Making white Port wineThe grapes for white Port wine must come from the Duoro region of Portugal, and a great many different varieties are permitted. These grapes are generally not household names internationally. A typical white Port wine could contain such varieties as Arinto, Codega, Gouveio, Viosinho, Rabigato and Boal. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of any of these grapes - they clearly don’t have the worldwide recognition of Sauvignon Blanc! As a fortified wine, the production of white Port includes halting alcoholic fermentation. This fermentation transforms natural grape sugars into alcohol, so when it is interrupted the resulting wine retains some of this sugar and can taste sweet. Interrupting the fermentation is achieved by “fortification”, where the winemaker adds a highly alcoholic neutral grape spirit to the wine. What remains is a wine that is high in both sugar and alcohol. Drier white Port wine is produced by allowing the alcoholic fermentation to go on for longer and thus transform more of the sugar into alcohol.
How should you drink white Port wine?You can serve and drink white Port in a number of ways, which may go some way to explaining the confusion about what it is!
- A glass of white Port by itself can be delightful. After a meal or just on its own on a winter’s evening. It is one of life’s simpler pleasures.
- White Port can be enjoyed with food, much in the same way as red Port. Sweeter white Port wines are fantastic dessert wines to accompany all sorts of sweet desserts and cheeses. Drier styles have a complexity and nuttiness to rival bone dry Sherry, and are a particularly good match for nuts such as almonds.
White Port cocktails are very popular, and white Port wine can form the basis for many popular, delicious cocktails, such as:
- White Port Manhattan: Equal parts sweet white Port wine and bourbon, a splash each of Angostura bitters and orange bitters. Stir it up and put a cherry on top, and enjoy! Using a sweet wine here helps to offset the woody spicy dryness of the bourbon.
- White Port and Tonic: Forget the gin. Take one part dry white Port wine to two parts good quality Tonic water, ice and a garnish of lemon or mint to taste.