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When to drink Port

When the Port comes out, the evening begins
 

Cockburn’s wines are the perfect companions for any occasion from the very casual to the very formal. Port is often drunk after a meal, either paired with dessert or as a delicious digestif on its own after lunch or dinner. This is a great traditional way to drink Port. But chilled White Port and Tawny Port also make refreshing aperitifs, either served straight or as cocktails.

So, if you want the perfect drink to relax before lunch or before dinner then try our White Port, chilled or as a Port Tonic cocktail with ice, lemon, mint and tonic water. A chilled glass of 10 Years Old or 20 Years Old Aged Tawny Port is very versatile and goes down equally well before, during or after a meal. Special Reserve is warm and welcoming, especially in the colder months, when you want to settle down somewhere cozy in good company or for a quiet night in.

Cockburn’s Ports are great wines for relaxing with friends and family. They are also the perfect companion for a variety of foods including cheese, chocolate and desserts generally. They are equally pleasurable, served on their own, as aperitifs, or after a meal.

 
 
 
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How to store Port

Pretty laid back
 

Some Ports like to lie down others to stand up. But whatever the case, all Ports are pretty laid back, so there’s no need to fuss. Wines with a stopper-cork, such as Special Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage, and Tawny Ports, should be stored upright in a cool place away from direct light or heat. Tawny Port and White Port can be kept in the fridge but this is mainly so that when you want to serve it, it’s already chilled for you.

Wines with a driven cork, such as Vintage Port and Quinta dos Canais Vintage Port, should be stored lying down, in a dark place with a constant, cool temperature. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? One of the traditions of Vintage Port is that the label is kept facing upwards, we usually mark the bottle with a splash of white paint. Then in many decades, even if the label has disintegrated, you can still identify the bottle. These wines are meant for long ageing in bottle and so the wine should be kept in contact with the cork so the air doesn’t get in and spoil everything. Store ideally at between 13 and 16ºC (55-61ºF).

 
 
 
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How long to keep Port

Put a cork in it!
 

One of the beauties of Port is its longevity. Unlike other wines, it will remain in perfect condition for quite some time. Once opened, those of our Ports with a stopper-cork will stay fresh for up to 6 weeks – as long as you put a cork back in it afterwards. For those with a driven cork (Vintage Port and Quinta dos Canais Vintage Port), it’s a bit more of a race against time. Ideally these should be drunk within 3 to 6 days, which should be a piece of cake! You can breathe some extra life into any bottle of wine by using a vacuum pump to seal it once it’s opened. This should give you a further week or so of life.

 
 
 
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What temperature to serve Port at

 
 

To appreciate each Port at its best, you’ve got to find its sweet spot. And each one of our Ports has a slightly different one. Ports that are rich ruby in colour - Cockburn’s Fine Ruby, Special Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage, Quinta dos Canais Vintage and Vintage Port – sing perfectly at between 12 and 16ºC. We like to serve our Tawny Port and Aged Tawnies chilled, between 10 and 14ºC. And Cockburn’s Fine White chilled between 6 and 10ºC. Naturally, these suggestions are particularly useful as a guide for serving Port in warmer weather, although generally Ports will be at their best if served cool, whatever the ambient temperature.

 
 
 
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Serving Port in the right sized glasses

 
 

Port is a big-hearted wine that should be enjoyed in the same spirit – in big glasses. Half the fun is to have a glass that’s big enough to allow you to swirl the wine around and appreciate its lovely aromas and colour. Gone are the days of serving Port in thimble sized glasses filled to the brim. Port should ideally be served in fine white wine glasses or the purpose made tulip shaped Port glasses made by Riedel and others.

 
 
 
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How to decant Vintage Port

Demystifying decanting
 

There’s a misconception that decanting Vintage Port requires a lot of time, ceremony, torturous-looking gadgets, candles and witchcraft. We’re here to tell you that that’s not the case at all.

Only our wines that have matured in bottle, Cockburn’s Vintage Port and Quinta dos Canais Vintage Port, need to be decanted. Phew! This is because these wines are bottled unfiltered to allow them to age. With greater age comes a natural sediment – like all things in their ripe old age!

Stand the bottle upright for an hour or so before you intend to serve the wine. If you are short of time, half an hour usually proves sufficient. Hold the bottle firmly. Drive the corkscrew completely through the cork then pull it out steadily. Then pour the wine slowly into a freshly rinsed decanter or some other clean glass vessel. Once you have started pouring do not stop until you see the very first traces of sediment begin to appear, then cease pouring. To help you see the sediment, use a source of light behind the wine as you pour it.

You may prefer to use a funnel, with or without a muslin filter. This is not always necessary but it can make things easier. If possible, rinse the filter with water or with a small amount of red wine before hand, this will prevent any unwanted flavours affecting the wine.

 

 

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