This is a great Port-drinking time of year, perfect weather for the rich, fortified, fairly sweet classic from the Douro Valley in Portugal. Of course, if you seek complexity in Port—of which there can be a great deal—you’re gonna have to pay for it! Vintage Ports, especially with age (give me a nice 1977 right now!), are among the elite wines of the world. But many Americans think only of the pricey Vintage Port and ignore the value-priced everyday Ports that are offered by each of the top Port houses..such as this one, a thrilling tipple from venerable Graham’s. In the glass, it looks like a rich California Cabernet, but not scarily dark. Then there’s the come-hither nose—with lovely undercurrents of plums, seductive berries, ripe grapes (almost a little raisin and prune). I like the palate best of all: crushed-velvet feel, not overly sweet (though this IS Port!), perfect kick of structuring tannin in the finish.
It’s 5PM on a Saturday afternoon. There is snow falling. Dinner is not for a few hours. I have an idea: to the fireplace with this wine, and an array of nuts and blue cheeses! Because it’s holiday season—you could even throw in some fruitcake, if you dare! But that’s one of Port’s miracles: it adds sweetness to the right savories (like nuts), AND it matches the sweetness of many desserts, as long as they’re not too light.