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Port Wine

Nutritional Information

1 serving, port wine

  • Calories 373.5
  • Calories from Fat 104.4
  • Amount%DV
  • Total Fat 11.6g18%
  • Saturated Fat 5g25%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
  • Cholestreol 92mg31%
  • Sodium 1640.7mg68%
  • Potassium 0mg0%
  • Total Carbohydrate 8.4g3%
  • Dietary Fiber 1.5g6%
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 52.9g106%
  • Calcium 0mg0%
  • Iron 0mg0%
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin C 0%

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Port Wine on Wikipedia:

For the birthmark, see Port-wine stain. A glass of tawny port

Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto, Porto, and often simply Port) is a Portuguese style of fortified wine originating from the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.[1] It is typically a sweet red wine, often served as a dessert wine, and comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside of Portugal, most notably in Australia, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina, and the United States. Under European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labelled as Port or Porto.[2] Elsewhere, the situation is more complicated: wines labelled ``Port`` may come from anywhere in the world,[3] while the names ``Dao``, ``Oporto``, ``Porto``, and ``Vinho do Porto`` have been recognized as foreign, non-generic names for wines originating in Portugal.[4]

Port is produced from grapes grown and processed in the demarcated Douro region.[5] The wine produced is then fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as Aguardente in order to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content. The fortification spirit is sometimes referred to as Brandy but it bears little resemblance to commercial Brandies. The wine is then stored and aged, often in barrels stored in a cave (pronounced ``ka-ve`` and meaning ``cellar`` in Portuguese) as is the case in Vila Nova de Gaia, before being bottled. The wine received its name, ``Port``, in the latter half of the 17th century from the seaport city of Porto at the mouth of the Douro River, where much of the product was brought to market or for export to other countries in Europe. The Douro valley where Port wine is produced was defined and established as a protected region, or appellation in 1756 — making it the third oldest defined and protected wine region in the world after Chianti (1716) and Tokaji (1730).

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The Douro River Valley: growth and production

The vineyards that produce Port wine are common along the hillsides that flank the valley of the River Douro in northern Portugal

The reaches of the valley of the Douro River in northern Portugal have a microclimate that is optimal for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes important for making the famous Port wine. The region around Pinhão and São João da Pesqueira is considered to be the centre of Port production, and is known for its picturesque quintas—farms clinging on to almost vertical slopes dropping down to the river.

Wine regions

The demarcation of the Douro River Valley includes a broad swath land of pre-Cambrian schist and granite. Beginning around the village of Barqueiros (located about 40 miles (about 70 km) upstream from Porto), the valley extends eastward nearly to the Spanish border. The region is protected from the influences of the Atlantic Ocean by the Serra do Marão mountains. The area is sub-divided into 3 official zones-the Baixo (lower) Corgo, the Cima (higher) Corgo and the Douro Superior.[6]

Baixo Corgo-The westernmost zone located downstream from the river Corgo, centered on the municipality of Peso da Régua. This region is the wettest Port production zone, receiving an average of 900 mm, and has the coolest average temperature of the three zones. The grapes grown here are used mainly for the production of inexpensive ruby and tawny Ports.[6] Cima Corgo-Located further upstream from the Baixo Corgo, this region is centered on the town of Pinhão (municipality of Alijó). The summertime average temperature of the regions are a few degrees higher and rainfall is about 200 mm less. The grapes grown in this zone are considered of higher quality, being used in bottlings of vintage and Late Bottled Vintage Ports.[6] Douro Superior-The easternmost zone extending nearly to the Spanish border. This is the least cultivated region of Douro, due in part to the difficulties of navigating the river past the rapids of Cachão da Valeira. This is the most arid and warmest region of the Douro. The overall terrain is relatively flat with the potential for mechanization.[6]

Grapes

See also: List of Port wine grapes

Over a hundred varieties of grapes (castas) are sanctioned for Port production, although only five (Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional) are widely cultivated and used.[7] Although Touriga Nacional is the most celebrated Port grape, the difficulty of growing it and its small yields result in Touriga Francesa being the most widely-planted variety within the Douro.[7] White ports are produced the same way as red ports, except that they use white grapes—Esgana-Cão, Folgasão, Malvasia, Rabigato, Verdelho, and Viosinho. While a few shippers have experimented with Ports produced from a single variety of grapes, all Ports commercially available are from a blend of different grapes. Since the Phylloxera crisis, most vines are grown on grafted rootstock, with the notable exception of the Nacional area of Quinta do Noval, which, since being planted in 1925, has produced some of the most expensive commonly available Ports.

Grapes grown for Port are generally characterised by their small, dense fruit which produce concentrated and long-lasting flavours, suitable for long aging. While the grapes used to produce Port produced in Portugal are strictly regulated by the Instituto do Vinho do Porto, wines from outside this region which describe themselves as Port may be made from other varieties.

Transport

Whilst Port is produced from grapes grown in the Douro valley, until 1986 it could only be exported from Portugal from Vila Nova de Gaia near Porto, Portugal's second-largest city.[5] Traditionally, the wine was taken downriver in flat-bottom boats called barcos rabelos,[8] to be processed and stored.[8] However, in the 1950s and 1960s, several hydroelectric power dams were built along the river, ending this traditional conveyance down the river. Currently, the wine is transported from the vineyards by tanker trucks and the barcos rabelos are only used for racing and other displays.

Properties

Port wine is typically richer, sweeter, heavier, and possesses a higher alcohol content than most other wines. This is caused by the addition of distilled grape spirits (aguardente similar to brandy) to fortify the wine and halt fermentation before all the sugar is converted to alcohol and results in a wine that is usually either 19.5% or 20% alcohol.

Port is commonly served after meals as a dessert wine, often with cheese; commonly stilton. White and tawny ports are often served as an apéritif.

Styles

Different port wines with corresponding colour Aging in wooden barrels

Port from Portugal comes in several styles, which can be divided into two broad categories:

Wines that have matured in sealed glass bottles, with no exposure to air, and experience what is known as ``reductive`` aging. This process leads to the wine losing its colour very slowly and produces a wine which is smoother on the palate and less tannic. Wines that have matured in wooden barrels, whose permeability allows a small amount of exposure to oxygen, and experience what is known as ``oxidative`` aging. They too lose colour, but at a faster pace. If red grapes are used, in time the red colour lightens to a tawny colour - these are known as Tawny (or sometimes Wood) ports. They also lose volume to evaporation (