is a wine word. Like Sherry it is often misunderstood. While Port
is a style of fortified wine, it is not a generic word for the style. Port is
the name of the liqueur or fortified wines produced in a specific delimited
area of the Douro Valley, Portugal, up river from the city of
Port – a Sweet Fortified Wine
is a fortified wine, meaning that a spirit alcohol is added to increase the
alcohol level. In the case of Port, the spirit is added during fermentation,
when the must (grape juice) has reached about 5-6% abv. Port is fortified to
about 20% abv. Because the fortification happens during fermentation Port wines
are naturally sweet, as all the sugar in the must have not been converted to
alcohol. Most Port wines contain circa 110-120g/l residual sugar.
Port can be a white wine (or even pink!), most Port wine is red and is made
from a blend of local varieties. The five most important varieties are:
white port the main grapes are Malvasia
Fina, Rabigato, Codega and Viosinho
principal way of classifying Port is based on how the wine was aged. The
two main categories are called Ruby and Tawny.
Ruby Port - Sometimes
called bottle-matured Port, these wines are bottled early to preserve their
deep, vibrant color and fruit flavors. Examples of Ruby style Ports are:
(Late Bottled Vintage)
Quinta Vintage – from a single estate.
Port – only made in the best years.
best of these Port styles (namely vintage and single vintage Quinta) need to be
laid down to slowly mature in bottle before drinking. Both throw a sediment and
need to be decanted before drinking.
Tawny - As the
name suggests Tawny Ports are tawny in color and matured oxidatively in cask
before being bottled. The casks
are called Pipes that hold 600 liters. Tawny Ports are bottled when they are
ready to drink. The tawny color will vary depending on the number of years aged
in cask. Because of the cask ageing Tawny Ports do not throw a sediment, and
therefore do not need decanting. Examples of Tawny style ports are:
with an indication of age such as 10, 20, 30 or 40 year old.
- Colheitas - a vintage dated tawny Port.
Area of Production
demarcated area for Port production is one of the oldest in the world
dating back to 1757. It covers an area of 617,000 acres of which 96,000 of
which are vineyards. The region is divided into three sub-regions, namely:
Corgo or lower Douro – the most planted sub-region.
Corgo – considered the best vineyards, from where most of the top quality ports
Superior (newer and larger vineyards) – the most remote part.
(Image: Underlying image by Sadovnikova Olga/Shutterstock)