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Port Wine Tasting Part 2

Posted: 11/01/14

Port Wine Tasting Part 2

Restaurant: Porto Portugal

Nelson #Port: We were still waiting for the tour to begin so of course we just stopped at the next location, Quinta do Noval for some more Port tasting. From left to right is a 20 year Tawny (6.50€), 10 year (3.50€), Fine Ruby (2.50€), and a fine white (2.50€).

Let's start with the white, which we learned must be served chilled. This one tasted just like a normal white wine except really really sweet. It was ok, but I wouldn't see myself ordering this one again.

Next up is the Ruby, which is not barreled and instead rests for two years to settle. The smell was really fragrant and not surprisingly it also had a really strong taste but without a strong alcoholic sharpness.

The crackers they provide were the most plain and dry crackers I have ever had in my life. They were perfect to cleanse the palate, but you would never want to eat them otherwise.

As Tawnys age, they get lighter and lighter. A really high quality one will be very light in colour but start extremely dark. This 10 year was quite good and my favourite here so far with a sweet pleasant taste typical of port wines.

But the 20 year was noticeably better. It may be hard to see in the picture, but the colour is much more transparent with a brownish tint instead of an opaque red colour. This was my favourite by far with the same amount of sweetness at the ten year, but with the alcohol taste seemingly gone. Delicious.

Finally the tour at Ramos Pinto was ready and we enjoyed learning about the making of port and all the different types of port. Surprisingly a large section of the tour was devoted to the marketing of Port which was important throughout history in popularizing the drink. Of course the highlight of the tour was the cellar with rows upon rows of barrels full of port filled the cavernous space.
Ok, I lied, the real highlight of the tour is the tasting at the end. We got to try two, a white and a ruby. Check out those legs!!! The Porto White was sweet and not that dry unsurprisingly. I really liked the colour of this one, looking like honey in a glass. The thick legs help with the illusion.

On the right is the Porto Ruby, also with nice legs. Ruby Ports are aged in huge wooden vats keeping the natural fruitiness of the grape intact. They are also typically redder than tawny ports which are typically more brown in colour. They generally don't get better with age and therefore are usually drunk soon after bottling. Most of the inexpensive ports are usually rubies. This one I found was very dry and I couldn't taste much sweetness or not the sweetness I was expecting. It wasn't very smooth either. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to try some of their better quality ports and I can't really be a good judge of their wines based solely on the sample ones provided.

We signed up for another tour (5€), this time at Sandeman. They have an iconic logo called the Don who is mysterious caped figure with a Spanish hat. Now you may think this figure is familiar but this was BEFORE the Zorro character was popularized. Instead I suspect the artist drew some inspiration from University students in Portugal who are required to earn and wear capes. We were there during frosh week and happened to see many examples of caped students. Our tour guide was also dressed up in cape and hat which made for an entertaining tour. In this picture you can see the smaller barrels where they age Port and the large barrels used for Ruby Ports on the right.
But of course the best part is the Port tasting at the end. On the left is the Porto White which is a medium white port. It is dry and acidic which isn't to my liking and I felt not as good as others I have had. If you like dry wines yet still want some of that sweetness that is associated with port, this would be a good choice. Otherwise if you are like me, you will dislike it.

Lastly is the Porto tawny 8 years. This was surprisingly served slightly chilled. It went great with cheese and lent its own distinct flavour. It was quite decent, but I felt it tasted more like a ruby than a tawny when I compared it to the experience I had had so far in day.

Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to try any of their better Port Wines and surely they must have been better than the ones we tasted at the end of the tour. I must give credit to their brilliant marketing, but if only their product, or at least the ones we tried, tasted better.

The grapes used in Port Wine production are from a demarcated region in the Douru valley. Like Champagne, only wine produced from the region is allowed to be called Champagne/Port. The valley is very far from the coast where it is aged in barrels, so how did they transport it all that distance? By a boat called rabelos which has a special wide flat bottom that maximizes the transportation of barrels. They are very graceful looking and although no longer used today, they make for a beautiful showcase as part of the beautiful city of Porto. We had such a fun time in Porto, so it was a good thing we had one more day here! Stayed tuned for even more Port tastings!!


Categories: Dessert,  Drinks,  Portuguese,  

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