For us in the wine trade, it is the last month of the year when port comes to the fore. Here are our reasons for why port makes the perfect gift.
Everyone knows it goes well with cheese and dessert, but white and tawny styles are a fantastic choice as an aperitif and a ruby, LBV or vintage style can be sipped by itself after a meal as a digestif.
A perfect gift for novices and wine experts
Port is a wine with so much history and it’s a difficult wine to make – grapes are grown in the steep Douro Valley and winemakers must have a keen skill for blending and craftmanship; this makes every bottle a special wine to receive.
Port producers are well versed in the importance of a beautiful bottle and packaging. Striking labels make port an excellent wine to pour by the bottle and beautiful packaging make it a no-wrap option for gifts. We have various gifting options for the ports we offer - please don't hesitate to contact us here for more information.
Pomp and Circumstance
The tradition and ceremony of drinking port that has built up through the centuries make it a talking point at the table. However, few of the ways in which port is drunk are crucial to its appreciation, rather they are there to enhance the sense of enjoyment and occasion hence its popularity at Christmas. Here are a few port drinking traditions:
This is necessary to aerate the wine and remove the sediment, particularly good Crusted and Vintage ports, which are typically bottled unfiltered. We recommend to stand the bottle upright one day before drinking to let the sediment settle, decant two hours before serving and drink within two days of opening.
Passing the decanter
Always placed to the right of the host and passed left round the table. There are several theories as to why it should be passed to the left:
1) A custom that arose from keeping one’s sword arm free in case a skirmish erupts.
2) “Port to Port” – a phrase apparently originating in the British Navy, which has a long tradition of port drinking.
When a bottle of port being passed around the table comes to a standstill, it is a tradition to ask “Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?” to the person holding the bottle up to get it moving again. It is said to come from Henry Bathurst who was Bishop of Norwich until 1837. He ‘enjoyed’ a drink and lived to the ripe old age of 93. He blamed his poor eyesight and hearing on why he never passed the port down the table but it was probably due to his fondness for the good stuff!
Alternatively, you can use a hoggit. This is a round bottomed decanter that can only be placed on a wooden stand so it makes it impossible for the passing of port to stop. It also adds a touch of pomp and ceremony to the passing of the port.
Liberty Wines' Top Port Picks
Offley Ruby Port NV – Offley Ruby Port has an attractive red-ruby hue and lively aromas reminiscent of ripe strawberries, blackberries and cherries. Some more complex spicy notes arise from its time spent ageing in oak. On the palate, it has a fine balance between sweetness and mature tannins. Its youthful elegance and liveliness make it ideal for those who enjoy young and accessible Port wines.
Sandeman LBV 2013 (in gift box) – An all-time favourite! Vintage quality port but aged for longer so it is ready to drink and without the vintage port price tag. One of only a handful of wines that matches perfectly with chocolate.
Quinta do Infantado Unfiltered LBV 2012 (gift box available separately) – This LBV was aged for 45 months in 100-year-old, 250 hectolitre casks before being bottled unfiltered. Ruby in colour, with notes of black fruit and spices on the nose. The palate is fresh, fruity and spicy, full of round ripe tannins. The finish is long and deliciously fresh.
Quinta do Infantado 2011 (gift box available) – The winner of a Sommelier Wine Award Gold 2017 produced from a spectacular vintage - the best vintage for port in the last 20 years! Deep, almost opaque, ruby in colour, with black cherries, plums and dark chocolate perfumes on the nose. On the palate, the wine is fresh, fruity and spicy, beautifully balanced by round, ripe tannins. The finish is medium-dry, with a fine, delicate perfume of warm, ripe fruit.
Sandeman Aged Tawny range 10, 20, 30 and 40 year old (all available with gift boxes) – Delicious with heady notes of nuts, dried fruit and caramel.
Offley Aged Tawny range 10, 20 and 30 year old – Offley has produced a range of award-winning tawny Ports. Delicate, sublime and all perfectly well-balanced.