Today’s Monday musings concern Tawny ports. I am thinking about them not only because I love them but because Eric Asimov wrote an article about them this week for the New York Times.
I wrote about this topic here about a year ago. At that time, I wondered if there is any data about how many people drink tawny port in the US. I wasn’t a Tawny port drinker myself until 2016. Sure I had heard of it but I didn’t know enough about it to become as entranced and interested in it as I became after a trip to the Douro Valley in September 2016.
While I had always thought of Port as a ruby red colored drink and had consumed my share while sailing, I didn’t know that the Portuguese themselves mostly favor Tawny Ports rather than the ruby style I had been used to.
First of all Tawny ports age in smaller size barrels which allows for oxidation to occur which changes their aromas and flavors. They age for a much longer time than ruby ports as well and are sold with stoppers. I love Tawny Port now and think it is a great end to a meal. Tawny port is ready to drink when bottled. It is also easier to manage than some of the vintage ports and can be drunk with a slight chill in the summer. It is more affordable as well and you don’t have to smoke a cigar or be a man to enjoy it – those old stereotypes don’t hold for other ports either but this one is much easier to consume.
Often, Tawny ports are labeled as Colheitas which means from a single vintage. I tasted a number of these wines at Port seminars and while in Portugal last year. They are magical.
To answer my own question, how do Tawny ports get to be on the table more often than they are today, I think wine lists should offer more of them and that they should be used not just at the end of the meal. Perhaps they can be used earlier in the meal or given as gifts more frequently at holidays. I doubt it will be an easy task but I think it is one that is worth trying.
Here’s a beautiful article on the topic from more than a decade ago. I don’t know that much has changed but I imagine a bit has.
Still I think we are missing something but not having a tawny port tradition in our homes, generally speaking. I’ve created one in mine. I wonder if now that the New York Times is writing about it, it may get more play. I hope so.