Friday, February 22, 2013

Try An After Dinner Port…From Texas!

Any Port In A Storm But Texas’ May Be Great!!!

I really like Port it’s a great after dinner drink. Ports are named after the Portuguese city of Oporto and come in a varity of types. They are fortified wines that have a slight taste of raisins and are often sweet but they can also be dry and semi-dry.

The funny thing is that while they originated in Portugal they were invented by the British in the 17th century. You see the British were at war with the French so often that they had to start looking for alternative sources of wine.

In Portugal they found great wine but how to transport it to England was a problem that was solved by adding brandy to the wine.  

 After the grapes are harvested and crushed and partially fermented, brandy is added, which stops the fermentation. The Port is then placed in barrels for aging which can be between 2 and 40 years. 

And the best Ports probably still come from Portugal and you can always tell them because the word Porto will appear on the bottle. However some really nice Ports are being produced in other countries, especially the US.

A great trivia question to ask your wine nerd friends is how many grapes are approved for Ports. And the funny thing is that there are different answers to that question. However most experts will go with Portugal on this, where there are 30 grapes recommended and 82 permitted.

But there are only five grapes that are usually used in Portugal for Ports and one of them is the Tinta Roriz grape, known to us as Tempranillo.

This leads me to Texas, where the Tempranillo grape is really doing well and makes a truly great Texas wine. In fact, I feel Texas will become known for great Tempranillo wines and if it was up to me we would concentrate on Tempronillo and other wines from grapes that like our hot weather. But more on that in another blog.

Tempranillos are bold, full bodied ruby red wines with the flavors of berries, plums, herbs and vanilla. They also have the earthy taste of tobacco and leather which are always interesting in wine. They are very food friendly wines and go well with grilled meats, especially grilled pork.   

The Black Spanish grape also does very well here and makes a really nice Port.

Known as the Texas Black Spanish or Lenior, these dark skinned grapes flourish in Texas, producing a deep colored red wine with a dark fruit taste that's a little tart. 

Its Texas root stock was also introduced all across Southern France in the 1860s. Because of its resistance to Phylloxera, other classic French grapes could be grafted on the roots and survive that killer blight! So take that French Wine Snobs!!!  
The Texas Black Spanish and the Tempranillo grapes are being successfully used by Texas wineries to make some very good Ports.

And as our wine industry develops I am confident that Texas will also become known for its Ports. So the next time you’re in a Texas winery that has a Port, try it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how nice they are, especially after a great dinner with friends!


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