Port Wines

A Sweet New Taste for Investors

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The market for, and appreciation of, port wine is growing beyond traditional markets. As yet, speculators have not yet driven up the prices of the best vintages like they have in the market for French wines.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • All port wines mature for two years in large vats. A ruby port, which may contain several vintages, is bottled immediately after that.
    • Tawny ports are put into small barrels after the vats, where they lighten through oxidation and develop a nutty aroma. The name derives from its characteristic color, ranging from auburn to amber. The highest quality grade is a Vintage Tawny, also called Colheita.
    • Vintage ports are the best of ports. Only one to three harvests per decade make the grade. A vintage port is only ready to drink after 12 years in  a bottle, at minimum. It can mature for decades, during which it gains aromatic density and complexity.
    • The acronym, LBV, stands for a Late Bottled Vintage port. Various vintages are bottled together, after four to six years in large wooden vats, and are suitable for immediate consumption.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Portugal, Douro Valley, Pinhao. Portuguese women pick grapes during the september wine harvest in Northern Portugal in the renowned Douro valley. The valley was the first demarcated and controlled winemaking region in the world. It is particularly famous f
Portuguese women pick grapes during harvest season in the Douro valley, renowned for its port makers. Source: Getty Images

In Georgian England, port was the tipple of choice, both in polite society and in the literature of the time. Nineteenth-century gentlemen wearing high, white cravats would drink port after a stroll in a well-manicured park, and of course, when they were at their gentlemen’s club. Fine ladies in poorly heated country houses, exhausted after countless wardrobe changes, rounds of picnicking and cricket, would – after a port or two – fling themselves into said gentlemen’s embrace.

Port figured large among the authors of the time. Charles Dickens had cheap port wine favored by those in the underworld. “Bring Port wine!,” growls the murderer Rigaud in “Little Dorrit,” “I’ll drink nothing but Porto-Porto.” Another novelist William Thackeray imagines local clerics indulging in port. “You would fancy that a parson’s life was passed in gorging himself with plum-pudding and port-wine,” he wrote in his 1848 collection of satirical essays “A Book of Snobs.”

Which is why it seems a little odd that the French have now overtaken the British as aficionados of the sweet spirit.

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