There is no drink that defines Christmas better than a glass of port, even better a bottle of port. Port helps to dissipate the feeling of eating too much. The sweet taste cuts through the fat of the food. Port is a fortified wine developed in the Douro Valley in the northern part of Portugal. Created before the days of preservatives, artisans mixed the wine with a local spirit to stop it from going sour on long sea journeys.
It is the drink that finishes a day of drinking. Port goes down well to celebrate the end of the long Christmas preparations made while sitting in front of the television. A good port-wine, like a dessert wine, should be sweet-tasting, with a gentle undertone of acidity.
There are too many port-wines to choose from and far too many to list them all. We have had a few glasses to get in the festive mood and to find the best Christmas Port.
Marks and Spencer is the best place to get Christmas drinks for great-value. Warre based in the Pinhao Valley, to the east of Porto in Portugal, was founded in 1670. Since it has gone on to be one of the great wine houses of the world. The port is made from the grapes harvested from the Quinta da Cavadinha vineyard, the biggest in the estate.
Single Quinta Vintage port refers to using the estate’s wines from non-declared years, hence the reason there is no year on the bottle. This is an exceptional bottle of port from a historic winemaker. The gentle taste and smell of this port make it difficult to stop once the bottle is opened. It will make a great gift for your father-in-law at Christmas. The bottle rests in a fine wooden box and adds weight to a present. The label is simple with deep contour and texture, giving it the feel of a rare bottle.
This Late Bottled Vintage from 2012 is made from 6-different grape varieties. The wine carries rich flavours and a smooth taste, similar to that of berries and chocolate. The grapes are handpicked to ensure a consistent acidity when fermenting. Fermentation takes from 4 to 6 years before it is bottled, depending on when the wine is ready. Other fortified wines are bottled before the first 2-years are reached. Because of this long sitting time, the sediment has time to fall to the bottom of the casks.
This wine-port has very little sediment in it and can be consumed without decanting. This classic port is finished off with a cork for that satisfying pop’ on opening. The price reflects the time taken to make the port, but you can taste the difference. If you can afford to buy it along with the rest of the Christmas drinks, it is worth a try.
One of the most recognizable port brands around, Taylor’s has been making exceptional port since 1692. This 40-year-old port is a fine choice for the connoisseur wishing to take occasional enjoyment from drinking or sharing. The price of this bottle will limit the audience that will make the investment, but there is something special about this wine. To make a bottle of good tawny-wine, it needs to be aged in a wooden cask for up to eight years. The cask absorbs a lot of the tannins from the wine, removing most of the bitterness and sediment.
In this way, the wine is allowed to oxidize and reduce to a tawny-colour. This lends the port a smooth taste and a much clearer appearance than other ports. What is left is a drink that tastes of Christmas with nuts, coffee, and spice. A fantastic port that will go well with desserts and round off the Christmas meal. If you can open a bottle and keep some for the following years, this is the port to choose. That is going to be a difficult task considering this is a half-bottle.
For parties that never end, there is no reason to spend hundreds on a rare vintage bottle. There are perfectly of good ports at reasonable prices, that you can pour generous portions without going for broke. This is a Christmas port for sharing when the desserts have all gone. A blend of 2007 and 2008 wines to give the flavour some depth and heritage, similar to some of the more expensive ports.
A hint of berries and spice. There is enough taste to cut through strong cheeses and creams. A Portuguese fortified wine from the Douro region, the same area as Warre and Taylor, there is no reason to think this is less of a port. This can make a less expensive present, but ideally, it would form part of the Christmas shopping to share with friends.
Verdict: Which is the best Luxury Port?
For the best port, the Taylors 40-Year-Old Tawny is by far the best. It is the brand with the longest heritage, the vintage is exceptional, and the taste is the smoothest you can find. However, this is a very expensive and small bottle of port that would only work as a present. The Selfridge’s own brand is good for parties and could even be excellent for cooking and adding to the centre of a roll of stilton. Warre’s Late Bottled Vintage Port sits in the middle ground. Though Warre’s still sits on the side of a little too expensive to buy on top of all the Christmas goods.
Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha Vintage Port is reasonable in price, has a great taste, and comes in a wonderful presentation box. For a present or for sharing with friends and family. The Warre’s Single offers the best taste and presentation for the cost. Of the other food and drink consumed at Christmas time, there is no point in buying the most expensive bottle out there. Making others happy by sharing a bottle of the Quinta Vintage is the best gift you can give to yourself this year.