Pass the port...

A selection of ports from Flagship Wines.

A selection of ports from Flagship Wines. - Credit: Archant

Vintage, late bottled vintage, vintage character… all of these are terms used by port houses to describe different wines in their range but what do they mean much to you if you’re looking for a digestif to round off a meal or to accompany the cheese?

There’s also the question of decanting or not? This complicates matters further, but in simple terms here we go, our simple guide to port.

A vintage wine speaks for itself as the label says it is a wine of a specific named year, but what about vintage character? There are wine laws defining this and other port related terms but they are not that easily understood and this has helped the decline of port drinking where there are a myriad of other wines available.

Port shippers have recognised the problem and in an effort to try to stem the decline of their product category some of the innovative producers have ‘designed’ products aimed at recruiting new drinkers. Two examples are the Grahams Six Grapes Reserve Port and the Noval Black from Quinta do Noval.

Grahams Six Grapes Reserve is one of Graham’s original port blends but which has only been introduced in the last few years on a broad scale in the UK. It is a full robust wine with great richness and complexity, blended to reproduce the style of Graham’s vintage port.

One great advantage is that it is made ready to drink and enjoy and often called the everyday port for the vintage port drinker. It is great with chocolate and ripe cheeses.

The six grapes depicted on the label are representative of the fact that six grape varieties are used in its production.

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The Noval Black from Quinta do Noval is a strikingly packaged reserve ruby port. The black and silver labelling on the tall bottle make it stand out on supermarket and wine shop shelves alike. It is a modern style of port designed to be enjoyed with dark chocolate or in cocktails without the need for aging or decanting necessary!

The wine is a very deep ruby colour with a silky intense creamy cherry and red berry fruit flavour, robust and elegant it is a very approachable port. The hints of chocolate and fudge on the palate make it a great accompaniment to chocolate desserts that are usually difficult to pair up with wines.

If you like the thought of drinking quality port but vintage port is a beyond your budget why not try some of the single quinta vintage ports such as Quinta do Bomfim from the renowned port house Dows which has its inherent perfumed aromas and deep dark soft flavours; or the Quinta dos Malvedos from Grahams with its rich brooding depth of flavour and at 25% of the price of the vintage port they offer great value for money.

Another port based drink gaining popularity is white por,t drunk chilled with soda or tonic water and thus an enjoyable aperitif or with light sweet desserts. Grahams make a fresh delicate example with grape and almond flavours.

Give port ago, try it with cheese, chocolate, or as a digestif with a coffee at the end of a meal?