Buying Port Wine

Friday, May 2nd, 2008 at 12:00 am

portoBuying port wine can provide a challenge for many wine lovers. Although having its own rich history through the years, port wines have its own distinct characteristics that some people may like while others may not. Here is a look at port wines and how one may be able to buy them and enjoy the experience of it.

First of all, the difference of port wine with other more common wines in the world is that it is fortified with brandy. It originated from Portugal, where some of the most popular port wines still come from. As a fortified wine, it is typically sweet but can also come as dry or semi-dry. Brandy is added into the wine in order to stop the fermentation of the wine and to boost the alcohol content. Through this process, the wine also retains some of the sugar in the wine, making it taste sweet.

In buying port wines, you need to know about the different types of port wines that are available. You can have a choice between, Tawny, White, Ruby Red and Vintage port wines. Each type have their own characteristics that you have to know in order to be more knowledgeable when you try to buy port wines.

Tawny Port

Tawny port wines begin as Ruby port wine but is aged longer. They are also made from red grapes and aged in wooden barrels. Being exposed to gradual oxidation and evaporation through the wooden barrels, they eventually mellow into a golden brown color. The wine’s exposure to wood gives it a nutty flavor.

Ruby Port

Ruby port wine is the most widely produced port wine and the cheapest to buy. The grapes go through a fermentation process after which they are stored in concrete or stainless steel tanks to prevent further oxidative aging. Because of this, this port wine is able to preserve its rich reddish color. This type of port wine is then filtered before bottling. It is usually aged between three to five years with its characteristics do not generally improve with age.

White Port

White port wines differ from Ruby and Tawny port wines by the type of grapes that they are made of. Tawny and Ruby port wine varieties are made from red grapes whereas White port wines come from white grapes. White ports tend to have slight citrus flavors in them. They are best served cold and can be served on its own or as a base for a cocktail. White ports can range from dry to very sweet varieties.

Vintage Port

Vintage port wines are considered as the most expensive of the lot. One of the reasons is that they only account for about two percent of the total port wine production. Vintage port wines are made from the grapes coming from a single vintage year. Not all years are considered as a vintage year which depends on the conditions that are favorable for the production of fine and lasting port wines.

These port wines are meant to be aged with much of its complex character stemming from the slow decomposition of the grape solids found in each of the bottled wine. These solids are quite undesirable to the taste and may need to be separated prior to consumption. That is why vintage port wines required some period for settling and careful decanting to separate the solids prior to pouring and being enjoyed.