I love ports, so here is a great introduction for you port beginners.
1961: Vintage of the latest release by Taylor Fladgate of Single Harvest Vintage Port. Only 65 cases of this extraordinary 60-year-old Port are available in the U.S. for $395 per bottle. To put the age of this Port into perspective, it was made from a single year’s harvest as the first man in the world went into space, and it has been aging in oak casks ever since. Besides Vintage Ports, Taylor Fladgate also holds some of the most substantial reserves of aging Tawny Ports in the world.
So, let’s define Port for those of you who are either new to Port or unwilling to give it a try. Let’s use Wine Folly as our expert navigators.
Port: This fortified sweet wine is made with a blend of red grapes from the Douro River Valley in Portugal. It’s often enjoyed alongside desserts (especially with chocolate) or, more modernly, served as an aperitif over ice with a simple garnish. Since there’s always a reason to have a bottle of Port on hand, here are several tips to help you enjoy it to the fullest.
Straight: The most sophisticated way to enjoy Port wine is to serve it straight up, or “neat,” in a proper Port glass. Of course, not all Port wines are fine enough to be enjoyed in this manner. Vintage, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) and Tawny Port that is more than a decade old are the styles to look for (with a few special exceptions).
Cocktails: Port cocktails are a simple, fun, and delicious take on this very classic wine. The styles to seek out for cocktails include White, Pink, Ruby, and Tawny Port.
Cooking: Port wine reduction sauce is amazing drizzled over steaks and roasted meats, but it also works well when served ontop of ice cream or used in rich, layered chocolate cake. Although all styles of Port work well for cooking, the most economical option is a Ruby Port, which just so happens to have a long shelf life too.My preference is straight, of course. And while the vintage ports are exquisite, they are pricey. My suggestion is to try something around $20 to$25 the first time, and see how it goes.
Port is a great way to end a meal, with either some dark chocolate, or cheese and almonds. It is best served at room temperature. On hot summer evenings, a little ice might be okay, as long as you don’t tell anyone!
This I did not know, but vintage ports are best served within 5 years of release, or AFTER 20 years of bottle aging. Truth be known, Mr. Mike and I bought several when we were golfing in Portugal, back in 2002. And as of today, they have not been opened, to the best of my knowledge.
Most port wines last for about a month after opening. Even then, it is often too much for one person. My suggestion is to have a Port Party!!
And a local note: Ficklin Vineyards in Madera has several excellent ports. Their Ruby Reserve is only $40, and for a splurge, try the 2010 Vintage Port for $75. They even have a 1957 Vintage Port for $620!!!
I have tried, over the years, to get many of you, my friends, to at least try some port. Once you do, I think you will thank me. In fact, you will wish you tried it much, much sooner.