Discover fascinating facts about Portugal’s most famous fortified wine

See original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine January 2016


Douro Valley

  • Port is a fortified wine, which means a distilled grape spirit, brandy, is added to the wine during the production process. This stops the fermentation and boosts the alcohol content.
  • It’s produced in the Douro Valley up in the north of Portugal, the oldest defined and protected wine region in the world. Its name comes from the nearby city of Porto, a seaport from where it was exported to other countries. (No, we don’t think Portugal is called ‘Port-ugal’ because they drink a lot of port here).


Only from Portugal?

  • Nope, not anymore. Fortified wines a lot like port are also produced in Australia, France, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina and the United States. However, according to the European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only the ones produced in Portugal may be called ‘port’ or ‘porto’.
  • This isn’t the case in the US though. In America, wines labelled as ‘port’ can be from anywhere in the world, and the real Portuguese stuff is called ‘dão’, ‘oporto’ or ‘vinho do Porto’.


From aperitif to dessert

  • Although port is usually a sweet red wine, it also comes in dry, semi-dry and white varieties. There’s even rose port. It’s usually drunk either as an aperitif (add some tonic for a long drink) or with dessert (it goes well with cheese).
  • The two best-known port styles are Ruby and Tawny. Ruby port has been stored in stainless steel or concrete tanks and has a rich claret colour. The more expensive Tawny port has a golden-brown colour because it has aged in wooden barrels for at least two years.


Treat it well

  • Like wine, port should be stored in a cool dark location with a steady temperature. Bottles with a cork should be lying on their side.
  • Unfiltered port wines form a sediment in the bottle and thus require decanting. Whatever you do, don’t disturb this sediment before decanting as it’ll take days to resettle. Real pros open a bottle of vintage port by tonging it: snapping off the bottle neck cleanly, aided by some red-hot tongs. Please don’t try this at home.


See original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine January 2016

Posted in Food, Typical Portugal.

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