There are certain wines that have a mythos about them that has made them into a favorite tipple across the globe – one of these is vintage port. But just what is vintage port? Once port was the reserve of the upper crust of Britsh aristocracy – however, today that reputation has changed and more and more wine lovers are beginning to explore the mystique behind this wine.
In order to appreciate the complexities of vintage port it is necessary to delve a little deeper into just what makes it so special.
The first thing to realize is that for many years it required extensive time being set down in order to smooth out the right edges. Today, port is very different. Gone are the harsh tannins that required that extensive aging – today the flavors of vintage port have mellowed and it presents a fruity experience that should be savored. In fact, the vintage ports of today are so finely crafted that they are ready to drink in only around half a decade. However, to bring the complexities of vintage port to the tables across the globe may take up to 20 years. It is not that the wine is not ready for drinking prior to this (as mentioned but rather that vintage port will reach a level of complexity only after that 20 year period. And it is that complexity that lovers of fine port are looking for.
The way that vintage port is today enjoyed is also very different from the ways it was consumed generations ago. For many years the wine was traditionally enjoyed as aper of a post-dinner experience. Often men and women in Britain (and elsewhere in the world) would retire to separate rooms where they would settle back and simply enjoy each others company. For men, the ritual of consuming port was often paired with fine cigars. In fact the heady taste of port pairs with cigars remarkably well – and they often accompany the port drinking experience.
However today vintage port is also enjoyed during the course of a meal. It is, after all, a red wine well all is said and done. The younger varieties of vintage port pair extremely well with robust flavors such as steak. The older varieties pair extremely well with even more robust meals – such as a cheese platter featuring some of the more flavorful of cheeses (a great example is Stilton or other varieties of ‘blue cheese). Oddly enough vintage port also goes exceptionally well with fruits and berries such as strawberries. It also compliments fine dark and slightly bitter chocolate.
For many lovers of vintage port there is an art to serving it in a way that allows it to be savored. Ideally, it should be served in smaller glasses than other red wines. In the absence of fine crystal glasses designed for serving port a white wine glass will serve admirably.
So in answer to the question ‘what is vintage port’? The answer is that it is a wine that should be enjoyed as part of a great meal and among fronds who will enjoy both the robust nature of the wine – and its ability to add that something a little special to any occasion.