OK, so I’ve been posting a lot about port but figured I should do one that just walks you through the some basics. First, to make port you add brandy to stop the fermentation process and “fortify” it (this makes it higher in alcohol and keeps it sweet). There are a bunch of different styles and you kinda have to just taste through them to find which one you like best. I know, this wine tasting stuff is just torture…
- Ruby: Fruity, easy drinking, cheaper and the most popular style. Young, non-vintage, aged in wood for about three years before release. Reserve means it’s aged about six years and will cost a little more.
- Tawny: These taste really toasted and nutty. They’re aged in wooden barrels, where they oxidize and turn different shades of orangey brown. The amount of years they’re aged in wood will be indicated on the label (10, 20, 30, or 40).
- Late Bottled Vintage (LBV): All red and blacks fruits, full-bodied, but not as hefty as Vintage Port. Made from grapes all from one year, but not one of the best years. Aged 4-6 years in wood before bottling and is then ready to drink.
- Vintage: The best quality, made from grapes from a single year. Bottled after about two years, and then should be aged for at least 20 years.
- Last, there are two I’ve dubbed Cocktail Ports: White and Rosé. White Port is made from white grapes, and can be dry or sweet. Rosé port is a basically new style of port making (and because of trademark laws, they have to call it “pink”). It’s made by keeping the juice in contact with red grape skins for just a bit (just like how rosé wine is made). I had numerous awesome cocktails with these on my trip. Beatriz Machado, the wine director at the Yeatman Hotel, served me these awesome little mini cocktails they’ve come up with – SO GOOD!
Scarlet: Tawny port, brandy, pineapple and lemon juice. They garnished it with a cinnamon stick, which added a cool flavor.
Purple: Reserve (ruby) port, Grand Marnier, orange peel and mint
Pink: Pink port, jasmine tea, mint (*I also love the pink just with club soda and a lemon slice)
Pale: Dry white port, club soda, orange peel (*this was my fave! so refreshing – looove white port cocktails!)
More to come from Portugal. Tomorrow: stomping on grapes!