6 Ports to Weather the Winter Storms
These rich wines showcase decades of aging as well as new fruit.
When chill winds blow and temperatures drop, our thoughts often turn to brown spirits. But sometimes we crave liquid warmth without the high proof, especially in this era of cask-strength releases. Consider the noble port, a fortified wine with only 20 percent alcohol yet possessing robust, mouth-filling flavors. Port wine can be both a hearty apéritif or a soothing after dinner drink. As a fortified wine, older vintages can survive the decades with aplomb and finesse.
At Charlie Palmer’s flagship Aureole restaurant in New York City, sommelier Cory Burke augments their lofty 13,000-bottle glass-enclosed wine cellar, which looms over the restaurant, with a number of ports, including 1945 and 1908 vintages.
“A lot of our customers like chocolate for dessert, and port is a natural pairing for that,” says Burke. “We also offer a tasting sample of, say, Late Bottle Vintages, which unlike a vintage, will keep for months, once opened.”
And at the bustling Eno Wine Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C., bar manager Hugo Lefevre stocks seven different ports, including a 1980 Warre’s that he pours by the glass as well as Late Bottle Vintages and tawnies.
“Serious port drinkers tend to go for the vintage bottles, the ones that have a history, and each vintage is unique,” says Lefevre. He is crafting a flight of ports for guests to sample at the bar.
To start your own port flight, or to simply discover the pleasures of a single glass of port, here are six of our favorites to warm the winter months.