Ports, originally from Portugal, have become ever more popular throughout the world. Many great Ports are now made in California and Australia. The grapes that Port is made from historically were Tinta Francisca, Tinta Ruriz [Tempranillo], Bastardo Tina Cao, Souzau, Mourisco, Torigas Nacional; however, now there are over 85 varieties adding to the wider styles of today's Ports.
Fermentation in the old country was short, but naturally preserving natural grape sugars from any metabolization by the yeast. Even today in Portugal many Ports are juiced the old way - by stomping in a vat with human feet! California varieties are mechanized from start to finish - no human feet. Also, in the old country when Ports are ready to be drank a priest would bless the Port and then a three-  day festival would occur with music and dancing into each night.
What exactly does the different Port names entail?
TAWNY PORT: Spends most of its life in a barrel causing the pigments to oxidize taking on a hue of oak. Produces an onion skin color or the word TAWNY. Must be aged a minimum 6 years and bottling date on the label. It can only be bottled in increments of 10 years. Great taste of dried fruits and nuts in the aroma and a little less sweetness.
COLHEITA PORT: A tawny port from a single vineyard. Must be aged minimum 7 years and up to 50 years.
VINTAGE PORT: made only from the best grapes from the best vineyards. Must be bottled only between July 1st of the 2nd year and July 31st of the 3rd year after harvest. Naturally, it is more expensive. Sweet, fruity and nutty with aroma very pleasing to the nose.
LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT: A single vineyard Vintage Port bottled between July 1st of the 4th year and December 31st of the 6th year following harvest.
CRUSTED PORT: A blend of vintages, usually bottled early [3 to 4 years].
RUBY PORT: shows off its youth rather than maturity. Generally aged in stainless steel or seasoned [older] barrels for 2 to 3 years. The lower tannin in the wine will make them more friendly with fruit and cheese. Sweeter than other Ports, although all Ports are considered sweet.
Ready to try a Port? Those who do frequently keep a stock in their best wine cabinets for "personal" enjoyment. Women who want to try a red, but do not like the boldness of a red wine should try a Port. My loving wife LOVES a good port!
The Perfect Pour
Author: Tom Mason
Owner of Kirk's Korner in York, Nebraska, Tom is well-educated when it comes to Spirits, Fine Wines and Beers & Microbrews. The Perfect Pour provides a space for you to explore the ins and outs of your favorite adult beverages. Have comments? Please comment or contact us so we can chat more!