Pick up a port for a pleasant surprise...

Dows and Six Grapes

Dows and Six Grapes - Credit: Archant

Vintage, late bottled vintage, vintage character. These are all terms used by port producing companies to describe different wines in their range but do they mean much to today’s wine drinkers looking for a digestif to round off a meal or to accompany the cheese?

Dows Quinta do Bomfim

Dows Quinta do Bomfim - Credit: Archant

Things are complicated even further when you take into account decanting and aging, etc?

A vintage wine speaks for itself as the label says it is a wine of a specific named year, but vintage character? There are wine laws defining this and other port related terms but are a bit of a mystery to today’s drinkers and this has helped the decline of port drinking in a world 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 recently been introduced 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.

The Noval Black from Quinta do Noval is a strikingly packaged reserve ruby port.

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The black and silver labelling on the tall bottle make it stand out on supermarket and wine shop shelves alike. It is a new-age port designed to be enjoyed with dark chocolate or in cocktails – no ageing 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 step too far in terms of price then why not try some of the single quinta vintage ports? These include Quinta do Bomfim from the renowned port house Dows which has its inherent perfumed aromas and deep dark soft flavours;and the Quinta dos Malvedos from Grahams with its rich brooding depth of flavour. Both are circa £25 each per bottle which is less than 25 per cent of the price of the vintage port.

Another port-based wine gaining popularity is white port, drunk chilled with soda or tonic wate,r making an enjoyable aperitif or accompaniment to light sweet desserts. Grahams make a fresh delicate example with grape and almond flavours.

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