• Two Thumbs Way Up
• It has aromas of dried apricots, toffee, potpourri, cinnamon and toasted walnuts. It offers an amazing array of flavors, such as brown sugar, cloves, dried orange peel, honeycomb, cling peach, preserved lemons and Mexican chocolate.
I used to hate Port wine (more correctly Port-style wine). After years of intense psychotherapy (and my introduction to Port-style wine that had not been opened and stored next to an oven for a couple years), I’ve come full circle. I love Port-style wine, especially Port-style wine from Oporto, Portugal (the official dessert wine of the Department of Redundancy Department).
Without going into the book-length details, Port-style wines take their cues from the fortified wines made in the Douro River Valley of northern Portugal and marketed the world over from Oporto, the breathtaking city at the mouth the Douro where true Port takes its name.
Port enthusiasts will dicker, but Port-style wines only come in two flavors: tawny and ruby. Rubies, which are more commonly emulated by winemakers outside of Portugal, have the intoxicating flavor of the best chocolate-covered cherry you ever put into your mouth. Tawny Ports, which are not emulated so readily because they require far too much time and effort, suggest liquefied toasted almonds and golden raisins steeped in honey and brown sugar.
I used to consider myself more of a ruby guy. That is until my most recent trip to Oporto and the Douro, where I enjoyed a bevy of delectable tawnies. I discovered on the trip that among my many faults, it turns out that I also served my tawnies a tad too warm.
While several service temperature charts suggest something a little warmer, tawnies need to be about 45 to 50 degrees, even the special colheitas and 40-year-old versions. The lower temperature takes the edge off the 18-plus percent alcohol to reveal the ethereal, floral, honeycomb qualities within. Slightly chilled tawnies also make for better partners with room-temperature blue cheeses, salty/creamy/nutty hard cheeses (manchego, asiago and pecorino romano), almond macaroons and plain, ol’ toasted almonds.
(Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from thumbs down, one thumb mostly up, one thumb up, two thumbs up, two thumbs way up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.)