Growing up in the wine country I have learned a lot about a lot of different wine but never have I learned about port. I decided to sign up for a proper port tour and see what it was all about!
The first stop was to a place called Ramos Pinto. It started with a museum tour and was followed by a tour of the caves and of course the actual port tasting.
Much like champagne has to be from the champagne region, port must be from the Douro valley or it is not considered port. The bottle also must say Made in Portugal or it is not a port. So, next time you are buying a port in the store, check for these two things and you will know you are receiving an authentic port and not just a dessert wine.
There are over 120 varietals of grapes grown in this region which gives port many options for amazing flavors! When the fermentation process starts, port is just wine. The difference is that on day 2 or 3, brandy is added to the wine and this stops the fermentation process and fortifies the wine to create a 19-22% proof port.
There are three main categories of port: Tawny, white and ruby. All ports are aged in barrels are aged in oak but some can be aged in stainless steel for a different flavor.
Tawny is aged in 228 liter barrels for 4-30 years. You are able to buy these in ages of 10, 20, 30 and 40. This means the average age of the grape in the bottle is whatever age is stated on the bottle.
White and ruby ports are aged in huge 30,000 liter barrels for 3-7 years. If they are aged in stainless steel they are only aged for 9 months.
The second stop was to Quevedo for another cave tour and some more tasting. Another delicious tawny was tried here.
Portugal produces 50% of the cork in the world. Obviously cork is used for wine corks but it is also used for making purses, wallets, hats, shoes and even used by NASA! Cork is water proof and an incredibly durable material. I decided to spoil myself and buy a cork purse as a reminder of Porto and Portugal.
The last place we went to was called Porto Cruz. Here we tried a white, rosé , tawny and vintage port! A vintage port means only grapes from that year were used and the port is aged inside the bottle. By the time I tried that one I was feeling pretty good!
My partner in crime in all of this was still my friend from Lisbon. We had a mini photoshoot with our sunnies and enjoyed the rest of the day!