What is Port Wine? (Learn What You're Missing)

What is Port Wine? (Learn What You're Missing)

Port wine is a Portuguese specialty. This sweet, red wine is commonly enjoyed as a dessert wine. It's even served in a smaller glass than most other types of wine. Three ounces is a serving, but that's all you need to enjoy this rich wine.

If Portugal didn't make your port wine, it isn't quite the real thing. However, pour yourself a glass, and let's get into all the things you are missing out on from a glass of port. 

Related: How to Clean Cloudy Wine Glasses

What does Port Wine Taste Like?

This rich wine, in all of its forms, is considered to be a sweet wine. Often port wine has notes of sweet fruits like raspberries or blackberries. Additionally, hints of caramel and cinnamon appear in port. And some even carry notes of chocolate. A mix of these flavors adds a richness to port wine that is hard to resist.

How to Drink Port Like An Expert

You don't need to be a Sommelier to enjoy a glass of port wine. 

Types of Port

Having the right tools and accessories can help you get the most out of your port wine experience. 

There are many styles of port. However, the two main styles are.

  • A red port that carries more berry and chocolate flavors
  • A lighter style of port emphasizes the caramel and nutty flavors that are a part of port's flavor profile

If you happen to try an older, fine, tawny port, they could easily have a more comprehensive array of flavor notes. You'll find hints of almond, hazelnut, green peppercorn, or graham cracker. The older the wine, the more complex the taste will be.

Styles of Port

Most port wines will fall into one of four categories. 

  • Ruby Port: A deeply-colored red port includes Vintage, Late-bottled Vintage (LBV), Crusted, and Ruby Port. These ports often have more berry flavor than the others.
  • Tawny Port: This is a very sweet barrel-aged port with more robust nut and caramel flavors.
  • White Port: Different than a tawny, white port is made with indigenous white grapes such as Rabigato, Viosinho, Gouveio, and Malvasia.
  • Rosé Port: This is a newer style of port that is made like some other rosé wine. Its accented with flavors of strawberry, violets, and caramel.

How to Serve Port Wine

Port wine is best served at a cooler temperature. The perfect temperature is when it's just below room temperature or about 60 °F (16 °C). However, during some warmer months or accompanying a meal, this wine is often served over ice with the addition of lime peel.

What Food Should I Pair Port Wine With?

The sweetness of this wine makes it an excellent pairing for dessert. However, many other flavors pair perfectly with port. 

  • Strong tasting cheese like bleu cheese
  • chocolate 
  • caramel based desserts
  • Smoked or salted nuts
  • Smoked meats 
  • Fruit sorbet
  • Salty bites like pickles, olives, or salami cubes
  • Pretzels

The Uniqueness of Port Wine

Even today, traditional port wine is crushed by foot. Yet, that isn't the only thing that makes port wine unique. The grapes that are used in port wine are a unique blend of indigenous grapes. These grapes are often sourced from Tinta Cão, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Barroca. Furthermore, depending on the source of the grapes, each area adds its unique flavor profile. 

Grape Stomping

In Portugal, where traditional port wine is made, the wine ferments after being stopped manually. Many large wineries have an automatic machine that performs the same process. Some wineries continue to use both ways to produce port wine, and some places throughout the world hold festivals to showcase the traditional way of stomping grapes.

Related: How to Make Wine at Home

Special Wine Glass

Port wine is so unique that it has a unique style of glass. Because the serving size is three ounces rather than the usual five ounces, these glasses are short-stemmed round glasses that help ensure the aroma matches the sweetness of the port. 

Do you have a port wine glass? Shop our collection of glassware today.

Using Port Wine in Cooking

Port wine goes great with cheese, but it's also a great addition to chocolate cakes. Yet, its sweet uses go much further. Port can also be used in sauce reductions to top savory dishes or use it to thicken up a sauce like a balsamic glaze. Furthermore, port can also be used as an alternative to brown sugar or maple syrup in some recipes due to its sweet nature. 

Which Port Should You Cook With?

When it comes to sourcing ingredients, also go for the best quality that you can afford. Because most recipes call for a Ruby or Red port, you can often pick up a bottle for between ten and twenty dollars. Although you may not need a lot for your recipe, it will continue to last even once it's opened. Just be sure to refrigerate it.

How Long Does Port Wine Last Once Open?

How long a bottle of port will last once it's open will depend on how you store it and what type it is. A tawny port will stay fresh the longest. You can use a vacuum pump to maximize any wine you open

A tawny port will stay fresh for about a month, whereas ruby tends to keep fresh for about two weeks.

How Long Will Port Cellar?

Port is crafted to age. These wines can last a long time. In fact, a highly-prized port can easily be one hundred years old. Most wine that you pick up at the supermarket is made to be consumed once opened. 

You can quickly tell the difference between a vintage port by its cork. A Vintage port will have a long cork, whereas the generic will have a plastic topped cork style cap. 

Related: How to Open Wine Like A Pro


No matter how you use port, it's a unique wine and not something to miss out on. Whether you pair it with a slice of chocolate cake or use it in a delicious savory sauce, reduction port is a sweet option when it comes to wine. 

Even port needs to breath, Don’t have one? Shop Taste of Purple.

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