Drinking and Pairing Port with Food

Port is the fortified sweet wine produced by adding spirits to partially fermented grape juice, which stops the fermentation before all of the sugar has been converted into alcohol. The result is a strong but sweet wine which can be extremely long-lived when bottled from a vintage year. The wines are produced in the Douro River Valley of Portugal and then shipped down to the town of Oporto, for which Port is named, and from there they are shipped around the world. There are many different styles of Port produced in two basic categories: ruby and tawny. Ruby Ports are Ports that have been aged in wood for only two years before bottling. This category ranges from entry-level ruby port, to Late Bottled Vintage or LBV made from a single vintage (although usually a very ordinary one), to Vintage Ports made only in the best years. The second type of Port is Tawny Port, which is aged in wood for a very long period whereby they take on a "tawny" or amber color. It is possible to find 10-, 20-, 30-, and even 40-year-old Tawnies on the market, and the rarely seen single-vintage "colheita" tawnies are well worth the effort to find. Most styles of Ruby and Tawny Port are meant to be consumed upon release, but Vintage Port almost always needs many years in bottle before drinking. Port is produced from a blend of local grape varieties, with Touriga Nacional being the most important.

Port is traditionally served towards the end of the meal with cheese or dessert. There is a temptation to pair Ruby Port with chocolate, but this can occasionally yield a bitter result, and Tawny Port and chocolate will likely fail as a pairing. Ruby Port works extremely well with desserts containing coffee, dark berries or a dark berry sauce, and sometimes chocolate. Tawny Port is ideal with desserts containing toffee or caramel and sometimes custards. A great Vintage Port's classic pairing is Stilton Cheese.

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Port pairs well with:

Dairy

Caviar/Anchovy

British cuisine

Foods cooked via Frozen

Salty dishes