Is White Port due for a comeback?

Why it’s time to give this different kind of port a chance to shine

August 3, 2016

By Neal McLennan

The past decade has not been kind to port. Nor the decade before that. Nor the decade before that. The truth is, the great fortified wine—once de rigueur at the end of any gathering of swells—has been on a slow path to irrelevance since The Wonder Years premiered. (As of yet, no connection between the two has been proven.) But the irony in port’s decline is that the stuff in the bottle has never been better, and where it used to be one of the priciest wines in the world, now a good bottle can be had for the cost of a bottle of domestic rosé. And here’s the kicker: while the idea of drinking port during the hottest month of the year probably sounds about as appealing as joining an octogenarian nudist club, there’s a little-known subset of the genre that’s perfect for summer.

White port follows the same process as its red brethren: grapes are picked, wine is made and brandy is added to fortify. The only differences are that white grapes are used instead of red, and it’s aged for less time. It comes in two basic styles: dry, which isn’t really all that dry, and classic, which is downright sweet. And while both are great drinks when served chilled on their own, it’s in cocktails where their pedigree really shines. The dry version lends itself perfectly to a glass of tonic and a handful of mint (a combination that’s actually quite common on many European patios and called, not surprisingly, port tonic), while the sweet one is a great dance partner for some stiffer pours: scotch, bourbon, or even tequila. But no matter how you take it, you can raise a glass knowing you’ve done your part to help restore the legacy of this great drink. Take that, Kevin Arnold.

The Bottle

Fine White Port
Taylor Fladgate
$19.50

Here’s a happy coincidence: the best white port in the province is also the only white port available in the province. This is a sweet take on the wine, so for drinks it either needs some citrus or some power to keep it from being cloying. Also, keep your eyes out for Fonseca’s Siroco, which lands here in July. Once you open either one, remember to keep it in the fridge, where it’ll last for a few weeks.

The Drink

Original Sin
by: Brad Stanton, Bartender at Prohibition

newc

 

1½ oz Cazadores Reposado tequila
1 oz Amaro Montenegro 
½ oz Taylor Fladgate Fine White Port
1 dash Angostura orange bitters
5 drops Scrappy’s chocolate bitters

Stir ingredients over ice and strain
over a large cube into a chilled old fashioned glass. Garnish with a nice
big orange twist.

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