Port and Pastry Pairings for the Holidays

The Fladgate Partnership
The Fladgate Partnership
It is time to start drinking your port with the colder weather upon us.  There are many styles of port.  I received 3 port samples from The Fladgate Partnership that cover 3 different styles; Pink, Tawny, and Vintage.   Port is made from indigenous grapes, typically Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Cao. Port is a fortified wine where the fermentation of the grapes is stopped before all the grapes’ sugars have been converted to alcohol then neutral grape spirits are added to bring the alcohol content to an ABV of 19.5%.
For those of you who are not familiar with these 3 styles of port:
  • Pink – a new style of port developed by Croft winemaker David Guimarens. Think of it like a rosé wine, that is crisp and fruity. It is suggested on the label for this port, that it can be made into cocktails.  I have not yet tried this yet.
  • Tawny – are made in oak barrels where the port wine is exposed to oxygen. The oxygenization turns the port a brownish colour and can impart a nutty tone to the port.
  • Vintage – port has a year indicated on the bottle.  Most ports are non-vintage, and can be a blend of multiple years.  Vintage port is made on years where there is an exceptionally good vintage. These ports are aged for a short time in barrel or tank before bottling so that they keep their ruby or garnet colour, and fresh fruit flavours.  These ports can age in bottle for many years before opening.  10 – 40 years bottle ageing is not uncommon.
I also thought why stop with tasting port?  The holidays are coming up, so why not try these 3 ports with different pastries?  You can then use my pairings to help you pick a port and dessert(s) that you would like to have for your (safe) holiday get togethers.  Let me tell you about the ports, the pastries, and the pairings.

My Port Tasting Notes

Croft Pink Port (BC $21.99, 500ml) – Has a medium intensity clear bright rhubarb colour.  A medium-minus intensity nose showing sweet red fruits, sweet spice, tart red cherries, and red apples aromas.  This port has a medium intensity sweetness.  It has a lighter body, round mouthfeel and medium acidity.  Red apples, red fruits, apple skin and a touches of strawberries, pepperiness, and oak on the palate.  A shorter length, finishing light, with red fruits, pepperiness, and a touch of oak. 4 stars
Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port (BC $39.99, 750ml) – has a darker, brown sugar / mahogany colour.  It has a medium intensity nose with aromas of brown sugar and red fruits.  A medium-plus sweetness, it has medium acidity and body, soft mouthfeel, with a touch of tannins.  Flavours of molasses, brown sugar, raisins, red fruits, and bruised apples.  Mellow flavours. Finishing with bruised apples, brown sugar, vanilla and medium spiciness. 4.5 stars
Fonseca Quinta do Panascal Vintage Port 2005 (BC $35.99, 375ml) – a dull, deep, solid garnet colour, from the core almost to the rim.  It has a very light intensity nose with aromas of red fruit, candied cherries, brown sugar, some sweet spices and a hint of floral.  Medium plus sweetness.  It is very smooth with a medium plus body and light acidity.  Red cherries, floral, candied red cherries, vanilla and a touch of brown sugar flavours.  Finishing with red cherries, followed by candied red cherries.  A dry finish. 4.5 stars
Croft Pink Port, Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port, and Fonseca Quinta do Panascal Vintage Port 2005 with wines in glasses
Croft Pink Port, Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port, and Fonseca Quinta do Panascal Vintage Port 2005 with wines in glasses
You may notice the left and centre glasses are port glasses, while the glass on the right is typically for aromatic whites, and is larger in size.

The Pastries

For the pastries, I wanted a variety of flavours and styles, and from a place that most people could have access to, at least in the lower mainland.  I chose Whole Foods.  They have quite a range of pastries.  I settled upon purchasing a:

  • cannoli – filled with creamy ricotta cheese, the ends dipped in dark chocolate, and the cannoli pastry dough infused with cinnamon.
  • mini fresh berry tart – about the size of a loonie coin, with a tender pastry, creamy filling and topped with a blueberry, a slice of blackberry and a whole raspberry.
  • lime tart – much bigger than the berry mini tart, this is about 4″ across.  A thicker, firmer crust, with a filling made with sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and lime juice, then topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
  • dark chocolate raspberry tart – the same size as the lime tart, and same crust.  The tart filling is a mixture of whipping cream, dark Callebaut chocolate, white Callebaut chocolate and raspberries.  The raspberries were mashed and made a layer on the tart shell, and then the whipping cream with mixed chocolates were overlain.
A cannoli, mini fresh berry tart, lime tart, and dark chocolate raspberry tart from Whole Foods
A cannoli, mini fresh berry tart, lime tart, and dark chocolate raspberry tart from Whole Foods

The Pairings


The cannoli has a nice crunchy shell that is infused with cinnamon.  A creamy filling that has a touch of coconut.  The dark chocolate tips adds some deeper flavours. 

The Pink port added bright red fruit flavours.  The Tawny brought out the red fruits and the port and lightened the brown sugar flavour.  The Vintage port kept its still rich fruit and worked very well with the dark chocolate.

I enjoyed all three ports with the cannoli.  A versatile dessert

Fresh Berry Tart

The fresh berry tart had a soft crust that crumbled easily.  Nice creamy filling, not sweet, topped with bright berry flavours from the blueberry, raspberry and blackberry. The Pink port’s red fruit flavours nicely complemented the fresh berry flavours.   The Tawny port flavour was too strong for this tart, while the Vintage port pairing was not quite as good as the Pink port.  You get the fruit from the wine and the creaminess from the tart, but not fruit flavours from the tart. 

The Pink port is my favourite pairing with the fresh berry tart.

Lime Tart

You get a light citrus flavour from the lime tart; no tart puckering.  There is a thicker creamy texture to the filling and sweetness.  The crust is firmer than the fruit tart, and not crumbly.  The Pink port brought out the citrus flavour in the tart more and you ended with a sweet finish.  The tart brought out the cherry flavours of the Tawny port and finished drier than the Pink port.  The Vintage port flavours were stronger than the citrus flavour of the tart, so I only felt the creaminess of the tart. 

For this pairing, my choice is the Tawny port.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart

The crust for the dark chocolate raspberry tart is the same as for the lime tart.  This tart is very rich.  Mostly semi-sweet, not bitter, dark chocolate flavour with a hint of raspberries.  The Pink port with it’s higher acidity allowed the red fruit flavours to show up above the dark chocolate flavour from the tart.  The acidity helped lighten up the texture of the tart.  The Tawny port balanced out the chocolate flavour.  You get half port and half chocolate flavour at the same time. It still finishes with chocolate flavour.  The Vintage port pairing gave me dark fruits, dark chocolate, a touch of raspberries and some floral flavours.  Quite nice. 

My favourite pairing with this tart is the Vintage port.

Overall the cannoli seems to be a nice pairing overall so may be an easy choice for dessert with whichever port you decide to pour.

Port and pastry pairing
Port and pastry pairing

Where Can I Buy These Ports?

There are many Tawny and Vintage ports from Taylor Fladgate available at BC Liquor stores.

BC Liquor stores also carries a wide range of Fonseca Vintage ports. You can also get this port via the Angry Otter LRS.

The Croft Pink port is available at Everything Wine, Marquis Wine Cellar, Legacy Liquor, and the Bowen Island LRS.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.