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Farah’s Guide to Enjoying Port Part 2: Serving and Storing

Farah’s Guide to Enjoying Port Part 2: Serving and Storing

We hope you enjoyed our previous blog reviewing Port styles 101 - now we will deep dive into what’s most important to consider for each before, during and after popping your next bottle.

Serving Port - Glassware

While cordial glasses might look and feel more fun and appropriate to sip, say an old Tawny or Vintage, Port really shines brighter in a tulip-shaped glass. The famous Portuguese architect Siza Viera actually designed a specific Port glass in 2001 - its smaller size fits Port’s standard 3 oz pour (that’s half a 5-6 oz red or white wine pour) and its tulip shape helps concentrate Port’s full aromatic complexity towards the nose. 

However, a normal 8-10 oz white wine glass does an equal, if not better, job. Some Port aficionados argue the larger bowl allows the taster greater swirling capacity to release more aromas and a wider “screen” to appreciate the Port’s color through.

Tedo Port Glasses

Portuguese architect Siza Viera's famous Port glass shape

Serving Port - Temperature

Serve Tawnies chilled (55-59°F) to enhance their more nuanced and elegant aged character. Serve Rubies, Vintages and LBVs at 60-64°F (slightly below room temperature); their slightly more muscular structure can feel aggressive at lower temperatures. 

Tawny Ports have already aged for significant time in contact with oxygen so they do not go through “oxygen shock” and can remain open for 2-3 months without spoiling. Having been exposed to less oxygen during aging, Rubies retain their freshness after opening for slightly less time (3-4 weeks) than Tawnies.

“Both Tawnies’ and Rubies’ longevity once opened makes them perfect to enjoy everyday by the glass after dinner with dessert, or as dessert” says Quinta do Tedo owner Kay Bouchard. 

As LBVs and Vintages are exposed to less oxygen during aging than Rubies and Tawnies, they spoil sooner upon opening. LBVs should be enjoyed within 1-2 weeks while Vintages, which are typically opened for celebrations or special occasions that amass enough people to share their delicious splendor in good company, should be consumed within a day or two.

As a rule of thumb, the older the Port (or any wine for that matter) the more fragile it is and the quicker it should be enjoyed upon opening (that shouldn’t be hard!)

Like all perishable foods and beverages, once opened, Port should be kept in the fridge where the cooler temperature will delay chemical processes like oxidation that will eventually flatten and dull an opened bottle.

Serving Port Wine

Serving Port - Decanting

If serving an old Vintage (40+ years), stand the bottle upright for an hour before decanting to let the sediment (aka the color and tannin molecules that “fall out” of the Port as it ages) accumulate at the bottom before opening and slowly pouring into a wide-based, thin-necked decanter until you reach the sediment.

Don’t feel bad about leaving behind one tenth of a Vintage bottle; the sediment is harmless, but will muddle the ethereal flavors and textures of our focus - the Port.

If you’re not a numbers person, just remember:

  1. Serve young White and Rosé Ports straight from the fridge
  2. Remove from the fridge and, in some cases, decant Ruby, LBV and Vintage Ports before dinner
  3. Take Tawnies, old White Ports and Colheitas out of the fridge just before dessert

You’ll probably sit with a glass of Port for 20-30 minutes which gives you time to experience its evolution in your glass as it warms and opens up. You might pick up more primary fruit and floral aromas at first and more tertiary, spicy and savory aromas with time.

Port Bottle

Storing Port - Temperature, location, position & time

White, Rosé, Tawny and Ruby Ports are often bottled with a t-cap (a cork fit with a plastic or wooden top that’s easy to open and close again), pre-aged at the Quinta and made for immediate consumption so they most likely wont benefit from further bottle aging.

Storting Port- Time 

Vintage (and some unfiltered LBV) Ports are unfiltered, bottled with a driven cork and meant to age in bottle for 10-50+ years during which their concentrated flavors, tannins and color will evolve to perfection.

To filter, lightly filter, or not filter LBVs is the producer’s stylistic decision, depending on whether they deem the Port worthy of further bottle aging. Either way, unfiltered LBVs will probably say so on the bottle. 

Storing Port - Position

Finally, remember to store your bottles in a dark, cool place and on their sides to ensure the cork is always in contact with liquid and doesn’t dry out. 

Love Port? Check out our collection of artisan Port wines, from Rubies to Tawnies to Port rosé!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Odile Bouchard

Hi! I'm Odile; I am half-French, half-American and grew up between Burgundy, Napa Valley and Tuscany - wine and travel run deep in my veins. My family owns Quinta do Tedo in the Douro Valley, one of Farah Trading Co's favorite producers!

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