Sweet Endings

A guide to port buying and tasting.

Photo by Fred + Elliott

A rich and intense port provides a sweet finish to your meal. The fortified wine is produced in the Douro Valley of northern Portugal, mainly from Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca grapes. To complement our harvest dinner’s ginger cake with salted caramel butternut squash, labne and fried sage, Randall Horst of Vintage Cellar in Blacksburg recommends a tawny port, which is aged in barrels for decades and features notes of toffee, caramel and hazelnut. Some of his favorites are Maynard’s, Graham’s, Fonseca and Taylor Fladgate. If you’re serving a cheese plate for dessert, Horst says the tang of a blue cheese pairs well with ruby ports, which are younger and have flavors of dark red fruit like blackberry and cassis. Since ports are around 40 proof and 20 percent ABV, serve in small pours, typically 3 ounces. Horton Vineyards in Gordonsville was the first winery to bring Touriga Nacional grapes to the Commonwealth and makes a ruby port-style wine as well as a white pear port. 


This article originally appeared in our October 2018 issue. For our ginger cake recipe, and more from our harvest dinner, click here.

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