Port is a fortified wine produced in the Douro region ofPortugal. Wines are fortified when a neutral grape spirit or brandy is added during the fermentation process. This stops fermentation and leaves sugar making the wine sweet but with more alcohol. These properties can make some types of Port some of the most age-worthy wines in the world.
There are several distinct styles of port;
This is non-traditional port made with white grapes. It is available as a sweet or a dry and is intended to be slightly chilled at time of consumption. This is typically used as an apertif.
This is a basic blended port that spends time in oak to soften it for consumption. Many cheaper brands produce a tawny which is created by adding a small amount ofWhitePortto aPaleRedPortand then bottling it. Many connoisseurs consider a trueTawnyPortas a blended port which has an extended aging period in wood prior to bottling. It is during this aging period that it takes on the ‘tawny’ coloration. The aging can be anywhere from three to 40 years.
This is the standard red port. It is the cheapest and most readily available style. It is a blend of several harvests and is aged up to three years before bottling. This port is typically aged in concrete or stainless steel containers using the reductive process.
This port wine is the top-of-the-line port. It is from a single harvest and aged in barrel for two to three years. The wine is then bottled unfiltered and laid down to age in the bottle. After aging in the bottle for several years the port begins to develop a complex, layered flavor.
Vintage Port is only made when the harvest is considered exceptional, and only about 1% of all Ports are worthy of the vintage label. The vintage label is only allowed on a bottle after the batch is approved by the Instituto do Vinho doPorto. Nothing else is a true vintage. Even though Vintage port is offered for sale earlier, it should not be consumed younger than 15 years. It takes time for aVintagePortto fully mature and blend the flavors.