Port is perhaps the worlds most famous dessert wine. The name refers to the city of Opporto, home to many port lodges and the heart of the Porto wine industry. The city is strategically located at the mouth of the Douro River, which served as the highway for the port industry for centuries. You see, while Porto wines are blended and matured at the lodges in Opporto, they are produced further upriver, along the terraced vineyards that line the Douro.
Port wine is a fortified wine. By that I mean that it is produced as if it were to become a regular dry wine. Here, the fermentation is stopped when the winemaker feels the sugar level is right, upon which neutral grape spirits are added to the fermenting must. This alcohol, which typically brings the wine to a total alcohol of between 19 and 20% by volume, kills off the active yeast cells that had been converting sugar to alcohol.
Port wine combines that character of a young table wine with significant added alcohol. This accounts for the need to age port to allow for better integration of the alcohol and softening of the tannins.
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