Over the past few days we have had a fair amount of interest in the great wine of Portugal, Port. There is something warming about a nice glass of port on these short dark dreary days.  Now some basic things many people don’t know about port I wasn’t sure of them myself until I began looking it up for this post.

Port is the strongest wine available. It is also the probably the sweetest  non-desert red wine you’ll from Western Europe. The reason port is sweet is also the reason for its high levels of alcohol, the addition of distilled grape spirit. Basically, port is made by picking and fermenting grapes in the standard manner then before the fermentation (changing sugar in grape in to alcohol) is finished the grape spirit is added. This effectively stops yeast fermenting the sugars in the grapes, but increase the alcohol level of the wine. It also means that there is extra sweetness to wine that is produced.

Because of this port makes a great after dinner drink, strong yet sweet. But like every other wine out there port has a confusing labeling system. With words such as LBV, Tawny, Ruby and Vintage bandied about on the labels.  as:

Ruby; is the youngest port style with some maturation in oak casks but none in the bottle. 

Tawny; is a gentler style aged for longer in casks, usually 10, 20, 30 or Over 40 years, which will be stated on the label. Called tawny because of the colour of the wine after the aging process.

Vintage; Vintage port like Champagne is declare in the finest years, on average about 1 in every 3 or so. It is aged for 2 years in casks then decanted unfiltered into bottles where it should age for around a decade at least.

LBV or Late Bottle Vintage; are ports of a higher quality but not quite Vintage quality. They tend to be bottled from casks with in 4 to 6 years of vintage stated on the bottle. The are a great way of educating your palate without splashing