All You Need to Know About Portuguese Port Wine

By the GVP Team - 24 June 2019
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For more than 250 years, wine cellars in Portugal have been producing top notch port wine using grapes grown near the city of Porto. The result is a truly satisfying beverage that perfectly complements your meal. So, what is the science behind this wine? We attempt to explain all you need to know about port wine in this article.

First off, only about 2% of all port wine is bottle-aged and comes with a high price tag. The rest is all wood-aged and you can drink it once it’s filtered and released.

Several types of grapes are used to make port, including Tempranillo, Tinta Cão, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca, and Touriga Nacional. Fortification is done by adding a neutral spirit into the port, which kills active yeasts, stabilizes it and puts a stop to fermentation prior to complete conversion into alcohol. When some of the natural grape sugars are left in the wine through this process, it results in a volume of about 20 percent alcohol and the sweetness you can taste in port.

Port Flavors


Port wine that is wood-aged commonly comes in two flavors:

Ruby Port – This has an aroma of spice and chocolate, with a smooth plum and grape flavor.

Tawny Port – this rich and mellow wine has an aroma of caramel, nut, and wood spice, with a dried fruit and fig flavor.

Reserve ports and aged tawny are also wines you might find that take the standard ruby and tawny ports to another level due to the use of grapes of a higher quality as well as longer aging.

Wood-aged port flavors which are rare come in these flavors:

Colheita – It has a pronounced nutty flavor with caramel, rum, wood spice, and dried fruit aromas.

Late Bottled Vintage – A pepper spice aroma with hints of chocolate, grape, and plum flavors.

White – Made from white grapes with a slight sweetness, drink it as an aperitif after chilling. Used for making portini cocktails.

There are two types of bottle-aged ports:

Vintage Port – The best grapes are used to prepare this wine from the best years. Its flavors include plum, grape, blackberry, blueberry, wood spice, and pepper. It has an aging potential of 15 to 40 years.

Single Quinta Vintage Port – This one belongs to great years and is made from excellent grapes. It is less complex than vintage port but has a similar feel. Its aging potential is over 10 years.

How to get the best results


If you love dessert wines, you are sure to find a port that perfectly matches with your tastes because of its combination of versatility, acidity, and sweetness. Try it out with contrasting items and pair it with various foods.

Tawny port might taste better when accompanied by creamier, stronger tasting foods such as caramel, soft cheese, nuts, crème brûlée, pecan pie, and milk chocolate.

Ruby port balances out the strong flavors of blue and aged cheeses wonderfully, and will also go well with fruitcake, raspberries, and dark, bitter chocolate.

Remember to pour just a few ounces, preferably in a small-sized, tulip-shaped glass because port wine is pretty bold and strong, so a small amount will take you far.

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