Don’t you love this month of parties, celebrations, tasting unusual food and fun drinks? I love it and the people who know me, also know I don’t need an excuse to eat and drink. Life is for living, not deprivations. After dinner drinks seems to be one of my favorite part of a dinner. Especially in this cold time of the year ending a dinner with a port warms up the hands and revives the soul.
Port aged in oak barrels is a kind of sweet wine, with lot of body and high alcohol content.
Port originated in Oporto, Portugal is a fortified wine made from grapes grown in the Douro valley. Portuguese law allows only this wine to be called Port, just like the French keep strict laws on Champagne and Cognac producers, or Italians are very protective of their Grappa, Parmigiano and many products that took years to perfect.
The new age of Port now includes a dry white specialty and the medium body Port, both can be served before dinner as an apéritif and chilled. The Vintage Port in my opinion is the best. It takes anywhere from ten to twenty years to be ready for drinking. It is intensely fruity, rich of alcohol and contains a lot of deposits, therefore it needs to be decanted before drinking. It goes well with cheeses and nuts at the end of dinner, as all European style dinners end with cheeses, I find it perfect with blue cheeses. Chocolate desserts with berries, or dark chocolates with coarse salt on top are just luscious.
After a bottle of Port has been opened and how is kept will determine the good status, spoilage or the shelf life of the elixir. The most temperamental is the Vintage Port, it only lasts a couple of days after the opening of the bottle. So, drink up with friends and empty the bottle at once!
Know the rule of serving Port and you will look tall like a connoisseur. The host will first pour Port in the glass of his/her guest sitting on the right, then will pass the bottle to the guest on the left, who will pour its own and pass the bottle to the next guest down and around the table up until it reaches again the guest on the right of the host. The pleasure of holding a Port sipper glass is immense and I love it (top photo), but simple tumblers or regular wine glasses will work well.
The English writer of novels and travel books once said: “Port is not for the very young, the vain and the active. It is the comfort of age and the companion of the scholar and the philosopher.
A clipping from The Times of London, circa 1798: “To which University, said a woman to the late sagacious Dr. Warren, shall I send my son? Madam, replied he, I believe, near the same quantity of Port in each of them.”
Port is for fine palates, getting a hangover from it will lower that person a few steps. Ciao,
Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. Vogue Italy featured her as the guru of staging a home in the theatrical way. Among designing and remodeling homes, designing custom-made furniture and writing books, Valentina is now teaching etiquette, table manners, table setting and life style.
Check out her latest books Red-A Voyage Into Colors on the subject of colors, available on