By Doug Frost, Check, Please! Host
“Any port in a storm,” goes the old saw, and it’s not hard to understand the sentiment. Sailor or not, a stormy, frigid February evening seems far friendlier with your hands wrapped around a glass of rich Port.
The most famous style is vintage Port, a powerful, dark, sweet wine intended for long aging; sometimes two or three decades is not enough. “Late Bottled Vintage” (or LBV) carries friendlier pricing and is almost always ready to drink upon release. “Single Quinta” (or “single vineyard”) ports are more or less the same as vintage Ports, but they are usually cheaper and need only five to ten years of aging to show their best.
Tawny Ports are produced in greater quantity than any of the above styles. Unlike vintage Ports, Tawnies are usually aged in barrels for ten or more years, and are most often sold in version of “Ten Year Old”, “Twenty Year Old”, “Thirty Year Old” and “Forty Year Old.”
None of those age statements actually means anything. A ten-year-old might be a blend of eight-year-old Ports with a little bit of fifteen-year-old Port. A twenty-year Tawny might not be twenty years old at all. Nonetheless, these Ports can be delicious nutty and complex from long barrel aging, and I care little what the precise term of aging might be. I just love the twenty-year-old Ports.