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Wine Secrets
Become a Wine Expert.

Portuguese Wine - Port
You can still hold strong to that romantic vision of Port being made by people treading on grapes in big stone vats called lagares. In fact, the first two-hour shift is spent marching, followed by a couple hours of dancing to music, which generally goes well into the night.

Portuguese Wine - Port
Robotic lagares and automated plungers have been replacing people treading grapes since the 1990s, but foot treading is still done by larger producers for premium vintage Ports, as well as by the smaller and more traditional houses.

Portuguese Wine - Port
Port is essentially a very potent sweet wine. It's made by fermenting crushed grapes to 6 to 9 percent alcohol, and then adding grape spirit, which raises the alcohol level to about 20 percent alcohol by volume, killing the yeast and stopping fermentation. Because the yeasts are killed before they can transform all the grape sugar into alcohol, the wine remains sweet.

Portuguese Wine - Port
Most Port is made from red grapes but occasionally white Ports are made. White Port is made from white grapes and looks golden in color from time in cask.

Portuguese Wine - Port
Tawny Port is amber colored and can be made two ways. Less expensive tawnies are made by blending young red and white Port, and are recognizable by a pink rim. Better Tawnies are made only from red Port that has been aged in oak casks for long periods of time before bottling, and are recognizable by a russet-colored rim—and steeper prices.

Portuguese Wine - Port
The very best Tawny Ports indicate their age of the wine on the label—ten, twenty, thirty, or over forty years are standard—as well as the year of bottling. These wines will not throw sediment so there is no need to decant them for this purpose. Decanting will give the wines air though, and is a smart move if you want to drink the whole bottle at one sitting. Left without decanting, the wine should last a few weeks in bottle.

Portuguese Wine - Port
A twenty-year-old Port arguably offers the best value because it combines the complexity of age without the vigor of youth.

Portuguese Wine - Port
A good Port tastes sweet but finishes dry. This means there's no cloying sweetness after the swallow because of the wine's intrinsic tartness that makes you salivate and cleanses the palate. Sweetness in wine hides acidity, so Port will never actually seem sour.

Portuguese Wine - Port
Ruby Port is a young, nonvintage, fortified wine that is generally bottled and sold after spending three years in cask. It's inexpensive, fruity, and popular.

Portuguese Wine - Port
If a Ruby Port label reads reserve, it has been aged in oak for about six years before being bottled and sold. Reserve Rubies are more complex and harmonious than a simple Ruby.

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