All about Port wine

During our trip to the city Porto we visited several port houses and took a tour. I like to share with you what I learned about the differences between all types of port I like to share with you.


White Port: White Port is made from White Grapes (commonly Arinto, Gouveio, Malvasia and Viosinho). Made in both sweet and dry styles, they are intended to be drunk, slightly chilled, as an aperitif. White Port is manufactured and fortified in exactly the same manner as the Ruby, usually aged for two or three years in large oak vats.

Ruby PortThis is the Basic Red Port, which is a blend of several harvests that have been aged in wooden large vats for up to 3 years before being bottled, and is ready to drink on release. A warmingly sweet wine with a bright Ruby colour they usually show an uncomplicated spicy flavour. My advice would be to choose a decent quality Ruby (often referred to as ‘Premium’) as the lesser quality wines can be rather harsh.

Tawny PortTrue Tawny Port is a basic blended port, like Ruby, which is given more ageing in the small oak casks of 550 litres before being bottled. The extra ageing, which can be anything from 3 to 40 years, causes the wine to take on a Red-Brown colour and develops a dry nutty flavour with raisin overtones. If you want to ensure that you get a real Tawny Port then my advice would be to buy one which is marked with it’s age – usually 10, 20 or 40 years.

Because Tawny Port is a blend of several harvests the stated age is the average age of the base harvests, but at least you know you are buying real wood aged Tawny.

Full Vintage PortOnly selected wines from top years are used for the vintage port wine. After being 2 years in a large wooden vat, the wine is bottled and sold to the buyer to age in the bottle. The wine is mature and best after ageing for around 10 to 50 years in the bottle.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV):  Late Bottled Vintage Port is wine from a single specific harvest, the year being stated on the label, which has been aged in the large wooden vats for between 4 and 6 years. LBV’s are more complex than a Premium Ruby but are softer and more readily approachable than the Full Vintage. When sold, they are ready to drink.

Singe QuintaPort made from a single specific harvest, and coming from a single specific estate or Quinta. If the harvest is poor in quality the resulting wines will usually be blended to make Ruby or Tawny Ports. When very good quality harvests occur but which don’t quite make it to the standards required for Full Vintage, the harvest is used to make LBV’s and Single Quinta wines.

So Single Quinta Port is probably the next best thing to a Full Vintage! (and usually at a considerably lower price). Aged and bottled as a Full Vintage Port the wines are ready to drink on release but will age further in bottle, throwing the classic sediment.

Colheita: A Colheita is a Tawny port made from a single harvest rather than a true Tawny which is blended from the harvests of several different years. The bottle label will state the year of harvest and the year of bottling. The wine is given extra aging in the small oak casks of 550 litres for a minimum of 7 years.  

My favourite is a 20 year old Tawny Port (accompanied by blue cheese) but I do appreciate a chilled dry White Port as an aperitif.


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    One Comment

    1. Ien said:

      Volgende keer dat ik boodschappen doe, zal ik denken aan witte port. En dan aanschaffen. Je zei dat laatst al en ik was het weer vergeten. Op mijn to do lijstje dus, inclusief het proeven.

      March 5, 2015

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