Port


Port -

A strong fortified red wine, produced chiefly in the district bordering on the Douro River, Portugal, and named after Oporto, the city from which it was first, and is still largely, exported. It is of two main types - Vintage, from the pressings of grapes of a single season, generally when the crop is especially fine, and Blended, the "ordinary" Port, obtained by mixing wines of two or more years. Both during and after fermentation, small quantities of brandy are added to retain the sweetness of the "must" by checking fermentation, giving also the strength or "headiness" for which it is noted. All ports are "sweet" by wine standards, but some varieties known as "dry" contain less sugar than the very rich kinds.

The color of young (red) Port is a very dark ruby, changing with age to ruby-tawny and still later to light brownish tawny. When thus naturally developed it is generally of high value, but the process is very slow, requiring at least ten years and often much longer to obtain the desired mellow flavor and distinctive tawny hue, and for general trade purposes the time is shortened by mixing White Port with the Red, the result being a wine less choice to the connoisseur, but nevertheless very pleasing in general style and marketable at moderate prices. Even after blending, the wine needs careful and thorough aging, for Port does not attain its characteristic qualities until it has "rested" for several years. Genuine medium and even low-priced brands range from three to ten years old - after the latter period, the value increases rapidly if the wine is a good type of either "Vintage" or "Blended." The desire for quicker profits has, however, in many establishments substituted extensive adulteration and coloring of younger wines for the aging process, with the unfortunate result that Port has lost some of the high prestige which it formerly enjoyed as a rich dessert wine and a valuable tonic beverage.

In selecting Port, the best estimate of its qualities can be obtained by sampling it while munching a dry biscuit or a piece of bread. It should taste pleasantly full and fruity with a nutty dryish after-taste - it should not leave either heat, harshness or the feeling of sugar on the tongue. The best time for serving it, is at dessert with the fruit, but it is also very good at luncheon and with bread and cheese, etc.

Port should be drunk at about the temperature of the room. If an old vintage, it should be very carefully poured or decanted, because of the "crust" which forms on the under-side of the bottle. The "thick" wine left in the bottle should not be thrown away - it is excellent for cooking purposes.

White Port is a distinct variety of the color of very dark sherry, from white grapes.

The term Invalid Port does not signify a specially medicated wine - it is employed to designate vintage Port carefully selected for purity and delicacy and intended for use as a tonic.

Tarragona Port is a Spanish product, resembling the Portugese wine in general characteristics. It is good for early consumption but it generally deteriorates instead of improving with age.

See also AMERICAN WINES.


Arround Port in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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