- Full Flight Tasting for Two with $5 Credit Per Person towards a Bottle of Wine
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Port: Dessert Within a Draft
Although cakes and pies demand the most attention at dessert, a glass of port can be just as sweet. Join Groupon for a snifter of knowledge as we examine this famous wine.
Named for its birthplace near the city of Oporto in Portugal’s Douro River Valley, Port is characterized by its rich sweetness underpinned by notes of everything from dark fruits to butterscotch. Traditionally, vintners achieve these nuanced notes with the help of five grape types, including the tannin-rich touriga nacional, the fragrant tinta barroca, and the crisp tinta cao. After blending the quintet into a hearty red must, they fortify it with brandy, which halts the fermentation process, killing the yeast before it can finish breaking down the grapes’ sugars into alcohol. This infusion allows the wine to retain much of the fruit’s natural sweetness. But Port’s flavor doesn’t just come from its ingredients: it also comes from the aging process. Batches aged briefly in oak vats become full-bodied ruby ports, whereas those aged for decades in smaller oak casks mellow into subtle, airy, tawny ports.
Although authentic Portuguese port is fastidiously monitored by the country’s ministry of agriculture, many wineries around the world produce their own versions. In California, for instance, producers such as Ficklin Vineyards and St. Amant bottle dazzling port-style dessert wines crafted from grapes sourced straight from Portugal.
Port might’ve remained a regional curiosity if not for the reliably hostile relationship between Britain and France. After an 18th-century spat cut off the British from their beloved bordeaux and burgundies, they turned their thirsty gazes toward Portugal’s steep hillside vineyards. Soon, port was literally the toast of Britain, appearing everywhere from the Royal Navy’s Loyal Toast to the punches and potions described in the works of Charles Dickens. Even today, vestiges of Britain’s love affair with the wine remain; many traditional port houses still bear British names, including Sandeman, Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman, and Cockburn’s.