Port wine
Overview
 
Port wine is a Portuguese
Portuguese wine
Portuguese wine is the result of traditions introduced to the region by ancient civilizations, such as the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and mostly the Romans. Portugal started to export its wines to Rome during the Roman Empire. Modern exports developed with trade to England after the...

 fortified wine
Fortified wine
Fortified wine is wine to which a distilled beverage has been added. Fortified wine is distinguished from spirits made from wine in that spirits are produced by means of distillation, while fortified wine is simply wine that has had a spirit added to it...

 produced exclusively in the Douro Valley
Douro
The Douro or Duero is one of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, flowing from its source near Duruelo de la Sierra in Soria Province across northern-central Spain and Portugal to its outlet at Porto...

 in the northern provinces of Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine
Dessert wine
Dessert wines are sweet wines typically served with dessert.There is no simple definition of a dessert wine. In the UK, a dessert wine is considered to be any sweet wine drunk with a meal, as opposed to the white fortified wines drunk before the meal, and the red fortified wines drunk after it...

, and comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside Portugal, most notably in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Under European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 Protected Designation of Origin
Protected designation of origin
Protected Geographical Status is a legal framework defined in European Union law to protect the names of regional foods. Protected Designation of Origin , Protected Geographical Indication and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed are distinct regimes of geographical indications within the framework...

 guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labelled as port or Porto.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Port wine is a Portuguese
Portuguese wine
Portuguese wine is the result of traditions introduced to the region by ancient civilizations, such as the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and mostly the Romans. Portugal started to export its wines to Rome during the Roman Empire. Modern exports developed with trade to England after the...

 fortified wine
Fortified wine
Fortified wine is wine to which a distilled beverage has been added. Fortified wine is distinguished from spirits made from wine in that spirits are produced by means of distillation, while fortified wine is simply wine that has had a spirit added to it...

 produced exclusively in the Douro Valley
Douro
The Douro or Duero is one of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, flowing from its source near Duruelo de la Sierra in Soria Province across northern-central Spain and Portugal to its outlet at Porto...

 in the northern provinces of Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine
Dessert wine
Dessert wines are sweet wines typically served with dessert.There is no simple definition of a dessert wine. In the UK, a dessert wine is considered to be any sweet wine drunk with a meal, as opposed to the white fortified wines drunk before the meal, and the red fortified wines drunk after it...

, and comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside Portugal, most notably in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Under European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 Protected Designation of Origin
Protected designation of origin
Protected Geographical Status is a legal framework defined in European Union law to protect the names of regional foods. Protected Designation of Origin , Protected Geographical Indication and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed are distinct regimes of geographical indications within the framework...

 guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labelled as port or Porto. In the United States, wines labelled "port" may come from anywhere in the world, while the names "Dão", "Oporto", "Porto", and "Vinho do Porto" have been recognized as foreign, non-generic names for wines originating in Portugal.

Port is produced from grapes grown and processed in the demarcated Douro region. The wine produced is then fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit
Mutage
- Typical mechanism :The typical process involves the addition of alcohol to the must so that the fermentation process is prematurely stopped. Most yeast dies when the alcohol content in their environment is raised to approximately 13-15%. By stopping the fermentation of sugars, a sweet taste of...

 known as aguardente in order to stop the fermentation
Fermentation (wine)
The process of fermentation in wine turns grape juice into an alcoholic beverage. During fermentation, yeast interact with sugars in the juice to create ethanol, commonly known as ethyl alcohol, and carbon dioxide...

, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

. The fortification spirit is sometimes referred to as brandy
Brandy
Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink...

 but it bears little resemblance to commercial brandies. The wine is then stored and aged
Aging of wine
The aging of wine, and its ability to potentially improve wine quality, distinguishes wine from most other consumable goods. While wine is perishable and capable of deteriorating, complex chemical reactions involving a wine's sugars, acids and phenolic compounds can alter the aroma, color,...

, often in barrel
Barrel
A barrel or cask is a hollow cylindrical container, traditionally made of vertical wooden staves and bound by wooden or metal hoops. Traditionally, the barrel was a standard size of measure referring to a set capacity or weight of a given commodity. A small barrel is called a keg.For example, a...

s stored in a cave as is the case in Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia, or simply Gaia is a city in Vila Nova de Gaia Municipality, Portugal. It is located in the Porto District, south of the city of Porto on the other side of the Douro River. The city proper has a population of 178,255 and the municipality contains 24 parishes with a total...

, before being bottled. The wine received its name, "port", in the latter half of the 17th century from the seaport city of Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

 at the mouth of the Douro River, where much of the product was brought to market or for export to other countries in Europe. The Douro valley where port wine is produced was defined and established as a protected region, or appellation
Appellation
An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown; other types of food often have appellations as well...

 in 1756, making it the oldest defined and protected wine region
Appellation
An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown; other types of food often have appellations as well...

 in the world. Chianti
Chianti
Chianti is a red Italian wine produced in Tuscany. It was historically associated with a squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called a fiasco ; however, the fiasco is only used by a few makers of the wine now; most Chianti is now bottled in more standard shaped wine bottles...

 (1716) and Tokaj
Tokaji
Tokaji is the name of the wines from the region of Tokaj-Hegyalja in Hungary and Slovakia. The name Tokaji is used for labeling wines from this wine district. This region is noted for its sweet wines made from grapes affected by noble rot, a style of wine which has a long history in this region...

 (1730) have older demarcation but no regulation associated and thus, in terms of regulated demarcated regions, Porto is the oldest.

The Douro River Valley: growth and production

The reaches of the valley of the Douro
Douro
The Douro or Duero is one of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, flowing from its source near Duruelo de la Sierra in Soria Province across northern-central Spain and Portugal to its outlet at Porto...

 River in northern Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 have a microclimate that is optimal for cultivation
Horticulture
Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic...

 of olive
Olive
The olive , Olea europaea), is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin as well as northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea.Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the...

s, almond
Almond
The almond , is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree...

s, and especially grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s important for making port wine. The region around Pinhão and São João da Pesqueira
São João da Pesqueira
São João da Pesqueira is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 266.1 km² and a total population of 8,367 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 14 parishes and is located in the district Viseu....

 is considered to be the centre of port production, and is known for its picturesque quintas—farms clinging on to almost vertical slopes dropping down to the river.

Wine regions

The demarcation of the Douro River Valley includes a broad swath of land of pre-Cambrian
Cambrian
The Cambrian is the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, lasting from Mya ; it is succeeded by the Ordovician. Its subdivisions, and indeed its base, are somewhat in flux. The period was established by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name for Wales, where Britain's...

 schist
Schist
The schists constitute a group of medium-grade metamorphic rocks, chiefly notable for the preponderance of lamellar minerals such as micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, graphite, and others. Quartz often occurs in drawn-out grains to such an extent that a particular form called quartz schist is...

 and granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

. Beginning around the village of Barqueiros
Barqueiros
Barqueiros is a Portuguese parish, located in the municipality of Barcelos. It has a population of 2,033 inhabitants and a total area of 8.54 km²....

 (located about 40 miles (about 70 km) upstream from Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

), the valley extends eastward nearly to the Spanish border. The region is protected from the influences of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 by the Serra do Marão mountains. The area is sub-divided into 3 official zones-the Baixo (lower) Corgo, the Cima (higher) Corgo and the Douro Superior.
  • Baixo Corgo - The westernmost zone located downstream from the river Corgo, centered on the municipality of Peso da Régua
    Peso da Régua
    Peso da Régua , commonly known as Régua, is a municipality in northern Portugal, in the district of Vila Real. With a total area of , extended over 12 parishes, its population included 17,987 inhabitants .-History:Peso da Régua was inhabited by Roman and barbarian invasions during the early part of...

    . This region is the wettest port production zone, receiving an average of 900 mm, and has the coolest average temperature of the three zones. The grapes grown here are used mainly for the production of inexpensive ruby and tawny ports.
  • Cima Corgo - Located further upstream from the Baixo Corgo, this region is centered on the town of Pinhão (municipality of Alijó
    Alijó
    Alijó is a municipality in the Norte Region of Portugal, located in the district of Vila Real. The municipality, comprising 19 parishes, has a total area of 267.6 km² and a population of 13,942 inhabitants .-History:There are several megalithic structures, dolmens and castros in Alijó...

    ). The summertime average temperature of the regions are a few degrees higher and rainfall is about 200 mm less. The grapes grown in this zone are considered of higher quality, being used in bottlings of vintage and Late Bottled Vintage Ports.
  • Douro Superior - The easternmost zone extending nearly to the Spanish border. This is the least cultivated region of Douro, due in part to the difficulties of navigating the river past the rapids of Cachão da Valeira. This is the most arid and warmest region of the Douro. The overall terrain is relatively flat with the potential for mechanization.

Grapes

Over a hundred varieties of grapes (castas) are sanctioned for port production, although only five (Tinta Barroca
Tinta Barroca
Tinta Barroca is a Portuguese red wine grape that is grown primarily in the Douro region with some plantings in South Africa. In Portugal, it is a common blending grape in Port wine while in South Africa it is normally made into a varietal...

, Tinta Cão
Tinta Cão
Tinta Cão is a red Portuguese wine grape variety that has been grown primarily in the Douro region since the sixteenth century. The vine produces very low yields which has led it close to extinction despite the high quality of wine that it can produce. Improvements in bilateral cordon training and...

, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo
Tempranillo
Tempranillo is a variety of black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. It is the main grape used in Rioja, and is often referred to as Spain's "noble grape". Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish temprano , a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks...

), Touriga Francesa
Touriga Francesa
Touriga Franca is one of the major grape varieties used to produce port wine. Touriga Franca is lighter and more perfumed than Touriga Nacional, adding finesse to the wine. Touriga Franca has been described by Jancis Robinson as playing "Cabernet Franc to Touriga Nacional’s Cabernet Sauvignon"...

, and Touriga Nacional
Touriga Nacional
Touriga Nacional is a variety of red wine grape, considered by many to be Portugal's finest. Despite the low yields from its small grapes, it plays a big part in the blends used for ports, and is increasingly being used for table wine in the Douro and Dão. Touriga Nacional provides structure and...

) are widely cultivated and used. Touriga Nacional
Touriga Nacional
Touriga Nacional is a variety of red wine grape, considered by many to be Portugal's finest. Despite the low yields from its small grapes, it plays a big part in the blends used for ports, and is increasingly being used for table wine in the Douro and Dão. Touriga Nacional provides structure and...

 is widely considered the most desirable port grape but the difficulty in growing it and the small yields cause Touriga Francesa to be the most widely planted grape. White ports are produced the same way as red ports, except that they use white grapes— Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho. While a few shippers have experimented with Ports produced from a single variety of grapes, all Ports commercially available are from a blend of different grapes. Since the Phylloxera
Phylloxera
Grape phylloxera ; originally described in France as Phylloxera vastatrix; equated to the previously described Daktulosphaira vitifoliae, Phylloxera vitifoliae; commonly just called phylloxera is a pest of commercial grapevines worldwide, originally native to eastern North America...

 crisis
Great French Wine Blight
The Great French Wine Blight was a severe blight of the mid-19th century that destroyed many of the vineyards in France and laid to waste the wine industry...

, most vines are grown on grafted
Grafting
Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another so that the two sets of vascular tissues may join together. This vascular joining is called inosculation...

 rootstock, with the notable exception of the Nacional area of Quinta do Noval, which, since being planted in 1925, has produced some of the most expensive vintage ports.

Grapes grown for port are generally characterised by their small, dense fruit which produce concentrated and long-lasting flavours, suitable for long aging. While the grapes used to produce port produced in Portugal are strictly regulated by the Instituto do Vinho do Porto, wines from outside this region which describe themselves as port may be made from other varieties.

Transport

While port is produced from grapes grown in the Douro valley, until 1986 it could only be exported from Portugal from Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia, or simply Gaia is a city in Vila Nova de Gaia Municipality, Portugal. It is located in the Porto District, south of the city of Porto on the other side of the Douro River. The city proper has a population of 178,255 and the municipality contains 24 parishes with a total...

 near Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

, Portugal's second-largest city. Traditionally, the wine was taken downriver in flat-bottom boats called barcos rabelos, to be processed and stored. However, in the 1950s and 1960s, several hydroelectric power dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s were built along the river, ending this traditional conveyance down the river. Currently, the wine is transported from the vineyards by tanker trucks and the barcos rabelos are only used for racing and other displays.

Properties

Port wine is typically richer, sweeter, heavier, and possesses a higher alcohol content than most other wines. This is caused by the addition of distilled grape spirits (aguardente similar to brandy
Brandy
Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink...

) to fortify the wine and halt fermentation before all the sugar is converted to alcohol and results in a wine that is usually either 19.5% or 20% alcohol.

Port is commonly served after meals as a dessert wine
Dessert wine
Dessert wines are sweet wines typically served with dessert.There is no simple definition of a dessert wine. In the UK, a dessert wine is considered to be any sweet wine drunk with a meal, as opposed to the white fortified wines drunk before the meal, and the red fortified wines drunk after it...

, often with cheese; commonly stilton
Stilton (cheese)
Stilton is a type of English cheese, known for its characteristic strong smell and taste. It is produced in two varieties: the well-known blue and the lesser-known white. Both have been granted the status of a protected designation of origin by the European Commission, together one of only...

. White and tawny ports are often served as an apéritif
Aperitif
Apéritifs and digestifs are alcoholic drinks that are normally served with meals.-Apéritifs:An apéritif is usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. This contrasts with digestifs, which are served after a meal for the purpose of aiding digestion...

.

Styles

Port from Portugal comes in several styles, which can be divided into two broad categories:
  • Wines that have matured in sealed glass bottles, with no exposure to air, and experience what is known as "reductive" aging. This process leads to the wine losing its colour very slowly and produces a wine which is smoother on the palate and less tannic.
  • Wines that have matured in wooden barrels, whose permeability allows a small amount of exposure to oxygen, and experience what is known as "oxidative" aging. They too lose colour, but at a faster pace. They also lose volume to evaporation (angel's share), leaving behind a wine that is slightly more viscous.


The IVDP (Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto) further divides port into two categories: normal ports (standard rubies, tawnies and white ports) and Categorias Especiais, special categories, which includes everything else.

Tawny port

Tawny ports are wines, made from red grapes, that are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. As a result, they gradually mellow to a golden-brown colour. The exposure to oxygen imparts "nutty" flavours to the wine, which is blended to match the house style.

Tawny ports are sweet or medium dry and typically consumed as a dessert wine.

When a port is described as tawny, without an indication of age, it is a basic blend of wood aged port that has spent at least two years in barrels. Above this are tawny with an indication of age which represent a blend of several vintages, with the nominal years "in wood" stated on the label. The official categories are 10, 20, 30 and over 40 years. The categories indicate a target age profile for the ports, not their actual ages, though many people mistakenly believe that the categories indicate the minimum average ages of the blends. It is also possible to produce an aged white port in the manner of a tawny, with a number of shippers now marketing aged white ports.

Colheita

A tawny port from a single vintage is called Colheitas. Instead of an indication of age (10, 20...) the actual vintage year is mentioned. However, they should not be confused with vintage port (see below): whereas a vintage port will have been bottled about 18 months after being harvested and will continue to mature, a Colheita may have spent 20 or more years in wooden barrels before being bottled and sold. A number of white Colheitas have also been produced.

Garrafeira

Garrafeira is an unusual and rare intermediate vintage dated style of port made from the grapes of a single harvest that combines the oxidative maturation of years in wood with further reductive maturation in large glass demijohns. It is required by the IVDP that wines spend some time in wood, usually between three and six years, followed by at least a further eight years in glass, before bottling. In practice the times spent in glass are much longer. The style is most closely associated with the company Niepoort, although others do exist. Their dark green demijohns, affectionately known as bon-bons, hold approximately 11 litres each. Some connoisseurs describe Garrafeira as having a slight taste of bacon, although many people will neither notice nor understand such a description; the reason being that, during the second phase of maturation, certain oils may precipitate, causing a film to form across the surface of the glass that can be tasted by those who are accustomed to the difference between Garrafeira and other forms of port.

Confusingly, the word Garrafeira may also be found on some very old tawny labels, where the contents of the bottle are of exceptional age.

Ruby port

Ruby port is the cheapest and most extensively produced type of port. After fermentation, it is stored in tanks made of concrete or stainless steel
Stainless steel
In metallurgy, stainless steel, also known as inox steel or inox from French "inoxydable", is defined as a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5 or 11% chromium content by mass....

 to prevent oxidative aging and preserve its rich claret color. The wine is usually blended to match the style of the brand to which it is to be sold. The wine is fined and cold filtered before bottling and does not generally improve with age.

Reserve or vintage character

Reserve port is a premium ruby port approved by the IVDP's tasting panel, the Câmara de Provadores. In 2002 the IVDP prohibited the use of the term "Vintage Character", as the wine had neither a single vintage (usually being a blend of several vintages of ruby port) nor the typical character of vintage port.

Rose port

Rose port is a very recent variation on the market, first released in 2008 by Pocas and by Croft
Croft
Croft may refer to: * Croft, an area of land with a crofter's dwelling, used for crofting .* Bleachfield, an open space used for the bleaching of fabric, sometimes called crofts.Locations in the United Kingdom:...

, part of the Taylor Fladgate Partnership. It is technically a ruby port, but fermented in a similar manner to a rosé wine, with a limited exposure to the grape skins, thus creating the rose colour. It has enjoyed little critical acclaim.

White port

White port is made from white grapes and can be made in a wide variety of styles, although until recently few shippers have produced anything other than a standard product. Ordinary white ports make an excellent basis for a cocktail while those of greater age are best served chilled on their own. There are a range of styles of white port, from dry to very sweet. When white ports are matured in wood for long periods, the colour darkens, eventually reaching a point where it can be hard to discern (from appearance alone) whether the original wine was red or white.

Late bottled vintage (LBV)

Late bottled vintage (often referred to simply as LBV) was originally wine that had been destined for bottling as vintage port, but because of lack of demand was left in the barrel for longer than had been planned. Over time it has become two distinct styles of wine, both of them bottled between four and six years after the vintage, but one style is fined and filtered before bottling, while the other is not.

The filtered wine has the advantage of being ready to drink without decanting
Decanter
A decanter is a vessel that is used to hold the decantation of a liquid which may contain sediment. Decanters are normally used as serving vessels for wine. Decanters vary in shape and design. They are usually made of an inert material and will hold at least one standard bottle of wine...

 and is usually bottled in a stoppered bottle that can be easily resealed. However many wine experts feel that this convenience comes at a price and believe that the filtration process strips out much of the character of the wine.

The accidental origin of late bottled vintage has led to more than one company claiming its invention. The earliest known reference to a style of port with this name in a merchant's list is to be found in The Wine Society's catalogue from the spring of 1964; which includes Fonseca's Quinta Milieu 1958, bottled in the UK, also in 1964.

Unfiltered wines are mostly bottled with conventional driven corks and need to be decanted. After decanting they should be consumed within a few days. Recent bottlings are identified by the label wording "unfiltered" or "bottle matured" or both. Before the 2002 regulations, this style was often marketed as '"traditional", a description that is no longer permitted.

LBV is intended to provide some of the experience of drinking a vintage port but without the need for lengthy bottle aging. To a limited extent it succeeds, as the extra years of oxidative aging in barrel does mature the wine more quickly.

Typically ready to drink when released, LBV ports are the product of a single year's harvest and tend to be lighter bodied than a vintage port. Filtered LBVs can improve with age, but only to a limited degree; whereas the unfiltered wines will usually be improved by extra years in the bottle. Since 2002, bottles that carry the words "bottle matured" must have enjoyed at least three years of bottle maturation before release.

Crusted

Crusted port is usually a blend of port wine from several vintages, although single vintage crusted ports have sometimes been made in the past. Unlike vintage port, which has to be sourced from grapes from a single vintage, crusted port affords the port blender the opportunity to make best use of the varying characteristics of different vintages.

Crusted port is bottled unfiltered, and sealed with a driven cork. Like vintage port it needs to be decanted before drinking.

Although crusted ports will improve with age, the blender often seeks to make these wines approachable at a younger age than for his vintage ports. The date on a crusted port bottle refers to the bottling date, not the year the grapes were grown.

While crusted port is required to be aged in bottle for at least three years before it is released to the market, most producers keep the bottles for considerably longer; so they are ready to be drunk when sold, and may be enjoyed by consumers who have no space to cellar bottles. This makes crusted port a popular and affordable alternative to vintage port.

Vintage port

Vintage port is made entirely from the grapes of a declared vintage year and accounts for about two percent of overall port production. Not every year is declared a vintage in the Douro. The decision on whether to declare a vintage is made in the spring of the second year following the harvest. The decision to declare a vintage is made by each individual port house, often referred to as a "shipper".

The port industry is one where reputations are hard won and easily lost, so the decision is never taken lightly. During periods of recession and war, potential "declarations" have sometimes been missed for economic reasons. In recent years, some shippers have adopted the "chateau" principle for declarations, declaring all but the worst years. More conventional shippers will declare, on average, about three times a decade.

While it is by far the most renowned type of port, from a volume and revenue standpoint, vintage port actually makes up only a small percentage of the production of most shippers. Vintage ports are aged in barrels for a maximum of two and a half years before bottling, and generally require another ten to forty years of aging in the bottle before reaching what is considered a proper drinking age. Since they are aged in barrels for only a short time, they retain their dark ruby colour and fresh fruit flavours. Particularly fine vintage ports can continue to gain complexity and drink wonderfully for many decades after they were bottled. It is not unknown for 19th century bottles to still be in perfect condition for consumption.

Single quinta vintage port

Single quinta vintage ports are wines that originate from a single estate, unlike the standard bottlings of the port wine houses which can be sourced from a number of quintas. Single quinta bottlings are used in two different ways by different producers. Most of the large port wine houses have a single quinta bottling which is only produced in some years when the regular vintage port of the house is not declared. In those years, wine from their best quinta is still bottled under a vintage designation, rather than being used for simpler port qualities. In a sense, this kind of single quinta is a "second wine
Second wine
Second wine is a term commonly associated with Bordeaux wine to refer to a second label wine made from cuvee not selected for use in the Grand vin or first label...

" of the regular vintage port and is typically sold slightly cheaper than the regular vintage Port. Graham's Quinta dos Malvedos and Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas are examples of this kind of port. Typically, this type of single quinta bears the name of both a major port wine house and the name of a quinta.

In recent times, there has also been an increase in the production and marketing of single quinta vintage port as high-end wines. Vintage port from small producers situated in the Douro valley are almost always single quinta wines and labelled as such. Some of the larger port wine houses also have introduced single quintas which are run as separate estates, rather than as a source of wine for the house's main bottling. Symington Family Estates
Symington Family Estates
Symington Family Estates is a wine company and Port wine house in Portugal, which owns and operates several vineyards and wineries and owns several brands of Port, Madeira wine and Douro DOC wines, including some of the oldest and most well-known Port and Madeira brands...

' Quinta do Vesuvio is an example of this. Typically, this type of single quinta only bears the name of its quinta.

Much of the complex character of aged vintage port comes from the continued slow decomposition of grape solids in each bottle. However, these solids are undesirable when port is consumed, and thus vintage port typically requires a period of settling before decanting and pouring.

Vintage port should not be confused with "late bottled vintage" (see above).

Vintages

The term vintage
Vintage
Vintage, in wine-making, is the process of picking grapes and creating the finished product . A vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily, grown and harvested in a single specified year. In certain wines, it can denote quality, as in Port wine, where Port houses make and...

 has a distinct meaning in the context of vintage port. While a vintage is simply the year in which a wine is made, most producers of vintage port restrict their production of year-labeled bottlings to only the best years, a few per decade.

If a port house decides that its wine is of quality sufficient for a vintage, samples are sent to the IVDP for approval and the house declares the vintage. In very good years, almost all the port houses will declare their wines.

In intermediate years, the producers of blended vintage ports will not declare their flagship port, but may decide to declare the vintage of a single quinta, e.g. the 1996 Dow's Quinta do Bomfim and Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas. Some houses now choose to declare their wines on all but the worst years: Quinta do Vesuvio has declared a vintage every year with the exceptions of 1993 and 2002.

Improved wine making technologies and better weather forecasts during the harvest have increased the number of years in which a vintage can be declared. Although there have been years when only one or two wines have been declared, it is over thirty years since there was a year with no declarations at all.

History and tradition

Established in 1756, the port wine producing Douro region is the third oldest protected wine region
Appellation
An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown; other types of food often have appellations as well...

 in the world after the Tokaj-Hegyalja
Tokaj-Hegyalja
Tokaj-Hegyalja is a historical wine region located in southeastern Slovakia and northeastern Hungary. Hegyalja means "foothills" in Hungarian, and this was the original name of the region....

 region in Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, established in 1730, and Chianti
Chianti
Chianti is a red Italian wine produced in Tuscany. It was historically associated with a squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called a fiasco ; however, the fiasco is only used by a few makers of the wine now; most Chianti is now bottled in more standard shaped wine bottles...

, in 1716.

In 1756, during the rule of the Marquês de Pombal, the Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro (C.G.A.V.A.D., also known as the General Company of Viticulture of the Upper Douro or Douro Wine Company
Douro Wine Company
The Douro Wine Company was a government oversight organization established by the Portuguese Prime Minister Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal to regulate the trade and production of Port wine...

), was founded to guarantee the quality of the product and fair pricing to the end consumer. The C.G.A.V.A.D. was also in charge of regulating which port wine would be for export or internal consumption and managing the protected geographic indication.

Port became very popular in England after the Methuen Treaty
Methuen Treaty
The Methuen Treaty was an offensive military and commercial treaty between Portugal and England signed in 1703 as part of the War of the Spanish Succession....

 of 1703, when merchants were permitted to import it at a low duty, while war with France deprived English wine drinkers of French wine
French wine
French wine is produced in several regions throughout France, in quantities between 50 and 60 million hectolitres per year, or 7–8 billion bottles. France has the world's second-largest total vineyard area, behind Spain, and is in the position of being the world's largest wine producer...

. The long trip to England often resulted in spoiled wine; the fortification of the wine was introduced to improve the shipping and shelf-life of the wine for its journey.

The continued English involvement in the port trade can be seen in the names of many port shippers: Cockburn, Croft, Dow, Gould, Graham, Osborne, Offley, Sandeman, Taylor and Warre being amongst the best known. Shippers of Dutch and German origin are also prominent, such as Niepoort and Burmester. The British involvement grew so strong that they formed a trade association that became a gentlemen's club
Factory House
The Factory House is an 18th century Palladian building located in the Portuguese wine center of Oporto, Portugal. Constructed in 1790 by the British Port wine shippers, the building served as a gentleman's club and meeting place for the trade organization known as the British Association...

.

In the UK, the military (British Army, RAF and Royal Navy) use port as a wine to toast the Queen with at formal dinners.

Storing and serving

Port, like other wine, should be stored in a cool but not cold, dark location (as light can damage the port), with a steady temperature (such as a cellar), laying the bottle on its side if the bottle has a cork, or standing up if stoppered.
With the exception of white port, which can be served chilled, port should be served at between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

 (59 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit is the temperature scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit . Within this scale, the freezing of water into ice is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees...

). Tawny port may also be served slightly cooler.

Once opened, port generally lasts longer than unfortified wine but is still best if consumed within a short period of time. Those with stoppers can be kept for a couple of months in a dark place, but if it has a cork it must be consumed sooner. Typically, the older the vintage, the quicker it must be consumed.

Exposure to oxygen (or oxidation) causes wine to deteriorate after opening. Therefore the longer a port spent in barrels (where it is exposed to air), the longer it will last after opening. A tawny port has already incorporated oxidation into its flavor profile so it will last much longer than a vintage port. This suggests that tawny and ruby ports last the longest after opening, followed by LBVs, with vintage ports deteriorating the quickest.

Port wines that are unfiltered (such as vintage ports, crusted ports and some LBVs), form a sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 (or crust) in the bottle and require decanting
Decanter
A decanter is a vessel that is used to hold the decantation of a liquid which may contain sediment. Decanters are normally used as serving vessels for wine. Decanters vary in shape and design. They are usually made of an inert material and will hold at least one standard bottle of wine...

. This process also allows the port to breathe; however, how long before serving is dependent on the age of the port (particularly in the case of vintage ports, which, once decanted, are recommended to be consumed within 3–4 days).

Tradition in the United Kingdom calls for port being served at a formal dinner to be passed to the left and the bottle must not touch the table on its way around. This tradition is not agreed with by all however.

Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto

The Port and Douro Wines Institute is an official body belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Agriculture
An agriculture ministry or department of agriculture is a ministry or other government agency charged with agriculture. The ministry is often headed by a minister for agriculture....

 of Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 and is a key institution in promoting the industry and knowledge of making port wine. It was previously known as the Instituto do Vinho do Porto.

Port houses

Producers of port wine are often called "shippers". In the early history of the port wine trade, many of the most powerful shipping families were English. Over the years Portuguese, as well as Dutch, German and Scottish-owned shippers have also become prevalent in the port industry.

A list of some notable shippers and the business groups that own them include:
  • The AXA Millésimes group - owned Quinta do Noval
  • Churchill's
  • Niepoort
  • Quevedo
  • Quinta do Infantado, Gontelho (Chanceleiros, Pinhão) owned by Roseira family, first estate bottled Porto in 1979
  • The Roederer
    Roederer
    Roederer is a spelling variant of the German surname Röderer. It may refer to:*Louis Roederer, a Champagne house, or its founder*Pierre Louis Roederer , French politician and historian...

     group - owned Ramos Pinto
  • The Real Companhia Velha group - owned Delaforce
  • The Sogevinus group - owned Cálem, Kopke, Burmester, Barros
    Barros
    Barros is a Portuguese and Galician surname.It may refer to:*Alejandra Barros, Mexican actress*Alex Barros, Brazilian motorcycle road racer*Ana Beatriz Barros, Brazilian model*César Barros, Chilean fencer*Dana Barros, United States basketball player...

     and By Gilberts
  • The Sogrape
    Sogrape
    The Sogrape Vinhos S.A. is a Portuguese winery founded in 1942 by Fernando van Zeller Guedes as “Sociedade Comercial dos Grandes Vinhos de Mesa de Portugal”.Its first product was the rosé wine Mateus...

     group - owned Ferreira, Offley, Sandeman, Robertson's
  • The Symington Family Estates
    Symington Family Estates
    Symington Family Estates is a wine company and Port wine house in Portugal, which owns and operates several vineyards and wineries and owns several brands of Port, Madeira wine and Douro DOC wines, including some of the oldest and most well-known Port and Madeira brands...

    -owned Graham's, Warre's, Dow's, Smith Woodhouse and Cockburn's facilities
    Cockburn's Port House
    Cockburn’s Port is a port producer in Portugal.It started as a family-owned business and went through 48 years of ownership by various large corporations before returning to private family ownership in 2010 as part of Symington Family Estates.- History :...

  • The Fladgate Partnership
    Taylor, Fladgate, & Yeatman
    Taylor, Fladgate, & Yeatman is one of the largest port wine houses. Founded in 1692 in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, it is also one of the oldest. The house owns the brands of Fonseca, Fonseca-Guimaraens, Taylor, and Croft. The house ships almost all types of port including vintage, tawny,...

     group -owned Croft, Taylor and Fonseca

Therapeutic value of port

Port has been used in the past as a therapeutic agent. The British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger was given port for gout
Gout
Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected . However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate...

 as a boy. He began at the age of 14 (1773) with a bottle a day according to J. Ehrman (1969): "The Younger Pitt".

However, it has been widely documented in the medical literature that alcohol consumption can trigger attacks of gout
Gout
Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected . However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate...

.

External links

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