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Port for a Traditional British Christmas

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Port Wine - A British Christmas Tradition: Serving Port
Port for a Traditional British Christmas
Photo © RFB Photography

Serving Port

Treat Port as any other fine wine. Store at 55-65°F on their side so the cork doesn't dry out.

Both wood aged and bottle aged port wines are most often served at cool room temperature (64° to 68°F). Special Reserve, Fine Tawny and Aged Tawny Port may also be served slightly chilled in warmer weather. Place the bottle in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes to one hour to chill slightly.

Decanting Port

Vintage port needs decanting. Before opening, the port should be stood upright for at least 24 hours to allow time for the sediment to settle on the bottom. Remove the cork carefully, old corks inevitably break up. If this should happen simply strain the wine while decanting.

Decanting the port is not difficult. It just needs a steady hand and a good eye. Pour the wine in one continuous stream into a decanter. When the sediment begins to appear in the neck of the bottle, stop pouring and discard the rest of the port.

The Ideal Glass

The ideal glass to taste and indeed serve Port wines in, needs to maximize the tasting and drinking experience. Glasses with large openings at the top allow too much air into the glass and, like the original Port flute, heighten the alcohol and lose the fruit components. Glasses with narrow rims don't allow enough air into the glass and need much swirling and shaking to get any bouquet. The traditional port glass is slightly smaller than a standard white wine glass, holding about 5 or 6 ounces. It is best to use a tulip shaped glass with a U-shaped bowl for proper tasting and appreciation of the wine.

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