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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wineoceros Wednesday: Birthday Port

Seems that my day of becoming fell on a Wineoceros Wednesday.

While I very much find Champagne to have its sense of celebratory luster, port is my go to for relaxation, and I find it perfectly fitting on a day such as this.

Poor little misunderstood port, labeled for years as the sweet-syrupy, redheaded stepchild of wine. Falling out of fashion, it was shunned to the far end of the dinner docket, only to be enjoyed with the stinky blue stiltons while uncomfortably stuffed.

After falling out of favor as being seen as a 'musty' wine, it has since made quite the comeback. Bigger than Britney Spears following conservatorship, greater than George Foreman’s return with a revolutionary grill, and even more colossal than Robert Downey Jr. earning an Oscar after kicking the drugs that loved him back.
Yes, it's back with a vengeance for those of you vying for a sipping alternative.

Here's a wee lesson in port wine for you.
Consider it a gift.
Yes, I like to give gifts on my birthday.

Port, Port Wine, or Porto, all hail from the Demarcated Region of the Douro, Portugal. All that this means is that real port has to come from the Douro region of Portugal, similarly to how Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France.

It's a powerhouse of a wine selection, as it's a fortified wine. Fortified meaning Brandy is added about halfway through the fermentation process to kill the yeast, and prevent it from converting all the grape juice sugars into alcohol.

The resulting product is then aged in oak vessels before blending and bottling. What you're left with is a sweet wine, high in alcohol, that's all sorts of lovely, and all sorts of boozy seeing that the fortification process raises its alcohol level significantly.

Not a fan?
Well, it's not for everyone, or mayhaps you just haven't found the right port for you.

Allow me to introduce the following:

Ruby Port
A young, inexpensive, simple, and fruity wine. Generally aged for less than three years prior to bottling.

Suggested bottle: 
Dow's Fine Ruby Port (Approximately $12 per bottle) is full, fruity, and smooth with an agreeable level of richness.

Reserve Ruby Port
Made with a higher quality wine and has more complex fruit flavors. Cask-aged for up to five years prior to bottling.

Suggested bottle: 
Sandeman Porto Founder's Reserve (Approximately $17.99 per bottle). Full of the power fruit and fire that distinguishes classic Port

Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) Port
Similar to a Reserve Ruby, however the wine comes from a single year's harvest. Aged anywhere from four to six years.

Be forewarned, a bottle marked "Traditional style" will not be filtered prior to bottling You may wish to reach for a proper decanter. Unless of course, you quite enjoy sludgy sediment.

Suggested bottle:
Fonseca (Approximately $21.99 per bottle). Concentrated, intense black fruit flavors with notes of cassis, sweet spices, and butterscotch.

Tawny Port
An inexpensive, lighter style of port with notes of toffee and caramel. Tawny ports with indication of age are labeled 10, 20, 30, or over 40 years old. You'll find that a 20 year variety is a brilliant place to begin your port tasting adventure for its taste and value.

Reserve Tawny Ports are made by aging the wine for a minimum of seven years in oak. This process introduces new oxidative flavors to develop such as walnuts, caramel, coffee, and chocolate.

Suggested bottle:
Ferreira Porto Duque Braganca 20 Year Old Tawny (Approximately $47.99 per bottle). Seething with cherry and plum flavors, with a touch of lively orange, pecan and caramel notes.

White Port 
Made from white wine grapes, ranges from dry to very sweet. Aged three years in oak casks. Serve chilled, or with tonic water and a twist of lemon as a brilliant apéritif.

Suggested bottle:
 Dow's Fine White (Approximately $14.00 per bottle). Full-bodied, rich with delicately nutty flavors.

Pink "Port"
Introduced in 2008 as the new kid on the block. This port style is light, with fresh citrus, and fruity flavors, and likely pandered to women. Although considered a gimmick by many wine insiders, this pink drink is perfectly suitable for simple cocktails, or poured on its own over ice.

Suggested bottle:
Croft Pink Rosé Porto (Approximately $16.99 per bottle). High alcohol and sweet with notes of red fruit and roses.

Vintage Port 
(Including Single Quinta Vintage Ports)
  The very Rolls-Royce of the port family. They are very long-lived wines made using premium grapes from premium vineyards, and only made during excellent vintage years.

They show intense fruit flavors while young, and with a bit of age beneath them they'll develop intense spicy red and black cooked fruit aromas. Must be decanted, as they'll have a large deposit.

A vintage 97 Quinto do Noval runs at approximately $1,195.00 per bottle!

Suggested bottle:
For an affordable alternative, try a 2009 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port which can start at around $79 per bottle.

Crusted Port
A very small and rare segment of port wine is made traditionally using several unfiltered vintages that are blended then left to age together for up to four years.

It earns its name after its sediment, 'the crust', that forms in the bottle during fermentation, and has been nicknamed the poor man's vintage port.

Suggested bottle:
Fonseca Porto Crusted Port (Approximately $21.05 per bottle). Dark, raisinated fruit with eucalyptus flavors. Will benefit greatly from decanting.

Ah yes, port wine... The dark, forgotten, sugary, gemstone of the wine world that's swimming in a big puddle of right now.

Be it a grand celebration or relaxation, take the time to enjoy the lost art of these dense and dramatic special wines.

Cheese tip:
You'll need a full-flavored, salty morselbit to stand up to these bold and full-bodied wines. Pair with a classic blue Stilton, a spiced St. Agur, or the award-winning, Rogue River Blue, a sensual affair wrapped into brandy-soaked, grape leaves.

Add a handful of roasted almonds, a few black cherries, a dark chocolate dessert, and you're in for the gastronomical awesomeness of flavors waiting to play leap frog over one another.

Well, I'm off now for much celebration and relaxation. And seeing that the celebration of my planetary arrival falls on World Party Day, it looks like I'll be celebrating with allofyous.

 A colossal thank you to those who continue to bring out the best in me.

Sweet Sippings


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