Dessert wines often get a bad rap. Satisfying a sweet tooth is more a guilty pleasure than it is a luxurious privilege. This was not, however, always the case. Dessert wines were once lauded for their sweetness and enjoyed by the elite of the old world. Dive into some history of the most notable dessert wines, Ports, and indulge that sweet tooth with our suggestion on your next visit!
Port wines are a type of fortified wine. To understand these wines, we must think back to a time before the invention of refrigerators. Winemakers had a dilemma: Shipping wine in non-air tight casks often resulted in significant product losses, because the wine would oxidize into vinegar during the long voyages. The solution was to fortify the wine by adding a distilled spirit to it (often brandy). This stops the fermentation process, preserves natural sugars, and increases the alcohol content, reducing spoilage of the wine. The timing of the addition of the distilled spirit determines the sweetness of the wine: adding before the fermentation process completes results in a sweeter wine, and adding after the fermentation process results in a drier wine.
Port wines are fortified wines from Portugal. True Port wines come only from the Douro Valley in Portugal. The Portuguese used the fortification process to preserve their wines during sea travels between Europe and the Americas during the colonization of the new world.
Tawny vs. Ruby Ports
Ports that are intended to be made into Tawny Ports are placed into oak casks for extended periods of time to age. This process absorbs some of the wines color and flavors into the wood while also imbuing some of the characteristics of the oak cask back into the wine. Tawny Ports have more brandy characteristics (caramel from the oak influence, dryer on the palate and lighter body), while Ruby Ports have more wine characteristics (big fruit-full flavor, deep color and rich body).
Port Wines at Maynards Kitchen
Ports are typically consumed as dessert wines because of their sweetness. If you’ve never tried this unique wine, give them a try next time you join us for dinner! We offer Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Porto and Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Porto. Find these on our Digestifs menu, and give them a taste!
“Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy.”
– Alexander Fleming
White Wine of the Month – Michel Delhommeau, 2014 Hamonie
A full-flavored blend of ripe pears, fresh citrus, and minerality.
Red Wine of the Month –Loriñon, 2011 Crianza
Hints of spice and leather complemented by deep, dark fruit.
Wine Club members please come in and pick up your wines before they’re gone.