Vintage port packed for consumption isn’t filtered and must therefore be decanted before it’s served.

Suggested Bottle: Graham’s Vintage Port. It’s a great drink characterized by great raisin flavours, fine tannins not forgetting the long and sweet finish!

White Port As its name suggests, this port is made from white variety of grapes. It comes in 2 styles: dry and sweet. White port’s production pattern is similar to that of red port, save for the drier type which is aged for around 10 years.

Suggested Bottle: Lagrima Blanco. It’s full-bodied, with straw colour and an aroma of dried fig, hazelnut, raisin and smoke.

Now you’ve it, the detailed review of port wine. The suggested bottle for each type of port will surely give you the real experience of part wines. Enjoy!

Photo source Fareham Wine

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Kristen May 2, 2015, 9:43 pm

    Awesome article! I love learning about the history of wine. Port sound like the “whiskey” version of wine. You’re description makes it sound like it is for a more mature and refined taste. I enjoy fruity undertones. Are there any port recommendations that you can think of? Thank you!

    • ricktee76 May 12, 2015, 8:58 pm

      Port is highly recommended as dessert wine, served towards the end of a meal, it blends particularly well with chocolate, there is also a non-alcoholic drink which has a ‘port’ taste, named Portillo.

      • BuzzedAldrin May 23, 2015, 9:55 am

        It’s absolutely wonderful with vanilla ice cream, with fudge topping. A few chopped nuts and mint sprigs and you’re going to have a hard time putting the glass and spoon down long enough to catch your breath.

    • BuzzedAldrin May 21, 2015, 2:59 pm

      In my comment below, I suggested Sheffield as a nice affordable bottle to see if you have a taste for port. Port is aged similarly to whiskey, and it does take on similar characteristics. Whiskey can have a slightly chocolatey taste if there’s ample sugars in it, so in my mind it’s the aging process that adds the natural sweet flavors of the wood to the alcohol.

      I’d try a tawny port to start with, as I found them the most palatable to start with. If you can find it, try a ruby port. And if you have no idea what to pair it with, just get a bowl of walnuts. It’ll become your new addiction.

  • BuzzedAldrin May 19, 2015, 7:38 am

    Tawny port is hands down my favorite port wine. As a bourbon drinker, it appeals to my whiskey sensibilities while providing a completely different flavor palette, and as a fan of strong wines it is a glass of sensory exploration that lighter wines like moscato can’t provide.

    In addition, it’s one of the few times I can say with reasonable confidence that the cheaper bottles on the shelf shouldn’t be avoided – one brand I regularly come back to is Sheffield, which is reasonably priced and has a fantastic taste chilled or not.

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