Port wine’s characteristics distinguish it from common wines. All varieties of Port have rich, intense, and very persistent aromas and flavour, with high alcohol content (usually between 19% and 22% vol.). They exist in a variety of sweetness and colours. In order to identify the several types of Port, some designations are used.
Vintage is an excellent quality wine made up of one single harvest. It is considered the king of Port wines, representing only a small percentage of the total production of Port.
It is bottled between the 1st July of the second year and the 31st December of the third year after harvesting. Although it can be immediately consumed, it is usually kept in ageing cellars for a period that can last up to 40 years.
It is a very dark, full bodied red wine that becomes softer after ageing in bottle.
Single-Quinta is a wine that undergoes the same production process as a vintage, but comes from a single farm (big companies considered that the year was not enough to qualify a wine as vintage).
In Portugal, IVDP (Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto – Port and Douro Wines Institute) is the entity responsible for recognising and classifying Port wines as “vintage”.
Port wines have different denominations according to the type of ageing.
Wine whose colour resembles that of the precious stone called ruby. This happens because the ageing process has little or no oxidation (usually up to three years in wooden barrels). It is a young, full bodied wine rich in fruity aromas.
This category is applicable to Tawny and Ruby wines. Ruby Reserva are more aromatic, fruity and have a more complex structure than Ruby. The blends used in the production of Ruby Reserva undergo a more careful selection than the ones used in the Ruby category.
Port wine obtained from blends of, usually, 3 year-old wines aged in wine seasoned casks. This way, they don’t present the characteritsics of oak ageing. During the ageing process several rackings are performed in order to force oxidation and endow the wine with a golden colour.
This category is applicable to Tawny and Ruby wines. Tawny Reserva wines have higher qualities than Tawny and their tones vary according to the winemaking processes: they can be red, similar to rubies, or brownish, resembling the colour of oldest tawnies. Tawny Reserva is obtained from the blend of 5 to 7 year-old wines.