Vintage Roots' Selection of Organic and Biodynamic Wines


Port is one of the most famous dessert wines on the planet. Most of us have tried this rich, sweet wine a few times and found it to be absolutely delicious. It's higher in alcohol, and more viscous than traditional red wines, which makes it the perfect option for sipping and relaxing at the end of a meal.

You may have tried the wine, but do you know how to drink port? Do you know how is port made? How about opening or decanting port? Do you know how long does port last once opened? All good questions, which we will answer below.

We are happy to walk you through port wine, and we'll teach you everything you need to know about this amazing fortified wine…

What is Port Wine?​

Let's start off with the most important question: "What is port wine?"

Port wine is a sweet, rich red wine that is made in Portugal. In fact, it's only made in the Douro Valley. It is often called a "dessert wine" due to its extra sweet flavour, but different styles can be drunk as aperitifs as well as after a meal.

What does it taste like?

This will vary depending on the style, but all Port has a few common flavours. For the most part, port wine has strong berry flavours: raspberries, blackberries, and prunes.

However, some of the other common port flavours include:​

  • Chocolate
  • Dried fruits
  • Cinnamon
  • Nuts

However, if the port is allowed to age, you'll find there is an even wider array of flavours, including but not limited to: green peppercorn, hazelnut, figs, almond, and butterscotch.

Pairing Port with Food

port wine and cheese

Port pairs wonderfully with stronger cheeses, such as Stilton. The richer-flavoured cheeses—like washed-rind cheese or blue cheese—bring out the sweetness of the port wine, and the berry flavours will enhance the cheese flavours without overpowering it.

A small chunk of Stilton, a mince pie and a glass of Port is an unbeatable combination.

Another great way to pair port with food is to serve it with smoked, salted, or roasted nuts. The nuttiness of the port, particularly tawnies, makes for a gorgeous combination of flavours. Any desserts made with chocolate and caramel will be a good option for pairing with port.

All About Port

People ask us, "What is port made from? Surely it can't be typical wine if it's so strong!"

That much is true. When you look into how is port made, you'll find that it's a wine that has brandy added during fermentation. This gives it a higher alcohol content and more body. The brandy also stops the fermentation process, ensuring that the port retains a lot of its natural sweetness.

Port is made using a unique blend of grapes native to Portugal. There are up to 52 grape varieties used to make port, with the most common being:

  • Touriga Franca
  • Touriga Nacional
  • Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo)
  • Tinta Barroca
  • Tinta Cão

The addition of these multiple varieties of grapes lends a wide variety of flavours to the port. Some grapes bring the berry flavours, while others emphasise the chocolate, fig, or cinnamon flavours. By mixing in more grapes, port-makers are able to add a lot of variety to their wines.

Types of Port Wine

When you search through the list of organic ports we offer, you'll find that we have a few different types of port: Reserve, Tawny and Vintage. Some producers even make white and pink versions now!​

  • White Port is usually a lighter type of port, made with white grapes. Common flavours include citrus peel, roasted nuts, baked apple, and apricot. There is less sweetness to this type of port, and it isn't aged for as long.
  • Rosé Port has much stronger berry flavours: strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry sauce. It usually has a delicious jammy note that gives it a bit more sweetness than white port, but it's not as rich as tawny or ruby port.
  • Tawny Port is darker than rose port, and gets its name and colour from extended ageing in wooden casks before being bottled. It has mellow flavours of caramel, cloves, cinnamon, hazelnut, fig, and prune.
  • Ruby Port is the least expensive style, usually aged for two – three years in vat before being bottled and sold ready to drink.
  • Reserve Port is the next step up from Ruby, and has deep flavours: raspberries, blackberries, chocolate, and cinnamon. This is the type of wine you want to enjoy slowly. It is aged for at least three years before release.
  • Vintage Port is the most expensive Port, made in tiny quantities from the best grapes, and only in the very best years. It is aged for two years before being released, but can improve for decades in bottle.​

How to Drink Port

If you want to know how to drink port, you've come to the right place!

We recommend serving Tawny and Reserve Port at just below room temperature, around 10-16 C. This temperature will help to bring out the sweetness and flavours of the dark red wine, but just chilled enough that the alcohol is not overpowering.

For Rosé and White Port, you want to go a bit colder: 4-10 C. These lighter ports are better enjoyed very cold. In Portugal White Port is often enjoyed with tonic as an aperitif.

With Port, you don’t need to take a big mouthful at a time. Those who want to know how to drink port need to approach it like a fine brandy: with small sips. You want just enough that you get those delicious fruity and berry flavours. 

A full 750ml bottle could serve up to 10 people, which is why we offer half bottles of the Finest Reserve Port.

Small sips, and make sure to savour each one!

How Long Does Port Last?

Many people ask us: "How long does port last once opened? Does port go off more quickly than other wines, due to its extra sugar and alcohol content?"

Most wines will go off within a few days (up to a week with some red wines) of opening, but port can last for much longer, depending on the style. Vintage Ports are best consumed within a few days, but Reserve and Tawnies should last a few weeks in the fridge.

To keep your ports good for longer, store them in a cool, dark place. Use a vacuum preserver to remove oxygen from the bottle before re-corking—it will make the wine last longer!

Ageing Port

The beauty of port wine is that it can age much better than regular red wine. The best Vintage Ports can be aged for many decades in bottle, while Tawny and Reserve Ports will keep, but are designed to be drunk immediately, having been aged by the producer.

The ageing process will soften the tannins, and gradually the rich, dark aromas of the fruits and berries will give way to dried fruit and nut flavours.

Cooking with Port Wine

Cooking with wine is a great way to add the rich, fruity flavours of wine to your meals. With port, you want to use it primarily for sauces in savoury and sweet dishes. You can make rich, gooey chocolate sauces to serve with cake.

Alternatively, for those who want to make a delicious red wine reduction to serve with red meat such as venison, port makes an excellent alternative. The higher sugar content of port means it reduces into a thicker consistency than red wine, one with stronger fruit flavours. It's a great way to bring a brightness and sweetness to your meat dishes.

For cooking, we believe Ruby or Reserve Port is your best choice. You can find affordable Ruby Port wines that will bring the red fruits, berries, and cinnamon flavours to your meals.

Our Recommendations

Port is one of our favourite wines, and it’s definitely not just for Christmas! We're pleased to offer a wide selection of organic Ports.

We've looked through our list to find the ones we think you'd enjoy most. Here are our top three choices of the best port wine:​

This is a Reserve Port with strong flavours of figs, fruitcake, and prunes. It's ideal for cooking with, or to sip at the end of a meal, or with cheese.

Casal Jordoes Finest Reserve Port

Casal Jordoes Finest Reserve Port

If you want something a bit more upmarket, this Vintage Port from an outstanding year is rich, flavourful, and deep. The intense flavours of black fruits, ginger biscuits, cloves, dark chocolates, and nutmeg make this the perfect digestif. Delicious now, but will keep for many years.

Casal Jordoes Vintage Port 2011

Casal Jordoes Vintage Port 2011

Due to longer ageing in wood, this port isn't as dark or thick as the above two, but it has soft, jammy flavours and a savoury note. It's a full-bodied port that ages beautifully and makes for the perfect pairing with nuts.​

Casal Jordoes Tawny Port

Port is truly one of the most unique of the wines, and one you'd do well to add to your wine cellar. Look through our full range of organic Ports to see what takes your fancy.

We've got something for every taste!

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