Curious Small Sips #4: Port

Curious Small Sips 4 Port (1)

PORT IS A SWEET, FORTIFIED, overwhelmingly-red wine made in northern Portugal’s hot Douro region, a ruggedly handsome valley 75km inland from Oporto. Fully eighty varieties are grown in these terraced, schist-and-granite vineyards, the best being Tourigas Nacional and Francesca, abetted by Tintas Barocca, Roriz (Tempranillo), Cão and Amarela. The production method involves using a flavourless spirit (aguardente) to arrest fermentation at 6-8% ABV, which does two things: increases alcohol to 20%, and leaves unfermented sugars in the wine – this is why Port is syrupy and potent. Port comes in many styles, with youthful, fiery Ruby being the most common and long-lived Vintage the most celebrated (despite its comprising barely 2% of output). Ports can be drunk year round (“not just for Christmas”) and are perfect after a meal, on their own or with proper cheese.

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