Port Wine History and 20 Port Cocktails

Sipping a glass of port by the fireplace during our cold winter season is probably what many people think about port.  It is enjoyable, but did you know that you can also make cocktails using port wine?  Let me give you a bit of background about port wine (there are many styles) and then lead you into port cocktails.

About Port

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2016 and Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port wines
Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2016 and Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port wines

Port wine is a fortified wine that is named after the city of Oporto in Portugal. The history of port wine dates back to the 17th century, when wine producers in the Douro region of Portugal began fortifying their wines with distilled spirits to preserve them during long ocean voyages. The wine was a huge success, and it wasn’t long before port became one of the most important exports of Portugal.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the production of port wine expanded, and the wine became popular all over Europe. The production of port is highly regulated by Portuguese law, and today there are strict standards that must be met in order to label a wine as port. To be considered port, the wine must be made from specific grape varieties, fortified with brandy, and aged for a minimum of two years before release. There are several different styles of Port wine, each with its own unique flavour profile and aging process.

The Douro region of Portugal is where port wine is produced, and the grape varieties used in port wine production are primarily Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (also known as Tempranillo), and other local grape varieties. These grape varieties are known for their high tannin and sugar content, which make them ideal for the production of fortified wines like port. The Touriga Nacional grape, in particular, is considered one of the best grapes for port production due to its high tannin content and strong flavour.

There are a few styles of port.  The first style is Ruby Port, which is the most basic and affordable type. It is aged for two to three years in large vats, resulting in a fruity, slightly sweet flavour profile with a deep red colour. Another style of Port is Tawny Port, which is aged in oak barrels for a longer period of time, typically 10 to 40 years. This aging process gives Tawny Port a nutty, caramel-like flavour with a lighter colour than Ruby Port. There is also Vintage Port, which is made from a single vintage year and is aged for two years in barrel before bottling. It is a full-bodied wine with a complex flavour profile and a high alcohol content. Finally, there is Late Bottled Vintage Port, which is aged for four to six years in barrel before bottling, resulting in a rich and smooth flavour profile with less tannins than Vintage Port.

The production of port wine is dominated by several major wineries, each with its own unique style and approach to winemaking. One of the largest and most well-known port wineries is Taylor’s, which was founded in 1692 and is known for its high-quality, traditional-style port wines. Another prominent winery is Warre’s, which was established in 1670 and is known for its tawny port wines. Graham’s is another port winery, established in 1820, that is recognized for its vintage port wines. Finally, Dow’s is a well-respected port winery, founded in 1798, that is known for its tawny and vintage port wines, as well as its commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation.

Port Cocktails

In addition to being enjoyed on its own, port can also be used in a variety of cocktails. Its rich, sweet flavor and warming character make it a perfect ingredient in cocktails such as the Port Old Fashioned, and the Port and Tonic Cocktail. The sweetness and depth of flavor of port wine also make it a perfect complement to other ingredients such as liqueurs, citrus, and bitters. Whether enjoyed straight or in a mixed drink, port is a delicious and versatile wine that has a rich history and a special place in the world of cocktails.

Here is an article I found online by mybartender.com listing 20 port cocktails.  Try a few and let me know in the Comments section below which you enjoyed the most.

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.