6 Types of Port Wine Definitely Worth Trying!

Types of Port Wine

Aloha Guys, it's Karina and thanks for stopping by!

In this post, I'm going to go into my 6 personal favorite types of port wine you should probably be trying!

BUT - first before we get started, just  What Is Port Wine?

What Is Port Wine?

Port wine is a fortified wine produced in the Douro Valley in the Northern part of Portugal. The wine gets its name from Porto (also known as Oporto), where it used to be transported through the mouth of the Douro River and then stored in "lodges" (warehouses) close to its mouth before being distributed throughout Europe.

Port wines are specially protected under EU regulations and can only use their name if they meet certain legal requirements, such as geographical origin or minimum aging time.

Still, wines cannot be labeled as a port, so when you see bottles with vintage years on them, this means that all grapes used were harvested during that particular vintage year. For this reason, this type of wine is also called Vintage Wines.

Port wine production starts by harvesting the grapes that are grown on the steep hillsides of the Douro Valley.

The grapes are then crushed, fermented and put in vats for aging. Then to give them their distinguishing characteristic, brandy is added.

Now, lets' get onto the various types of port wine one might come across!

The different types of Port Wine:

There are several types of Port wines:  Vintage, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), Tawny, Ruby, White, and Crusted Port wines.

The most well-known among these types is undoubtedly the Vintage Port, so we'll take a closer look at this one:

Vintage Ports

These wines must be produced from grapes that come from a single harvest year.    

The grapes used for making these wines usually come from vineyards situated around the Douro River and must be harvested no earlier than October 20th and no later than November 15th.

These wines are only bottled after having been aged in a cask (between 18 months and 3 years) and for at least two years in the bottle to ensure they have reached their full maturity.

During this time, a thick layer of sediment forms on the bottom of the bottle which means that you should never store it with the neck pointing downward or turn it over while serving!  

It is said that Vintage Port wines express the "nose" of the Douro Valley, which makes them very special indeed.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ports

This wine type also has to come from a single harvest year but it does not need to be bottled and aged for as long as the Vintage Port.

They must be produced from grapes harvested between September 22nd and November 15th and then aged in cask for a period that can vary from 2 to 4 years, but not less than 18 months.

This casking takes place in special rooms known as "Cámaras" where the wine is stored at a constant temperature of 16 to 20 degrees Celsius and a humidity level between 75% and 80%.

In terms of flavor, LBV Ports are similar to Vintage Ports, but they tend to be less complex.    When properly stored, these wines can have a longer life expectancy than Vintage Port.

Tawny Ports

Tawny Ports are the result of a combination of two different processes:

1) The wine is initially aged under the same conditions as Vintage and LBV ports (i.e. in cask for 2 to 3 years), but it is not bottled and instead undergoes a second aging process called "estágio".

2) The wine is then aged in a cask again but this time for a shorter period of time, which can depend on the type of Tawny Port being produced.

For example, 10 years old Tawny Ports are more reddish and have a fruitier flavor while 20 years old Tawny Ports show aromas that remind us of dried fruits such as figs or raisins.

In terms of production, Tawny Port wines are often more sought after than Vintage Ports because they do not need aging in bottles.

Ruby Port

This type corresponds to young wines from a single harvest year, which starts its life cycle when it is taken from the cask where it had been aging for a minimum of two years.

After this initial period, the wine is then stored in vats and large casks for another period of between 7 months and 3 years.

The addition of spirit to Ruby Ports is not allowed as it stops fermentation from taking place, but some brands such as Graham's will add a small quantity (less than 20%) of high-quality brandy to their wines so as to give them more body.

It should be noted that Ruby Ports tend to be less complex than Vintage Ports and yet they pack an intense fruity flavor and can stand up against these prestigious wines when served at the right temperature (8 – 10 degrees Celsius).

White Port

This type is also made with grapes from a single harvest year, but instead of being made from red grapes as the others, it is obtained from white grapes.    

In practice, these wines are a blend of several different grape varieties such as Malvasia Fina and Gouveio as well as Rabigato and Viosinho.    The grapes used to produce White Ports come from vineyards that have been carefully selected for this specific purpose.    This wine type has a low alcohol content (below 17%) and can be considered a refreshing option.

Crusted Port

Finally, we have Crusted Port which is produced by adding alcohol during the winemaking process so as to stop fermentation from taking place too early.   

These wines tend to have an amber color with golden reflections and their flavors range from ripe fruit to spices.    

The wines produced from grapes harvested in this type of vintage have a high sugar content and a mild alcohol level (between 15% and 18%).

What Is The Best Port Wine?

This question is very difficult to answer as it really depends on the person. That's why we always recommend that you try several different wines before formulating an opinion!

The most important thing to remember is that there are hundreds of different types of Port Wine out there and they range from single harvest years with a high alcohol level to Vintage Ports with a great aging capacity or Tawny Ports which are not cask-aged for as long.

The most important thing is to experiment, taste them and decide what type best suits your tastes!

Update: Okay, I stayed up late and put together another blog post for you on this very topic!

What Is The Best Port Wine? Our Top 21 (With Tasting Notes)

Now don't say I never do anything nice for you! 🙂

In Conclusion

The Port wine is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable wines in the world.   

Its conservation properties are so good that it has become a popular drink all around the globe, but its immense popularity has meant that there are counterfeit versions available that can fool even some experts.    

It would be very difficult to list all of the different brands and types of Port wines on sale today, but what we do know is that they can vary depending on where they were made (Douro Valley), their vineyard location (with some areas being more suited than others for this type of production) or their age.  

This means that discriminating Port drinkers should always take time to read about their preferred styles before making a purchase and always make sure they keep these bottles in a cool, dark place so as to preserve their unique flavor profiles.

In short, there are at least four different types of wines that can be produced in Portugal under the name of Port wine: Vintage Ports, Late-Bottled Vintage Ports (LBV), Tawny Ports, and Ruby Ports.

The last two have been introduced more recently and their production methods vary from that used to produce Vintage or LBV wines while Crusted Port is a special type that is mainly intended for blending with other grape varieties.

  • September 5, 2021
  • Blog