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Doug Frost MS/MW http://dougfrost.com

November is Dedicated to Port Wine

Douro

Yesterday, Ryan and I took a leisurely walk through our little town of Terrassa. As the light casted a golden tone across the plaza, children rambunctiously played while donned in bulky sweaters to keep the chill far from their little bodies. Billowy steam wafted from hot coffees and teas scattered among the patio tables with bare hands gripping their cups for warmth. It was a stunning fall day, only made more magical by the smell of chestnuts and yams being roasted over big pits of coals. But yesterday also announced a changing of the guard in my wine selection. No longer can I reach for crisp and refreshing Vinho Verde or a Vermouth on ice. Now is the season for Port wine!

Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine produced in the Demarcated region of the Douro. Employing traditional winemaking techniques, Port wine has been considered for decades the emblematic wine of Portugal.

Did you know that Port wine can also be dry? Have you ever seen a white port? Did you know that Port can range in in sweetness, color, level of alcohol and flavor?

What makes Port so incredible is its sheer diversity. Port can vary in color from a deep inky purple to a light brilliant gold, including an array of intermediary hues such as tawny, golden tawny, golden and light gold. White Port, on the other hand, can be pale yellow, straw and white gold. What changes the color, the depth of hue, is based solely on the winemaking technique employed. Through oxidation, a white wine can acquire a a rich golden hue when aged in cask over many years. Port can also dramatically range in its level of sweetness. It can be unctuously sweet, sweet, semi-dry or extra dry.

Throughout the month of November, we will be diving into the world of Port wine, breaking apart some of preconceived ideas as to what it actually is, how it is intriguingly interwoven into Portuguese history and culture, and what makes Port wine a fantastic pairing with fall/winter foods. Additionally, we’ve had several Port houses offer their wines to taste throughout this month, which we will happily do so, reporting our findings back to you.

However, in the honor of tradition here at Catavino, before we start any theme, we want to here from you! What Ports have you tried in the past? Are there styles of Port wines you’ve had an affinity for more than others? What questions do you want us to answer about Port wine? Obviously, we will happily answer and an all questions you may have, but we ask that you also take a moment to look at For The Love of Port (FLOP). Roy Hersh is without a doubt, considered one of the leading Port wine experts in the US. His knowledge has been so well regarded on topic that in 2003, the Port and Douro Wine Institute (IVDP) awarded him into their “Confraria” (Port Wine Brotherhood), instigating his creation of FLOP in 2004. We’ve had the chance to interview Roy, and have both felt that he is not only one of the most passionate port enthusiasts you’ll come across, but also one of the nicest. Hence, if you’re looking for something beyond a beginner’s guide to Port wine, we suggest you head over to his site for a more profound conversation.

As a side note, we don’t want to lead you astray to think that we will only be talking about Port his week. As much as November is dedicated to Port, we will also be chatting about Madrid’s major wine fair, Iberwine, as well as one of the most prestigious wine tasting being hosted next Monday by Todovino, called Las Lacres. We will also be sprinkling some extra Iberian news here and there to keep you updated on the latest happenings.

If you have any themes you would like us to tackle in the future, as always, we are all ears!

Cheers,
Gabriella

  • Troy

    Everyone has their own taste and is entitled to his own opinion, but for my money: -white port is for teenagers -ruby port is for cooking. Don't let anyone sell you either for sipping. Even with those two broad categories shoved aside in a ham-fisted totalitarian manner, there is a wide range of options. For those to whom money is an object — and seriously, isn't that everyone? — the older vintage ports can be quite the extravagance. Given that the wine changes dramatically with age, the older tawnies are a good cheapskate's way of enjoying the benefits of an old vintage without the price. Remember that they declare a vintage on potential, not achieved results, so that 5 to 10 year old vintage hasn't yet achieved what it probably will. They say it is drinkable, but why waste it? Another cheapskate way around vintage prices is to select a colheita. The whole industry has to agree that it is an exceptional year in order to declare a vintage, but in years where some houses think it is but they don't reach consensus, those individual houses might release their product as a colheita. So, a colheita from a house you like is essentially a vintage but at half the price (it is more complicated than that, but that's generally how it works). That's my thoughts on being cheap, but you know what? Go ahead and treat yourself to one of those vintage ports from back in the 70s. You will be glad you did. Thanks casal Opaz for making it Port month. I shall rededicate myself!

  • Troy

    Everyone has their own taste and is entitled to his own opinion, but for my money:

    -white port is for teenagers
    -ruby port is for cooking.

    Don’t let anyone sell you either for sipping. Even with those two broad categories shoved aside in a ham-fisted totalitarian manner, there is a wide range of options. For those to whom money is an object — and seriously, isn’t that everyone? — the older vintage ports can be quite the extravagance. Given that the wine changes dramatically with age, the older tawnies are a good cheapskate’s way of enjoying the benefits of an old vintage without the price.

    Remember that they declare a vintage on potential, not achieved results, so that 5 to 10 year old vintage hasn’t yet achieved what it probably will. They say it is drinkable, but why waste it? Another cheapskate way around vintage prices is to select a colheita. The whole industry has to agree that it is an exceptional year in order to declare a vintage, but in years where some houses think it is but they don’t reach consensus, those individual houses might release their product as a colheita. So, a colheita from a house you like is essentially a vintage but at half the price (it is more complicated than that, but that’s generally how it works).

    That’s my thoughts on being cheap, but you know what? Go ahead and treat yourself to one of those vintage ports from back in the 70s. You will be glad you did.

    Thanks casal Opaz for making it Port month. I shall rededicate myself!

  • RichardA

    Do you know much about the old English traditions of drinking Port?

  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    Do you know much about the old English traditions of drinking Port?

  • Ryan

    Troy, thanks for making me a teenager again! White port is a marvelous aperitif and one of our favorite ways to start a meal. Taylor's Chip Dry is a fav, but we like many of them. Make sure to revisit these, you may be missing out! As to Ruby's, there are good one's but the best value by far in my opinion is the LBV's, vintage port with a bit friendly time frame for drinking them. Cheers, Ryan

  • http://catavino.net Ryan

    Troy, thanks for making me a teenager again! White port is a marvelous aperitif and one of our favorite ways to start a meal. Taylor’s Chip Dry is a fav, but we like many of them. Make sure to revisit these, you may be missing out!

    As to Ruby’s, there are good one’s but the best value by far in my opinion is the LBV’s, vintage port with a bit friendly time frame for drinking them.

    Cheers,
    Ryan

  • Jill

    Hey Ryan and Gabriella, I think it's time for the Port-Pack!

  • http://domaine547.com Jill

    Hey Ryan and Gabriella, I think it’s time for the Port-Pack!

  • Troy

    Again? No, Ryan, you are a teenager STILL. Remember, you're only young once, but you can be immature forever (my life's credo). One of the directors of a port house once described white port to me as "a sexy blonde; flashy and sweet, but at the end of the day there isn't a lot there." Apologies to the feminists I have just offended. RichardA: British naval tradition is to always pass the bottle to the left (ie, to the port side). Some go so far as to pour for the person on the right and then pass the bottle to the person on the left to get their own glass filled, others insist you must only use your left hand. My favorite port decanters have a round bottom, so they cannot be put down. As the bottle or decanter is passed around the table, should it get held up somewhere, you can ask that fellow, "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?" If the confused fellow says no, you say, "terribly nice fellow but he never remembers to pass the port."

  • Troy

    Again? No, Ryan, you are a teenager STILL. Remember, you’re only young once, but you can be immature forever (my life’s credo). One of the directors of a port house once described white port to me as “a sexy blonde; flashy and sweet, but at the end of the day there isn’t a lot there.” Apologies to the feminists I have just offended.

    RichardA: British naval tradition is to always pass the bottle to the left (ie, to the port side). Some go so far as to pour for the person on the right and then pass the bottle to the person on the left to get their own glass filled, others insist you must only use your left hand. My favorite port decanters have a round bottom, so they cannot be put down. As the bottle or decanter is passed around the table, should it get held up somewhere, you can ask that fellow, “Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?” If the confused fellow says no, you say, “terribly nice fellow but he never remembers to pass the port.”

  • Gabriella

    Troy, from my understanding, there is a remedy for those who are greedy enough to "hog" the decanter and not pass it left. It is called a Hogget Decanter. A Hogget Decanter has a rounded bottom so that you dear friend can't set it down conveniently in front of him, claiming forgetfulness when the port has magically disappeared. Unless you have th nifty little stand for this decanter on the table, he/she is required to keep it in route to the next in line.

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    Troy, from my understanding, there is a remedy for those who are greedy enough to “hog” the decanter and not pass it left. It is called a Hogget Decanter. A Hogget Decanter has a rounded bottom so that you dear friend can’t set it down conveniently in front of him, claiming forgetfulness when the port has magically disappeared. Unless you have th nifty little stand for this decanter on the table, he/she is required to keep it in route to the next in line.

  • Ryan

    Troy – The best white ports are pretty darn dry! Infact the Lagrima's which are the sweet white ports from what I understand are their own category. Dry white port is like fine sherry, pair it with olives, sardines and enjoy!

  • Troy

    yeah, yeah…even the best and even the driest white ports don't have the complexity to warrant the name. that isn't to say that I haven't had a few of them — even recently — just that the dear dark versions do so much more for me. remember, I did caveat my original post that everyone had his own taste and was entitled to his own opinion (even if they are wrong!).

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    Troy – The best white ports are pretty darn dry! Infact the Lagrima’s which are the sweet white ports from what I understand are their own category. Dry white port is like fine sherry, pair it with olives, sardines and enjoy!

  • Troy

    yeah, yeah…even the best and even the driest white ports don’t have the complexity to warrant the name. that isn’t to say that I haven’t had a few of them — even recently — just that the dear dark versions do so much more for me. remember, I did caveat my original post that everyone had his own taste and was entitled to his own opinion (even if they are wrong!).

  • RichardA

    BTW, I may be going to a Portuguese wine tasting (about 150 table wines and ports) on 11/20/07.

  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    BTW, I may be going to a Portuguese wine tasting (about 150 table wines and ports) on 11/20/07.

  • Gabriella

    Fantastic Richard! We'll be looking forward to hearing which ports were there, how you liked them and what people's general impressions were of the style. Being a much more popular style than Sherry, it will be fun to hear what your experiences will are!

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    Fantastic Richard! We’ll be looking forward to hearing which ports were there, how you liked them and what people’s general impressions were of the style. Being a much more popular style than Sherry, it will be fun to hear what your experiences will are!

  • Bill

    Every time someone mentions White Port, all I can think about is the song WPLJ, which opens the "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" album by The Mothers Of Invention. This song is famous for the extended Spanish and/or Mexican dialogue that occurs near the end of the song. Personally, I've never tried WP. Of course, in East LA, they're probably not really drinking Port, but something improperly labeled as such, in the vein of Chablis or Burgundy. I know I shared this before, a few years ago, so my apologies to those who have already seen the lyrics. Feel free to sing along if you know the melody: I say WPLJ, really taste good to me WPLJ, won't you take a drink with me Well, it's a good good wine It really make you feel so fine (So fine, so fine, so fine) I went to the store when they opened up the door I said, "Please please please gimme some more" White Port & Lemon Juice, White Port & Lemon Juice, White Port & Lemon Juice, Ooh what it do to you! You take the bottle, you take the can Shake it up fine, you get a good good wine. White Port & Lemon Juice, (Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah . . . ) White Port & Lemon Juice, White Port & Lemon Juice, Ooh what it do to you! The W is the White, The P is the Port, The L is the Lemon, The J is the Juice White Port & Lemon Juice, White Port & Lemon Juice, White Port & Lemon Juice, Ooh what it do to you! Well I feel so good, I feel so fine I got plenty lemon, I got plenty wine White Port & Lemon Juice, White Port & Lemon Juice, I said White Port & Lemon Juice, Ooh what it do to you! Now the Spanish dialogue, which may translate somewhat R rated, according to what I've read. Sounds like they really want their WPLJ. Personally, I'll stick to Vintage, Ruby or Tawny. Por qué no consigues tu… tu carnal que nos compre some wine ese, ándale, pinchi vato, puto, hombre, no te hagas nalga, hombre… no seas tan denso, hombre, ándale, dile, por qué no merecer, ándale, pinchi vino, más sua… más suave es, más… más lindo que la chingada, hombre, ándale, pinchi vato, hombre, quiere tu carnal, hombre, tu carnal ese, tú, tú sabes, tú sabes esto de la movida, tú sabes la movida, ese, tú sabes cómo es, pinchi vino, puta, ándale, pinchi vato, cabrón, ándale, empechúguele, hombre, por qué no, hombre? Te digo que sí, hombre, te digo, chingao ese, está más… está más meco, hombre, nos ponemos más mecos que la chingada, ay! Ay, vato pinchi, ay! FEMALE VOICE: They… they get you after a while

  • Ryan

    Well I think good white port can be next to heaven. Not in the same world as Red and yes we are all allowed to have our own opinions. Therefore my opinion is that White Port is a Nectar from the Gods! Especially as an apertif…as to the song, I've sold a lot of what they are talking about(cheap cali knockoffs) and I will tell you it's a shame they still do it. Nothing in common with the good stuff. Cheers and now to head to the wine shop!

  • Bill

    Every time someone mentions White Port, all I can think about is the song WPLJ, which opens the “Burnt Weeny Sandwich” album by The Mothers Of Invention. This song is famous for the extended Spanish and/or Mexican dialogue that occurs near the end of the song. Personally, I’ve never tried WP. Of course, in East LA, they’re probably not really drinking Port, but something improperly labeled as such, in the vein of Chablis or Burgundy. I know I shared this before, a few years ago, so my apologies to those who have already seen the lyrics. Feel free to sing along if you know the melody:

    I say WPLJ, really taste good to me
    WPLJ, won’t you take a drink with me
    Well, it’s a good good wine
    It really make you feel so fine
    (So fine, so fine, so fine)

    I went to the store when they opened up the door
    I said, “Please please please gimme some more”
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    Ooh what it do to you!

    You take the bottle, you take the can
    Shake it up fine, you get a good good wine.
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    (Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah . . . )
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    Ooh what it do to you!

    The W is the White,
    The P is the Port,
    The L is the Lemon,
    The J is the Juice
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    Ooh what it do to you!

    Well I feel so good, I feel so fine
    I got plenty lemon, I got plenty wine
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    White Port & Lemon Juice,
    I said White Port & Lemon Juice,
    Ooh what it do to you!

    Now the Spanish dialogue, which may translate somewhat R rated, according to what I’ve read. Sounds like they really want their WPLJ. Personally, I’ll stick to Vintage, Ruby or Tawny.

    Por qué no consigues tu… tu carnal que nos compre some wine ese, ándale, pinchi vato, puto, hombre, no te hagas nalga, hombre… no seas tan denso, hombre, ándale, dile, por qué no merecer, ándale, pinchi vino, más sua… más suave es, más… más lindo que la chingada, hombre, ándale, pinchi vato, hombre, quiere tu carnal, hombre, tu carnal ese, tú, tú sabes, tú sabes esto de la movida, tú sabes la movida, ese, tú sabes cómo es, pinchi vino, puta, ándale, pinchi vato, cabrón, ándale, empechúguele, hombre, por qué no, hombre? Te digo que sí, hombre, te digo, chingao ese, está más… está más meco, hombre, nos ponemos más mecos que la chingada, ay! Ay, vato pinchi, ay! FEMALE VOICE: They… they get you after a while

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    Well I think good white port can be next to heaven. Not in the same world as Red and yes we are all allowed to have our own opinions. Therefore my opinion is that White Port is a Nectar from the Gods! Especially as an apertif…as to the song, I’ve sold a lot of what they are talking about(cheap cali knockoffs) and I will tell you it’s a shame they still do it. Nothing in common with the good stuff.

    Cheers and now to head to the wine shop!

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  • Steve

    Who drinks port wine? What type of person are you? More specifically, what is the profile of the native New Yorker who could be or is a port consumer? Steve

  • http://www.catavino.net Ryan Opaz

    Lot's of people drink port! :) We love the stuff. You might want to head to http://fortheloveofport.com and ask in their forums, I'm sure you'll get a lot of advice. Mention us if you do! Cheers,