How Do You Drink Port Wine

When indulging in a glass of port wine, there is a distinct air of grace and refinement that accompanies the experience. As a lover of wine, I have always been enchanted by the opulent flavors …

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When indulging in a glass of port wine, there is a distinct air of grace and refinement that accompanies the experience. As a lover of wine, I have always been enchanted by the opulent flavors and smooth texture of port wine. With that in mind, I would like to offer my own perspective and advice on fully admiring and relishing this luxurious beverage.

Choosing the Right Glass

Before diving into the world of port wine, it’s important to start with the right glass. Traditionally, port wine is served in a smaller glass known as a “port glass” or “copita.” These glasses are specifically designed to concentrate the aromas and allow you to fully appreciate the complex flavors of the wine. The tulip-shaped bowl and narrow rim help to capture and enhance the aromas, while the smaller size allows for easier swirling and sipping.

Serving Temperature

The serving temperature of port wine plays a crucial role in how the flavors and aromas are perceived. Generally, younger, lighter-bodied ports like Ruby or Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) are best served slightly chilled, around 55°F (12-14°C). This cooler temperature helps to balance the sweetness and acidity, allowing the fruity flavors to shine. On the other hand, aged Tawny or Vintage ports are best enjoyed at room temperature, around 65°F (18-20°C). This warmer temperature allows the complex aromas and flavors to fully develop and reveal themselves.

Decanting and Opening the Bottle

Decanting is an essential step when it comes to enjoying vintage ports or older Tawny ports. This process helps to separate any sediment that may have formed over time and allows the wine to breathe, enhancing its flavors and aromas. To decant, carefully pour the port wine into a decanter, leaving behind any sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

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When opening a bottle of port wine, it’s important to handle the cork with care. Use a corkscrew with a sharp, thin screw and insert it gently into the cork, being mindful not to pierce the wine in the bottle. Slowly twist and pull the cork out, maintaining control to prevent any spillage. The anticipation of that satisfying “pop” as the cork releases is always a joyful moment.

Savoring the Aromas

Once your port wine is poured into the glass, take a moment to appreciate the beautiful color and clarity. Bring the glass to your nose and take a deep breath to capture the aromas. You may notice a range of scents, from ripe dark fruits such as blackberries and plums, to hints of spices, chocolate, and even floral notes. Allow the aromas to transport you to the vineyards where the grapes were grown, and let your senses fully immerse in the experience.

Tasting and Pairing

Now it’s time to take that first sip and let the flavors dance on your palate. Take a small sip and let the wine coat your tongue, allowing the complex flavors to unfold. You might taste a luscious sweetness, balanced by a refreshing acidity. The velvety texture and smooth mouthfeel are part of what makes port wine so luxurious.

When it comes to pairing port wine, there are endless possibilities. The sweetness and richness of port wine make it a wonderful companion to a variety of desserts, such as dark chocolate, berries, and cheese. For a truly indulgent experience, pair your port wine with a slice of rich chocolate cake or a creamy blue cheese. The contrast of flavors will create a harmonious symphony on your palate.

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Drinking port wine is a sensory journey that engages all of your senses. From the moment you select the perfect glass to the delightful aromas and flavors that unfold with every sip, it’s a truly captivating experience. So, next time you find yourself with a bottle of port wine, take your time, savor the moment, and let this exquisite drink transport you to a world of elegance and indulgence.

John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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