I recently found out that I am considered a bit of an expert about Port wine by the website that measure social media impact, Klout – which made me chuckle. This was brought to my attention with the arrival of a question from another Klout user in my inbox, and was a surprise to me! I assume this must be a new feature as I have not come across questions coming from Klout users before. So I decided to take a few moments to answer, what is not a very easy and quite complicated, question. I mean, there really are books on the subject!
So here is the question about Port wine and my brief answer.
A Question about Port Wine
Question: For someone getting into Ports, what’s a good place to start (brands, types, etc.)?
Hello, I don’t know where you are based, I am in the UK, but the brands I mention should be available worldwide.
There are 2 types of Port wine styles – Ruby and Tawny, the basic essential difference being that Ruby Ports are bottle aged and Tawny Ports are barrel aged. Ruby Ports are redder in colour and tend to show more red fruit character whilst Tawny Ports are browner (i.e. tawny) in colour and have more nutty, caramel and dried fruit character. So there is your first decision Ruby or Tawny. Or both, of course?
The next step is style. I would probably avoid anything that actually says Ruby on the label (this is always the Port House’s cheapest Port). It is worth trading up to a LBV – Late Bottled Vintage Port (still a Ruby port). Likewise avoid a cheap Tawny and look for something that says aged Tawny on the label or maybe go for a 10 Year Old. If you do this, we are talking about pretty good quality Ports. After this you might want to explore Single Quinta and Vintage (Ruby) or older (20 or 30 year old Tawny or single vintage Tawny known as Colheita. You will begin to appreciate how the Ports change, improve and develop over time.
Brandwise, look for the big names for consistency and value, names such as Dow, Warre, Graham, Taylor, Fonseca are some of the best. Once you have tried some of these and appreciate the differences in style, quality etc. it is worth seeking out some of the smaller, more boutique producers, who often put a lot more effort in producing and ageing their Ports. Look for names like Niepoort (a personal favourite), Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Noval, Burmester, Kopke and there are many more.
So what do you think? Good basic answer or not?
Read more at my blog post How to Decant Port.