Every beverage has the perfect glass to increase the richness of its aroma and flavor. Lovers of port wine know that their favorite libation needs room to breathe and a balanced temperature for the flavor to reach its fullest potential. Just as cognac is traditionally served in a snifter, there are specific types of glasses that will bring out the best in your precious port wine.
About Port Wine
Port wine is a sweet, rich wine of a deep red or tawny color and is often served for dessert. It has a history spanning millennia in Portugal and even though similar products are created in other countries, only the wines that are produced in the Douro Region of Portugal are allowed to be labeled “port.”
Port wine has a higher alcohol content than regular wines due to a strong grape based spirit, a type of brandy called aguardiente, which is added to the process to stop the fermentation of the grapes. This keeps some of the original grape sugar in the wine. As a final step, the port is allowed to age and to develop a warm, earthy and at the same time fruity flavor which can be reminiscent of sweet plums or cherries.
Port Wine Glasses
Traditional port wine glasses are a touch smaller than regular wine glasses and have a medium long stem, an elongated tulip shape with a wide bottom and just a slightly narrower top. This elegant shape allows the scent of the wine to fully evolve and linger.
There is indeed an official wine glass for port, which was commissioned by the Institute for Port and Douro Wines and developed by renowned Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza.The design is based on the classic shape, adapted with modern knowledge and glass making technology.
New Types of Glasses
The variety of perfect port wine glasses is growing with new designers exploring the subject. One of the new types of port wine glasses is a stemless version which allows the wine to be closer to the warmth of the hand while it is being swirled around.
If you have a good bottle of port and no “perfect” glass anywhere near, pick any wide bodied wine glass or even a smaller cordial glass.
How to Serve Port Wine and What Not to Do
Port wine is best served at room temperature. It does not have to be aerated as other wines but correct decanting over a candle supports the subtleties of the flavor.
Do not serve port wine over ice cubes, in plastic or foam containers. Cold and watered down, this delightful elixir will lose flavor and its scent.
Never fill the glass to the brim. Good wines need room to move. Fill it to about one third or half full.
References and ResourcesUniversity of California, Davis: To Enjoy Wine Raise a Glass, but What Kind?
University of Ohio: Effects of the form of glasses on the perception of wine flavors
Wine Education: How Port is Made
ResourcesPortugal Info: Wines
Wine Enthusiast: Port Glasses
Wall Street Journal: How to Select a Good Wine Glass