Wine styles

Red Port Wine

Tawnies are amber-coloured to brown, and nutty-dried-fruit-figgy in flavour thanks to years of slow, controlled oxidation in large wooden barrels or vats. Colheitas and Aged Tawnies are best served chilled, summer or winter. They might be an aperitif, or drunk at the end of the meal, perhaps with walnuts to nibble. 10 or 20-year-old are the best of all ports for Stilton, and delicious with Portugal’s star cheese, Queijo Serra da Estrela.

Ruby Ports, where the Vintage port is the other top-end style, are redder, firmer, slightly sweeter and fruitier than tawny. You can really taste the sweet ripeness of the hot sun of the Douro Valley in this style of port. There are numerous more modest categories, like Crusted, Late-Bottled Vintage (LBV), Late Bottled, Reserve, Premium Ruby and Ruby. Ruby is best drunk at cool room temperature, and is good with certain cheeses, Queijo Serra da Estrela, Queijo de Azeitão, Cheddar, even strong, unpasteurized Brie in the case of LBV. They are also a good match with bitter chocolate or coffee desserts. The French drink this style of port as an aperitif, the English after the meal – take your pick.

White Port Wine

White ports come in various levels of sweetness. Seco (dry) is actually quite sweet, meio seco (medium dry) pretty sweet, and doce a drink for the seriously sweet of tooth. A new style of port, sweet, fortified and rosé, this is made to drink chilled and neat, or in cocktails. White Ports are drunk as an aperitif, sometimes mixed with tonic, neat on ice, or in cocktails. There are also more expensive, longer-wood-aged versions with a nuttier flavour, also best chilled and served as an aperitif.