I am a creature of habit. I love a pre-dinner cocktail, which is always a gin and tonic. Recently, I was introduced to white Port wine as a replacement for my gin. Skeptical, the white Port sat unopened for weeks. Seems silly that I’ll try all types of wine, but won’t mess with my boring gin-and-tonic moment. After these winter months of big red wines and crappy tonic (WHO buys all that Schweppes??), I was ready for a palate refresher. This brave buckaroo tried the white Port cocktail—and I’m HOOKED!!
White Port hails from the Douro district of Portugal, like its famous red counterpart. It’s a fortified wine from a blend of approved white wines. Port wines, red and white, are higher in alcohol and sugar. I presumed this white version would be overly sweet and sticky. Had I read the label upon arrival, the “extra dry” notation would have lured me much earlier. I poured a smidge in a glass and gave it a sip. It tasted of light, organic honey, with a hint of nuts. It reminded me distinctly of Vermont’s Barr Hill Gin, which is made with raw honey and juniper. Barr Hill Gin is much sweeter than this Fonseca Siroco white Port. Now I’m intrigued. I mixed the white Port with tonic (NOT Canada Dry—too sweet) and cut a fresh orange wedge. This is my new favorite cocktail. Happily, it isn’t too tart or too sweet. It’s just plain refreshing, crisp and a fabulous change of pace.
I finally read the bottle and learned I had stored it wrong. I had plunked it in the wine fridge when I got it, but the bottle says to store upright and chill. It is now safely standing in the fridge door as the deeper chill brings out the notes of nuttiness from the wood aging.
Pair this with dried fruits, nuts, hard cheese, and the nightly news—or better yet, an Orange County sunset.
My “OC Sunset”
2 parts chilled white Port
1 part tonic water (NOT Canada Dry—noting a bias?)
Garnish with fresh orange, lemon, or lime wedge. The orange slice sealed the deal for me.
You’ll find white Port at Total Wine. They come in different sugar levels, so read the label. Hi-Time Wine Cellars sells the Fonseca Siroco Extra Dry White Port for $15, to which I’m now addicted.