STATEPOINT — There’s a wide world of wine out there to discover. If you find yourself reaching for the same few varietals time and again, consider expanding your range with different types that you might not necessarily think to pair with your meals.
For example, Port, which is thought by many to be just an after-dinner or dessert wine, is versatile in itself and can be used before, during or after meals.
“Port is not just a wine to enjoy after dinner,” says David Guimaraens, head winemaker for Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca and Croft. “The range of styles means you can enjoy Port as an aperitif, with dessert, or at a party.”
Port is one of the world’s great classical wines and is made in Portugal’s Douro Valley since the late 1600s. Portugal is the birthplace of true Port, which is defined as a fortified wine made from Portuguese grape varieties and the addition of neutral grape spirit.
Depending on how it is aged, Port comes in a spectrum of styles, each of which can beautifully complement meals or special occasions, and can be enjoyed year-round. The most popular styles of Port are Ruby, Tawny and White. Here are a few tips and recommendations for getting the best use of them.
• Ruby Port such as Fonseca BIN 27, made by one of the most revered Port houses, is aged for three to four years in large oak vats to produce a full-bodied wine with intense, dark berry fruit flavors. It pairs well with chocolate, berries and spiced nuts. It also makes an excellent ingredient in cocktails, such as a Manhattan (in place of sweet Vermouth) or as the base of a punch or sangria.
• Tawny Ports are matured in small oak casks for 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. These elegant wines have an intense amber color, opulent, jammy, nutty aromas and a rich flavor profile of figs and dried fruit, making them ideal for pairing with Pecan Pie, dried apricots, and desserts made with coffee or caramel. Slightly chill a Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny and enjoy as an aperitif with mixed nuts, or serve at room temperature at the end of a meal.
• White Port, which was first introduced in the 1930s, is made from white Douro grape varieties and aged in large wooden vats. Lightly sweet with vibrant acidity and a velvety texture, dry white Port offers fruit aromas and flavors with light oak notes. Chill Fonseca’s Siroco Dry White Port for an elegant aperitif wine, or serve it alone or with premium Indian Tonic, such as Fever-Tree, and a sprig of mint or wedge of lemon.
• Don’t forget to savor your Port. A unique characteristic of all Port is that an open bottle can last for up to six weeks when stored in a refrigerator.
With a bit of knowledge, you can get the best experience possible trying a new wine varietal.