One of the world’s most famous types of wine is great with some foods but generally enjoyed on its own, part of a proud heritage that in recent years has gone global.
Try a new wine this week!
Port, one of the wine world’s best-known names, is quite possibly one of its least known wines.
One of the great joys of many a wine lover’s life, even in its native home of Portugal’s Douro River Valley, it faces challenges in today’s marketplace that it hasn’t seen in centuries.
Not that people don’t like it, they just don’t think about it.
Because port isn’t like other wines, not even like other dessert wines. The grape varieties are local, not the most famous and that’s an understatement. It’s made in a very unique way that involves adding brandy, wine whose alcohol has been concentrated by distillation, to sweet, inky-dark juice that has just begun to ferment. Once added, the brandy’s high alcohol kills the new wine’s yeast, stopping fermentation and presering the sugar. Thus, port has both lots of sugar and lots of alcohol.
But that just balances a wine this dense, this rich and full-flavored.
Only the best vintages are bottled separately; most are multi-vintage blends. Some, called tawny ports, lose much of their color through years, even decades, of barrel aging. Their impression of sweetness lessens somewhat as well. Most any port will live a long time, and all but the oldest and the best will stay good for quite a while after the bottle is opened.
Today port is made all over the world, usually in small amounts to satisfy a small but enthusiastic market. Syrah is one global grape of choice. Zinfandel is another.
I found a rather unique one recently. The winemaker at Oregon’s Del Rio Vineyards, in the Rogue Valley, used to work in California’s Paso Robles region. He’s brought a small amount of his Paso Sryah port with him to Del Rio, where it’s labeled Seriously Sticky Syrah. “Sticky” is an old term for this style of wine — dark, rich, lingering and complex. It’s the ultimate cold weather wine, retailing for around $20.
Del Rio Vineyards “Seriously Sticky Syrah” begins it’s life in the vineyards of Paso Robles.