What does port taste? It’s a question that has confounded wine lovers for centuries. The confusion is that different varietal grapes are used to make different types of wine. People often have difficulty discerning the flavor differences between wines from the same varietal. So, what does port taste like? Is it sweet, earthy, and full-bodied? Or is it sour and acidic?
The truth is, it has a combination of both characteristics depending on the quality of the port. These factors affect the quality of the port and the way it tastes. And, when it comes to the best port, it’s not merely a matter of personal preference. The best wines are produced from the best grapes and aged in the right conditions.
Types of Port Wine
Port is a fortified wine typically made from grape varieties like Tinta Barroca and Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo). These grapes are typically grown in the Douro region of Portugal. The grapes may also blend with other grapes from other regions. The conditions under which the grapes are grown, and the time they spend aging determine the different styles of port.
The most common styles of port are:
This is the most common port. The fortified wine is usually stored in stainless steel or concrete tanks to only allow reductive ageing. The port keeps its colour and is often blended to reflect the style of the port house. Ruby port is stored for 4-6 years. The wine is filtered and does not improve with age.
Reserve port is a premium Ruby Port. It does not have a single vintage but is a blend of several years.
Tawny Port is made from fortified red wines which are stored in wooden barrels. This allows oxidative ageing which generates nutty flavors in the wine. Tawny Port is sweet to medium dry and is served as a dessert wine in Great Britain. You can serve it with the main course, too.
Other port wines are Rose, Colheita, Garrafeira and White port wines.
What Does Good Port Taste Like?
Depending on the ageing conditions or a mix of reductive and oxidative ageing port develops a different taste. The two ageing procedures which are used are reductive ageing and oxidative ageing. For the reductive ageing the port is stored in closed steel tanks or glass cylinders. This gives the port a which is smoother and less tannic with a deep colour. When you store port in oak barrels it`s called
oxidative ageing. It gets into contact with oxygen and part of the wine evaporates (angel`s share). The resulting port has a lighter colour, is more tannic and more viscous. Sometimes combinations of both methods are used.
The right ageing conditions for port wine give it a rich, full-bodied flavor. Additionally, the correct type of oak barrels can add a layer of complexity to the taste. These factors can help people distinguish the difference in the “taste” of port between the different styles produced by reductive and oxidative ageing. So, what does good port taste like? Is it sweet, earthy, and full-bodied? Or is it sour and acidic? The truth is, it has a combination of both characteristics depending on the quality of the port. Compared to wine it normally tastes richer, sweeter and heavier. The different ageing methods add complexity to its flavor.
Additionally, the best ports age in oak barrels, which gives the wine a layer of complexity that makes it taste earthier. The excellent port is rich, full-bodied, and has a strong aroma. It’s typically not too sweet.
The Right Conditions for Port Wine
The right conditions for port wine include a temperature of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit / 13-14°C and relative humidity of less than 70%. Additionally, the correct type of oak barrels can add a layer of complexity to the taste. These factors can help people distinguish the difference in the “taste” of port between the different styles.
The Difference Between Old and New Port Wine
Old port typically has a more potent aroma and more substantial tasting wine than new port. A new port is typically less complex than an old port. It’s lighter in color and has less complexity depending on the ageing method used.
New ports typically age for two to five years. Old port wines have a darker, less bright color. That’s because the wine`s colour loses brightness in the oxidative ageing resulting in port with a darker color. They’re also often sweeter than new port as the aroma and sweetness in old port is more concentrated due to evaporation of a part of the alcohol. Therefore old port wines typically have a more intense aroma and are more substantial tasting than new port.
How to Choose the Best Port Wine
Several factors determine the quality of the port. Additionally, the best port has a minimum age of 20 years. These factors include the type of grape used, the quality of the white wine grapes, and the conditions in which the grapes are grown. Other factors to consider are;
Vintage aged fine port wines between 20 and 30 years are referred to as an older vintage.
Alcohol Percentage: Wines with an alcohol percentage of at least 14% are considered a high-quality port. But there is a way you can remove alcohol from wine. From our point of view you should not do this as this will heavily impact the quality of the port wine.
The Port maker: Buying a port from a reputable seller is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the best port. Remember there is more to better wine than being an expensive wine. Follow your taste not the price tag!
The Downside of Ruby Port Wine
There’s no denying that port wine is a delicious beverage. It can even act as an aperitif or dessert wine. However, there are some downsides to drinking port. Firstly, port wines are typically high in sugar. That’s because the fermentation of the wine was stopped by addition of alcohol leaving a high level or residual sugar. The high sugar content of port wines can lead to weight gain, especially if you’re consuming it regularly.
Secondly, port wine is typically an acquired taste. People who don’t like port wine don’t know it even exists. If you don’t like authentic port wine, you should try drinking a different fortified wine like marsala instead. It is ideal to know how best to buy wine.
Port wine is best when chilled at room temperature. However, some people prefer serving them at a different temperature than others. For example, some people serve port in the refrigerator while others serve it at room temperature or on the stovetop.
Port wine is a trendy alcoholic drink. It’s also a delicious one. Several factors determine the quality of the port. If you’re looking for something new that tastes great and has a lot of health benefits, then port wine is an excellent choice for you.