Whether you’re celebrating National Chocolate Day or you feel left out when everyone orders a scotch after dinner because you don’t drink it, consider a glass of Port.
It’s not your father’s drink anymore and it’s actually the perfect accompaniment to that big fat brownie.
We recently had the pleasure of attending a Port tasting with Rupert Symington, whose family has been Port shippers in Portugal since 1882. And they sell Port under a bunch of different labels: W&J. Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s, and Cockburn’s.
Even cooler: Their 2011 Dow’s Vintage Port was Wine Spectator’s 2014 Wine of the Year.
Super cool because Port never wins Wine of the Year. Like ever.
So here’s what you need to know and why you should reach for it.
1. Port Is Fortified With Brandy
Port is a sweet fortified wine from the Douro region of Portugal It is made from grapes that are indigenous to Portugal and there are close to 50 different varieties. But many have similarities to the ones you know. For instance, the Touriga Franca grape is like our Merlot and the Touriga Nacional grape is much like our Cabernet Sauvignon.
Halfway through Port’s fermentation process, brandy is added. So the alcohol content is amped up to 20%.
The conditions are very dry in the Douro so the grapes need thick skins to survive. The thicker the skins, the more the sugar in the grapes, so that’s what makes the wine sweeter than normal.
2. Leave It On The Counter — For Weeks!
Port is already aged when you open the bottle so you don’t have to worry about waiting to drink it. Even better, since the wine has already seen so much oxygen during the aging process, it won’t spoil when you open it. So you can leave it on your counter for weeks, says Symington, who is a fourth generation member of the Symington family and joint CEO of the family businesses with his cousins.
We love that.
3. Serve In A White Wine Glass
Skip the Thurston Howell cordial glass. Pick a white wine glass or bigger, suggests Symington. “Than you can really smell the it and get the flavors.”
And don’t decant it either. Just pour and drink.
4. Pick a Ruby Port with your Brownie
A ruby Port is basically younger and more fruit-forward. It has a rich claret color and tastes closer to a Zinfandel.
This wine cries out for brownies or anything chocolate and rich cheeses.
5. Grab A Tawny with Anything Caramel or That Pecan Pie
A tawny port is aged longer, anywhere from 10 to 40 years. Tawny actually means golden brown which is the color of the wine, which it is gets from being in the barrel for so long.
It is less sweet, more nutty, and is great with anything caramel or your pecan pie.
So pour a glass. Whether you have a big piece of chocolate cake today or you light a fire on a Saturday night, it will pair perfectly.
3 Ports to Try
Warre's Warrior Port, Portugal, $17
Deep red color, aromas of ripe red fruits and spices, long finish.
Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Port, Portugal, $20
Ripe plums, cherries and full-bodied. Get the dark chocolate.
Dow's 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal, $32
A blend of older wines, nutty with citrus and vanilla accents, soft finish.