Shopping for Port wine? Planning a trip to Vila Nova de Gaia or the Douro, and want to familiarize yourself with the basics before tasting? Want to impress your friends? We’ve made a simple infographic including some very important Port wine basics that everyone should know. From the region where it’s produced, to serving tips, this fun infographic will show you everything you need to know.
Regions: The Douro D.O.C. is divided into three sub-regions: Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo, and Douro Superior. “Corgo” is a river, giving the sub-regions their name: below (Baixo) and above (Cima) the Corgo river, and the Superior Douro, which borders with Spain. The two largest cities in the Douro are Peso da Régua, and Pinhão.
Most Common Grape Varieties: For red, there is Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Touriga Roriz and Tinta Barroca. For white, there is Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Viosinho, and Rabigato, all of which are native Portuguese grapes. Tawny, Ruby and Rosé are all produced from Red grape varieties.
Average Years Aged: Most Port wine styles have been aged an average amount of years in the barrel (or stainless steel). Rosé, White, and standard Ruby styles have been aged between 1-3 years, Late Bottled Vintage between 4-6 years, and Tawny running the full range, from as little as 1-3 years to as much as 100+ years, with the most common styles being 10, 20, 30 and 40 years.
Serving Temperature: Recommended serving temperatures for Port wine are 15 degrees Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) for Tawny and Ruby, and 8 degrees Celsius (45 Fahrenheit) for Rosé and White Port. Though, Tawny is often served slightly chilled.
Flavor and Aromas: The most common flavor and aroma characteristics for each Port wine styles are: Apricot, Nuts, Vanilla and Caramel for Tawny; Red Fruit, Baking Spices, Cocoa and Mineral (Schist) for Ruby; Floral and Red Fruit for Rosé, and Citrus and Nuts for White Port.
Port Wine Styles: The most common Port Wine varieties can be broken down into 4 groups: Tawny, Ruby, Rosé and White. Within those groups, there are several sub-varieties as follows. For Tawny Port: Tawny Reserve, Colheita, 10, 20, 30 and 40 year old. For Ruby: Ruby Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage, Vintage, Crusted. For White Port: White Reserve, Chip Dry, Extra Dry.
Better with Age vs. Ready to Drink: While a Port wine’s potential for aging in the bottle varies, most are considered “ready to drink” at the time of purchase. Typically, Tawny, Standard Ruby Ports (include Fine Ruby, Reserve Ruby etc.) Filtered Late Bottled Vintage, Rosé and White Ports won’t generally improve with age. Vintage, Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage and Crusted Ports, however, will get better with time.
Average Alcohol by Volume: Ranging from 14-20%
Storing Port Wine: Port wine is bottled using one of two kinds of corks: a traditional cork (used in table wine bottles), or a stopper, with a plastic top attached to the cork, meant for easy re-corking. The stopper cork is common for fortified wines, which aren’t expected to be finished in one sitting, and typically lasts longer than still wine once opened. Many Tawny Port wines will have a stopper, while Vintages will have a traditional cork. It is recommended that you store Port wine according to it’s cork: if it is a traditional cork, it should be stored horizontally, while a stopper cork should be stored vertically. Recommended storing temperature is 15 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit).
Serving Port Wine: Although Port wine can be enjoyed in any glass, the ideal glass in which to serve Port would be the Tulip style glass. The best alternative to this would be a standard white wine glass. It is not recommended (although it is common practice) to serve Port wine in a Paris Goblet or dessert wine glass, which are traditionally very small. Port wine stemware should leave ample room for swirling, and have a taper at the top to capture the aromas.
Suggested Pairings: Common food pairings for Port wine include:
- Tawny: Chocolate, Fruit Tart, Apple Pie, Creme Brulee, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds, Dried Figs & Apricots, Stilton Cheese, Cheddar and Gouda
- Ruby: Chocolate, Fruit Tart, Chestnuts, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds, Cherries, Raspberries, Gorgonzola Cheese, Stilton, Cheddar and Gouda
- Rosé: Chocolate or with a mixer (Cocktail)
- White: Almonds, Gouda or with a mixer (Cocktail)
You can download the full infographic here. For something a little more in depth, you can check out our introduction to Port wine. And don’t forget to check out our article on Port wine labels, which is essential when shopping or gifting Port wine!