Get to know your Ports this Christmas!
December 10th 2020
Christmas isn’t Christmas without Port.
There are a variety of different styles of Port but there are two distinct features about the way the Port is aged, wood-aged or bottle-aged. People often get confused about which Port needs to be decanted, which Ports are ready to be drunk and which Ports will improve with time in the bottle. Hopefully the following will explain in a bit more detail the different styles.
Ruby and Reserve Port
Ruby Ports are made from young, vibrant wines. The wines are aged for an average of three years in large oak vats before they are bottled ready to drink. This means there are full and fruity very vibrant wines. Ruby Ports have robust, youthful aromas of red fruits, well-balanced and fresh on the palate. Reserve Ports have the same youthful characteristics and rich red colour as Ruby Ports as they are made in largely the same way. But the difference is that they come from superior quality grapes and gain extra complexity from their extra time in barrel which is typically four to seven years’ wood-ageing before bottling.
Ruby and Reserve Ports are delicious served with cheese or dark chocolate. Once in bottle they do not continue to evolve and are ready to drink.
A great example of Reserve Ruby Port is Cockburn’s Special Reserve which is the UK’s favourite port.
Tawny Ports are aged in small barrels called pipes for a number of years before bottling when they are ready to drink. As their name suggests, Tawny Ports tend to be somewhat lighter in colour than ruby ports, showing autumnal, amber shades and taste more of honeyed nuts and dried fruits in contrast to the robust fruit flavours of Ruby. The extra years of wood-ageing gives them greater complexity and their signature nut and raisin characteristics. They would be perfect for anyone who enjoys whiskey or rum.
Tawny ports should always be served slightly chilled and are delicious with creamy deserts such as ice cream, crème brulé, apple pie or a sneaky square of chocolate. As they have spent many years evolving in barrel once they are bottled, they are ready to drink and do not continue to mature.
We recommended Graham’s 10-Year-Old Tawny which is the example of what a great tawny port should be.
These very special Ports are made only from the finest wines from the top estates in the Douro valley. They are the pinnacle of Port quality and only made in exceptional years. Vintage Ports are bottled unfiltered after spending their first 18 months in wood and then mature in bottle. Many will continue to mature and evolve in the bottle for 30 years or more. Vintage Ports begin life a deep purple-black colour, but this softens with age as they gain in structure and complexity. Vintage Ports should always be decanted before serving.
A Single Quinta Vintage Port is from a specific top estate and showcases the terroir and characteristics of this estate. Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos for example shows a signature eucalyptus fresh minty finish.
As the epitome of port look no further than cheese or nuts for the perfect pairing, although dark chocolate or fruit go very well too.
Quinta dos Malvedos is the flagship vineyard for Graham’s ports and has produced some of the most awarded vintage ports ever.