Today I am going to tell you a little bit more about the delicious Portuguese wines, also known as ‘Porto’.
The history of Porto’s wines, known as port, could well have started with the arrival of the Romans in these lands, who first introduced grape-growing all over the area.
With time these wines would acquire great prestige, and in the 14th century, they were already exported to countries like England. However, to really speak about the port wines, we must wait until the 17th century, when British merchants discovered, it is thought by chance, the production technique based on interrupting the process of fermentation by adding neutral brandy.
From 1703 and until 1757, the signature of the Treaty of Methuen gave the English the monopoly of practically all the wine trade. For this reason, it is very frequent to hear that port wines are as much English as they are Portuguese, a theory reinforced when you read words like Vintage, Tawny, Crusted or Ruby on the labels. Some even say that its taste is more English than Portuguese.
In spite of this, nobody can question that port wines are a genuine product of Portugal, They are produced in the Regiao Demarcada do Douro, the first designation of origin in wine history, are kept in the wineries of Vila Nova de Gaia – until 1986 the cellars could only be in that locality – and only Porto companies can export them, this being indispensable condition for obtaining of Regiao Demarcada do Douro label.
Port wines may be white or red, aged in barrels or in bottles. The most commonly used grapes are, for red wine, the Portuguese touriga nacional, tinta cão, tinta barroca, tinta rorix and the French touriga francesa, while for the white wines, malvasia fina, codega and malvasia rei predominate.
Brought to the wineries of Vila Nova de Gaia, the wine is put in pipas, large barrels with an average capacity of 550 liters, and brandy is added to fulfill the conditions required by the Instituto de Vinho do Porto (IVP).
Once the aging process is complete, port wine is ready for consumption.
The most popular are Ruby, a fruit young red with a ruby colour, Tawny, aged a minimum of three year in barrels, LBV (Late Bottled Vintage), with its strong flavour and very dark colour and, particularly, Vintage, wines made from the finest grapes, with a ageing period between ten and fifteen years.
For many years, port wines were transported from the area of the vineyards to the wineries of Vila Nova in boats called rabelos. The rabelo is a boat from the Douro with a large oar used as a rudder and two smaller oars on either side. With time, they became larger in size and a sail was added. With the arrival of trains and lorries, the rabelos lost the privilege of being the only adequate means of transport for the barrels. The few boats you can see today operate as tourist attractions whilst paying tribute to those earlier times.
And now, which one do you choose? I go for the RUBY!! 🙂