Having just endured the first major snow event of 2014 (in the northeast), the weathermen are telling us to prepare for bitter cold temperatures to follow. So, this week I’ve decided that it’s time to decide on which wine would best accompany a frigid winter’s evening at home.
Although it is a myth that alcohol warms you up (it actually cools your body temperature), alcohol does give the sensation of warmth when consumed. A Port wine would be as good a means as any, to deliver that warm sensation that we all would be looking for on a winter’s night. Port wine is a fortified wine crafted in the Douro region, in the northeastern section of Portugal. Similar to how a true Champagne can only be produced in the Champagne region of France, a true Port can only come from Portugal. Port wines are often produced elsewhere in the world, but they are simply fortified wines made in the style of Port.
Fortified wines are wines that are considerably stronger alcohol wise than standard wines. They usually fall within the 17%-20% alcohol range because they have been “fortified” with alcohol, (usually a grape neutral spirit called aguardente) during the fermentation process. This is done in order to add a sweeter or drier element to the wine. When wine is aging in an oak cask, the spirit is then added, thus stopping fermentation. Many factors come into play as to when the spirit is added. There are up to as many as 10 different styles of Port, with differences ranging from taste to age. Each Port has its own character depending on its age and style. The most popular types of Port are Tawny, Ruby, Reserve, or Late Bottle Vintage (LBV).
Tawny Ports are blends made from red grapes and aged exclusively in wood casks. During the fermentation process they change in color to a more orange, or brick colored hue. Tawnies are also most commonly designated as being in the 10-, 20-, or 30-year age range. The greater the age, the more expensive the Port. The age range is a compilation of the vintages of the grapes used in the production of the wine.
Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny comes from one of the oldest and most well known Port wine houses in Portugal, having been founded in 1692. 10-year-old Ports do not require additional aging and are on the more reasonable end of the price scale. Found online from $24.99 to $41.99, Taylor Fladgate Tawny is not very complex, quite smooth, and easy to drink. With a nice fruity aroma, this Port has a nutty flavor with hints of both fruit and wood. An excellent dessert wine, this Tawny pairs nicely with cheeses, nuts, coffee, and chocolate.