I Love White Ports in Summer
Recently while shopping for spirits, I found several White Ports on the shelf. I instantly purchased it for several reasons:
- I had not seen one in a long time,
- It’s exceptionally tasty, and
- It works perfect for sipping during dessert time and sunsets.
If you have never heard of it before, or had the opportunity to try it, you need to purchase a bottle. It’s an amazing experience.
What is White Port?
White Port is a fortified wine made in Portugal, traditionally using white grapes. Before I move forward, let me define what a fortified wine is:
- A Fortified wine is a wine during fermentation where a neutral spirit is added to the fermenting must (aka -Grape juice).
This spirit ‘fortifies’ the wine to a high alcohol level (16.5-20 % on average). The high level of alcohol kills the yeast, stopping fermentation. This leaves residual sugars along with fresh aromas and fruit flavors. Since the wine is fortified, the bottle will last a long time as the high alcohol prevents spoilage. This makes it versatile as it does not all have to be consumed immediately.
Why Drink it?
I was exposed to White Port when I was taking classes for my Sommelier Certification. I had read about it during my studies but was able to try it in class. I instantly fell in love with it. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I’ve always loved dessert wines (which have some residual sugar). However, this was completely different with its freshness and enticing aroma.
I purchased a bottle years ago that I used for cooking and sipping on. However, there are a number of reasons why you would drink this:
For myself, it’s all about relaxation and enjoyment. Think about it this way. If I pour myself a glass and sit on my patio watching a great sunset, then I’m deliberately slowing down and focusing on the moment. That alone makes it worthwhile to take the time out.
A Few Tips to Enjoy More
In order to enjoy a glass of White Port, there are a few things that are needed.
First of all, is being able to find a bottle of it. White Port is not necessarily rare but it’s hard to find. Your regular stores most likely will not carry it. My suggestion would be one of two actions:
- Check with a well-stocked liquor store that has a great selection of products to see if they carry it (in most cases, they may only have one or two).
- If they do not, see if they are willing to order you a bottle.
I was able to find this bottle at the LCBO store in Ontario on a recent visit. However, I know that none of the shops where I live will have it. This is the time when I travel that I will stop in large stores in different areas to check their selection.
Once you are able to find a bottle, then I worry about glassware. In my pictures, you can see that I used a small ‘Aperitif’ style glass. This works fine or you can purchase Port glasses (which are next on my bucket list). If you do not want to go to the expense of purchasing glasses, I recommend either a ‘Rocks’ glass or small wine glass. Please remember that this is sweet and only a 2-3 oz pour is needed.
Lastly, you will want to chill down the Port. This can be done by adding ice to it like I’ve mentioned in a previous article. However, if I have the time and fridge space, I will chill down the bottle and then pour a sample. Most times, I pour a warm sample and use my whiskey stones to get a slight chill on it.
The goal is to serve the port between 42 – 50 F. The colder it is, you may be missing some of the fresher aromas and flavors. Too warm and the acid and sweetness will be pronounced and not in balance with everything else.
Fonseca is a Port House with a long-standing history of quality. Therefore, as soon as I saw their label, I did not hesitate to purchase this. Once I had chilled the bottle down, I opened it and poured a small sample to try. Please note, it’s been at least 5 years since I’ve had a white port. From the first sniff of the aroma, I had a huge smile on my face. Instantly, I had fond memories of the last time I sampled a port, and the aromas immediately brought me back to that time.
- You will instantly notice what I call a tickle in your sinuses. This is the higher alcohol levels that you are detecting that cause this (it’s quite normal).
- After this, I was greeted with creamy apple/peach/nectarine aromas with a hint of mace, nutmeg, thyme, and mint.
- All that crossed my mind constantly was peaches and cream.
- The first thoughts I had were of caramelized oranges. It reminded me of Crepes Suzette from the citrus tones.
- This is followed by fresh ripe Honeycrisp apples with tangerines, blood oranges and cantaloupe.
- Laying underneath this are more apple varieties and peaches.
- The port has great levels of acidity that help to produce saliva to rinse your palate clean. This refreshes you for the next sample especially when paired with food.
- It has been stored in oak giving it some wood tannins along with low grape tannins.
- It’s medium on the sweetness level. This is why ports pair well with desserts as the sweetness levels in the port and food tend to cancel each other out.
- This is a full-bodied wine that has great structure and is quite refreshing.
This is a great port for two reasons. One, it has beautiful characteristics which make it approachable for first time White Port drinkers. You will be able to smell and taste everything that it shows. Two, the price is great. At $19.95 Canadian, this was a great price to start your journey and get a quality product. There are better Ports out there, but I recommend this one.
Peaches are finally coming into the stores that are not baseballs. I picked up some, peeled and pitted them and cut them into slices. These I sauteed in browned butter with a dash of cinnamon, a hint of fresh ground black pepper (try it – trust me), and a splash of brandy for the fire effect. I tossed a few of the slices and the tasty juice over ice cream. I poured myself a glass of chilled port and relaxed. I would have sat on the porch, but it was raining.
The next time you head to the store, look for White Port. This is a great bottle to have that is versatile and you will love. I plan to get another bottle soon to have for the Holidays (yes – Christmas is coming).