We are all creatures of habit and often, the best way to learn new things is to experience them. Wine is no different. We all have our favorites and usually reluctantly try new types. Port is fortified wine that is often only consumed in cold climates, but it is surprisingly pleasant on a summer afternoon, particularly if the port is slightly chilled (to say 18 degrees C).
A fine vintage port is traditionally the port to drink, if it can be afforded, but nowadays the quality of the tawny ports is improving. Worldwide, the percentage of vintage wine produced is reducing, because the demand is falling, and the production of other types, particularly tawny ports are increasing. One reason that the demand is increasing for tawny ports is that consumers are seeing better value.
The restaurant and hotel industry is lagging a little behind the household port choice patterns. They still offer top vintage ports at top prices, whereas customers are looking more to less expensive blended ports, like the tawny ports. Tawny ports are less expensive because they are aged in wood barrels and blended with other vintages to achieve the correct taste. Vintage ports are aged in bottles and not all vintages are good enough to be sold as vintage port.
Tawny ports are not as red as vintage ports and are usually a softer taste. They are aged for at least ten years in wooden barrels and racked (drawn off and placed in to other barrels) regularly to remove sediment. Generally the wine-makers are not looking for a strong wood taste, rather the process of the port coming into contact with air in a port seasoned barrel. The aroma of port is complex and is said to move to a butterscotch, then to a toffee and walnut flavor as the port ages. The cost of the port increase with the aging time. In fact, some forty year tawny ports will cost more than vintage ports.
Colheita ports are processed like tawny ports, except they are not blended and are usually bottled before ten years of aging. They should be consumed soon after bottling.
Try the modern tawny ports sometime, even chilled in summer, and you will most likely be pleased. Use port sippers to sip the fine blends that are available.
For more information on port and items that can be used in the consumption of port go to http://enjoyingport.googlepages.com and for direct access to port related products go to http://tinyurl.com/2p2hnh