Saturday, September 19, 2009

Let us now hail... Port

Yesterday I finished a bottle of port acquired in the run-up to last Christmas. While the second part of that sentence isn't unusual, it strikes me the first probably is.

Port's one of those fringe-interest festive accoutrements that, like those peculiar dials of candied orange and lemon segments, tends to find its way into the trolley on an 11th-hour trip through the supermarket. That's not to deny its healthy year-round fanbase, of course – merely to pinpoint its place in the average 21st-century household.

Here, the bottle is normally a few inches down by home time on New Year's Eve. Otherwise it's untouched. Jokes about gout and the singer from Keane may follow. But here I am, staring at the label and wondering when it would be politic to line up my next fix.

It probably helps that this particular port arrived as part of a wine case won in a Guild of Food Writers raffle. So it is – was – a good one. That's it in the DIY pack shot at the top of this post: a Fonseca Terra Prima, non-vintage but made from organic grapes grown in Portugal's famous Douro Valley.

As you'd expect from a fruit-based alcoholic drink fortified to 20% ABV, it's full-bodied and warming. But there's a moreish, mellow spiciness to the blackcurranty flavours here that had previously eluded me. The bottle looks great, too – and that proper stopper beats a cork every time.

Perhaps it's something to do with the context; the absence of an already alcohol-soaked seasonal binge. Perhaps it's because there's been very little red wine in the house. I'll settle for saying that any recommendations for my next bottle will be well received.

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