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A Little About Port
- Port is a fortified dessert wine made in Portugal by adding brandy or neutral grape spirits to wine before it has finished fermenting. The result is a sweet wine with about 20 percent alcohol.
- The initial wine is usually made using a blend of six Portuguese grapes, which are still trodden by foot.
- Port wines are available as either bottle-aged (vintage Port, late-bottled vintage Port—LBVs)—or wood-aged (10-year, 20-year, 40-year old tawny Port).
- Port can be served before the meal as a cocktail or aperitif (pink Port with club soda), or after the meal
- The first shipments of wine under the name Port were recorded in 1678.
- Port became very popular in England after 1703 when the duties on wines from Portugal were lowered and the war with France deprived the English of French wine. The long trip to England frequently resulted in spoilage so fortification was done to improve its shelf-life.
- In 1756, the Port wine vineyards of the Douro River Valley in northern Portugal became the first vineyard area in the world to be legally demarcated.
- Many of the oldest vineyards, now classified as World Heritage, are planted on narrow terraces supported by hundreds of hand-built dry stone walls.
- Although the wine is produced inland in the vineyards of the upper Douro River Valley, it takes its name from the coastal city of Oporto from which it has been traditionally exported.
- Many of the oldest and most famous producers, such as Taylor’s, Dow, Warre or Croft, are of English or Scottish origin because for most of the history of Port wine, Britain was by far its largest market.
Want to learn more about Port wines? Listen to this recent GrapeRadio.com interview, The Versatility of Port.