Port Wine - The Bishop Of Norwich Is An Awfully Nice Fellow

Port Wine goes back a long way, and Douro, the region in Portugal that produces it, is the third oldest protected wine region in the world. The ??~General Company of Viticulture of the Upper Douro’ was established in 1756, with the purpose of ensuring both the quality and the price of the product.

It was the English who took Port Wine to their hearts, after the ??~Methuen Treaty’ in 1703 allowed merchants to import Portuguese wine. However, ships often arrived in English ports with spoiled wine, so a process of fortification was adopted which improved the longevity of the wine. This was a time when England was at war with France, so an alternative to French wine had to be sought, and the habit of drinking Port Wine developed into a tradition which has lasted through the years. Some of the most famous shippers are still in existence today; amongst the most well known are Sandeman, Cockburn, Osborne and Croft.

The partaking of Port is not merely a case of ??~having a drink’. There are rules and rituals to follow if you want to do it properly. It was, and probably still is, a custom in the British Navy to pass the wine port to port. The host should fill the glass of the person sitting to their right, and then pass the bottle to their left. The bottle goes all around the table until everyone has Port in their glass. Of course, there is always the problem of the bottle becoming stuck by a certain person, but it is bad practice to directly ask for the Port. The correct procedure is to say to the person who is delaying the movement of the bottle ??~Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?’ Usually, reminding the culprit of the mean Bishop does the trick, but if the person is not au fait with the etiquette of Port drinking, and simply says no, you would then have to add ??~he’s an awfully nice fellow, but he never remembers to pass the Port.’

An answer to this perennial problem is to use a Hoggett Decanter. Its rounded bottom makes it impossible to stand on the table, and the only way to let go of it, is to return it to the host, who will rest it in the purpose made stand known as ??~The Hoggett’. It is also an English tradition to remain at the dining table until the whole bottle has been emptied. All this tradition and ritual almost never came to be, because grape mildew came close to wiping out the vineyards of the Douro. The crisis became so bad that root stock had to be imported from America to revive the flagging region.

Port isn’t simply Port. There are Tawny Ports that are made from red grapes and aged in wooden barrels and take on a golden-brown colour. These Ports are often used as a dessert wine.

Pink Port is a fairly new conception. The same grapes are used as in the production of Tawny and Ruby Ports, but its lesser exposure to grape skins help to develop the sought after pink colour. It tastes fruitier and lighter than its cousins and is normally served chilled.

White Port is produced from white grapes. This versatile option can be used as the basis of a cocktail, or will stand alone as a quality drink ranging from dry to very sweet.

Late Bottled Vintage Port is wine that was originally earmarked as vintage, but for one reason or another remains in the barrel for longer than was anticipated. They are bottled between four and six years after the vintage. The term ??~Late Bottled Vintage’ was first coined in 1969 by Taylor, Fladgate and Yeatman, who used this name after the bottling in that year of the 1965 vintage. These Ports tend to be lighter than a vintage, with bottles since 2002 carrying the words ??~Bottle Matured’.

Vintage Port, although being the wine that Portugal is most proud of, only accounts for two percent of production. In the Douro region, not every year is declared a vintage. Only when conditions are at their most favourable can the seal of approval be given to the wine, and then only in the spring of the second year following the harvest. The decision is made by each individual Port house or shipper.

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About The Author, Alan Liptrot
Alan Liptrot writes for Your Holiday Rentals.com, providing worldwide holiday rentals and villa rentals