Though I associate a lot of four letter words with winter, my favourite has got to be “port.” The delectably fortified goodness that is Portugal’s liquid claim to fame and the perfect thing to sip on when the weather outside is frightful.
There are four main varieties of true Portuguese port.
The lightest are called Ruby because of their bright colour and fresh, youthful charm.
Those designated Tawny are made by blending a variety of wines of either different or the same ages to create a balanced wine that’s still rich and complex.
Late bottled vintage versions are made from a blend of wines that share the same vintage, and vintage styles are wines made from grapes grown in a single year.
It all seems simple until the juice hits your mouth.
There, the combination of higher alcohol and complexity of flavours can come across as unsettling as any recent Charlie Sheen interview. Port is always interesting but rarely cheap. A great place to start is somewhere in the middle like Taylor Fladgate’s 10 Year Old Tawny ($34.95 - $40.48).
Up-front raisin/plum fruit, a subtle nuttiness and a long, sophisticated sweetness, make for near port perfection.
Prices reflect the range across the country. Some products may not be available in all provinces.
Peter Rockwell is the everyman’s wine writer, working in the liquor industry for more than 25 years and travelling the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.