Saturday, March 9, 2013

Port Wines And Their Different Styles--Part One

Excuse Me But Can You Help Me Find A Port I Will Like?

Good friend and fellow blogger Talya Boerner asked if I knew a substitute for a Tawny Port which more or less led me to write last week about how much I like Ports, and that as the Texas wine industry grows, it will become known for its Ports, especially those from Tempranillo and Texas Black Spanish grapes.  

I realize that while I can tell you how great Ports are, that really doesn’t help you determine the type you like. I’m talking about going to a wine shop and trying to sort through the different types of Ports, which in many ways can be very difficult.

You see, one of the great things about Ports is that there’s one for all occasions and budgets, with different characteristics, aromas and richness of flavors. So you first have to understand the different types of port before you can begin your search for your perfect one!  

So I’ve decided to try to explain the different types of Ports hopefully in a way everyone will understand. So here goes!   

Now the first thing you need to know is that there are two different classifications for Ports. While all Ports have been aged somewhat in wood the difference is how they are allowed to mature, which is either in the bottle or the barrel. Bottled-matured Ports are usually smoother and less tannic. On the other hand barrel-matured Ports take on the color and taste of the oak barrels and are slightly more viscous.   

Now that you know that bit of trivia, let’s look at two of the top barrel-matured Ports.

Ruby Ports—Young ports that are blended and aged in stainless steel, concrete containers or wood for two to five years. These ports are bottled while still deep ruby red and meant to drink immediately. They will not improve with age. They are fruity, fresh and often sweet. Ruby Ports are inexpensive, popular and a good introduction to Port. In fact, if you’re a first time Port drinker start with a Ruby Port! 

Tawny Part – Aged in wood between 5 and 50 years. They are blended wines with a golden brown color and slightly dryer with a hint of nutty flavor and aromas of butterscotch. They are the most versatile and work well as both an aperitifs or after dinner drink. Aged Tawny Ports or usually labeled 10, 20, 30 or 40 years and the older the better.  

Now let’s discuss two types of Bottle-matured Ports!

Vintage Port –Blended from the best wines of a single year and the best vineyards. They are kept in wood barrels for two or three years before bottling. They're not usually ready to drink until they are about 20 years of age when they become a very smooth, elegant and mellow wine that is rich with great perfumes. 

They usually need to be decanted and are the most expensive of the Ports and most desirable with bouquets of coffee and cocoa combined with spices like pepper and cinnamon.. It’s also important to know that once opened a Vintage Port loses it flavor quickly and should be drunk within 24 hours of decanting. And "Vintage Porto" must be clearly marked on the label.  

Single-Quinta Vintage Port--Now these Ports come from a single vintage and estate, but are not good enough to be called a Vintage Port. Their grapes are from a single vineyard while a Vintage Port’s grapes are blends from the best vineyards. 

They’re kind of a marketing tool. They are made in good years but not from the best grapes, which allows wineries to expand their Port production by using their second level of wines to make a Single-Quinta Vintage Port. They're not as good as Vintage Ports but close at half the price. And they will also need to be decanted before drinking.    
Both the Vintage ports and the Single-Quinta Ports need to be stored on their sides in cool places just like other fine red wines.  

More on Ports next weeks and then a promise to move on!!!


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