• Imagine if you will a warm summer night. The moon is missing, making the dark thicker then Papa Jones’s molasses barbecue sauce. A gang of fireflies pierce the void with a spattering of the tiniest suns. The breeze brings a mosquito that changes its meal ticket as soon as you blow cigar smoke in her famished little face. The group of friends you are on the front porch with raise a toast of port to your well being and all of your shared mutual friendship.

    Port (fortified wine from Portugal) has long been an after dinner drink shared with cigars, fruit, cheese, chocolate, and friends.

    In the Douro region of Portugal wine is fortified with a neutral grape spirit called aguardiente which stops the fermentation, gives the alcohol level a boost, increases longevity, and leaves a bit of sweetness to the wine.

    Aguardiente always reminds me of part of a mariachi song…

    “Me gustan tomar mis copas
    Aguardiente es lo mejor
    Tambien la tequila blanca
    Con su sal le da sabor”

    “It pleases me to drink my cups (drinks)
    Brandy is the best
    Also the white tequila
    With salt for flavor”

    The basics are as follows:

    Port is from Portugal

    All commercially available Port is made from a blend of different grapes of which over a hundred are allowed (including Bastardo or Bastard. Sorry, totally got a kick out of that), but the top five that are used are Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional.

    Most wine is typically 12 to 17% alcohol. Because of the brandy fortification, Port reaches upwards of 20%.

    Port (Porto) is the third oldest (established/protected) wine region in the world next to Tokaj in Hungary and Chianti in Italy.

    19th century Ports have still been known to be amazing if drunk today.

    Ports are best if drunk within a week, but can last a considerable length of time after opening due to the higher alcohol content and barrel aging.

    I enjoy port especially with dark chocolate, and considering how little a bottle of port goes for despite the age some of them have. I find them to be a steal.

    Enjoy a little something sweet to drink next time you have a good meal.

    – Jonathan Hood