Port is a fortified wine, as defined in EU legislation and originates in Portugal. Port has been produced in the Douro Valley region of Portugal for centuries and the Port region was originally demarcated in 1756. Kopke was the very first Port shipper, established in 1638 and the first of the British Port trading firms was Warre’s, which began in 1670. However, there are records which show modern wine production in the Douro, as early as the 1400’s with ancient evidence of wine in the Douro dating back to the 4th century A.D.
Like all wine, Port is fermented and during the fermentation process, adding a neutral grape spirit (similar to brandy) called Aguardente prematurely stops fermentation leaving a sweet dessert wine known as Port. After production, the dessert wine is either stored in the Port Lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia (across the river from Oporto) or up in the Douro Valley (the latter since 1986) at wine estates known as Quintas.
Port is typically enjoyed as a dessert wine, but there are countries which serve it as an aperitif or choose to use it for cooking. It pairs beautifully with a variety of dessert dishes and cheese, or can be enjoyed all by itself as dessert. Port ranges between 19-21% alcohol by volume (ABV).