Port wine is probably one of the most famous wines in the world. It’s uniqueness and richness makes it one of the most appreciated treasures in Portugal, by people all over the world. Port wine has been in Portugal’s history for many years now, and as time passed, it became more and more prestigious to its culture, a real landmark. However, there’s so much more about this wine that it meets the eye, from its history to its composition, but how did this iconic wine come to life and what is it about it that makes it so special? Let’s begin where all started.
Where Does Port Wine Come From?
There’s a lot of debate about the origin of port wine, and many people ask why do most of the brands have British names, so where did it all really start?
This precious wine is undoubtedly a Portuguese treasure, but its roots reach back to England. England is a country that doesn’t have the capacity to produce grapes, so its people usually ordered wines from France as an alternative. However, during the war, there was tension created between England and France, so British people stopped buying French wine. With this, their last alternative was reaching the Portuguese, but because of the distance, they couldn’t buy their wine, since the wine couldn’t make the distance without going bad. This is where a real force was combined. In 1703, the Methuen Treaty was signed between the two countries and after this, Marquês de Pombal demarcated the Douro region – this was the first country in Europe to have such a designation.
The Douro Valley became the place famous for the production of port wine. There’s no doubt that the British were one of the most important influences for the creation of port wine, however, there’s some debate about how it was created. The Queen’s men claim that they added Brandy to the regional Douro wine, but this method was already made in the discoveries time, where they did it to preserve the wine. Although the transportation situation was still a problem, they decided to use the Douro river as a way of transportation, all the way to Porto, where the wine was stored in the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia to age until ready to be poured. This is also the reason why the wine got the name of the city! From Porto, the wine was sent to countries all over the world, leaving people delighted by this treat. Port wine became famous and when visiting this lovely city, you can’t miss trying a few wines.
What’s Port Wine?
Port wine is a very strong, rich, incorporated wine. Full of intense flavors, sweetness, and quite the quantity of alcohol, usually between 19% and 20%, it is an appetizer wine and not one to accompany a meal. This happens because when the fermentation starts, it’s interrupted for a few days to add a neutral brandy with high alcoholic strength. That’s what makes it so rich and sweet, because there’s still a sweetness from the grapes. There are a few different qualities of the wine, being Ruby, Tawny, White, and Rosé. Tawny and Ruby are red wines, served always at room temperature, Ruby is more sweet and fruity, but Tawny usually absorbs the wood’s color and flavor, having a very woody taste to it. As for the White and Rosé, these ones are served cold and have a more light taste, even though the alcohol percentage is the same. Besides these classic types, there are a few more specific ones, like LBV, Vintage, Colheita, and Reserva. Its value and richness grows according to the aging years, like the saying, “it ages like a fine Port”. Port wine is a unique wine, perfect to pair with desserts, chocolate, and even cheese. You never go wrong with Port Wine.
Port wine is without a doubt a landmark in the culture of Portugal, and a huge part of the gastronomy of the country. The mayor of Vila Nova de Gaia is trying to make the port wine cellars classified as part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Even though these cellars haven’t yet been classified, the hope remains. Port wine is perfect for everyone, having an ideal characteristic for every taste, and it also makes the perfect gift. Next time you visit Portugal make sure to visit some of the Port wine cellars to learn more about this treasure’s history and to try some delicious wines. Thank you for your time!