How do I serve this port?
December 28, 2007 5:15 AM   Subscribe

Do I need to do anything special to serve this bottle of port?

I have a bottle of twelve-year old tawny port (aged ten years, bottle was bought two years ago). Do I need to do anything special to serve it? Does it need to breathe or be decanted or anything? And room temperature is proper for serving, right?

I've never had port outside of a restaurant, so just trying to make sure I'm doing this right.
posted by Chrysostom to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you've had it stored horizontally in a wine rack, take it out and let it stand on its base for a day or so (port often has a bit of sediment in it, this will let it go to the bottom of the bottle.) Room temperature is fine.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:22 AM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I hardly believe that someone with your username has "never had port outside of a restaurant" since tawny port is the wine of choice for most communion tables! Nothing else can survive the recorking week after week.

That said, a bottle of port does not have to be consumed for best results all in one go like most wines, it can survive being recorked, put back up and wait until you are ready for another snoot. Serve it room temperature in a green glass with a nice plate of strong cheese or communion wafers.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:37 AM on December 28, 2007

A lot of the folderol and ritual is for really old vintage ports, and/or really old vintage British dudes with butlers. You're not required to do anything special beyond what you'd usually do. Small chance there might be a little sediment, but you can deal with it.
posted by gimonca at 5:43 AM on December 28, 2007

Bottle aged port is generally decanted before serving. As the host you should serve the person to your right, then yourself and then pass the decanter to the left, each guest then passes to his left (the ladies should have withdrawn by this point of course).
posted by zemblamatic at 5:54 AM on December 28, 2007

You'll need port glasses. Little cordial glasses work perfectly. Wine glasses are okay if need be, but make sure you don't drink it out of ceramic or anything opaque.
posted by banannafish at 5:56 AM on December 28, 2007

It's not required, but here's a good tip on serving port:

Tawny Ports are often served after dinner, either alone or with more delicate desserts that nonetheless are quite flavorful. Shaved chocolate and fresh raspberries, a mocha brownie, cheeses like an aged Gouda or Morbier and blues lighter than Stilton. Dried apricots and other fruits accompanied by walnuts, filberts and unsalted almonds are also quite good.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:03 AM on December 28, 2007

Thanks, everyone.

(NB to Pollomacho: I'm not Catholic.)
posted by Chrysostom at 6:30 AM on December 28, 2007

Stilton and walnuts are my preferred accompaniments.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:34 AM on December 28, 2007

I'm not Catholic.

Neither am I.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:49 AM on December 28, 2007

I enjoy port. Here's a little more port info. Also, I've spoken to wine experts, and they say you can re-cork port, and it will be OK for a few weeks. And my personal experience seems to back this up - though I haven't gone more than a month on a re-cork.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:00 AM on December 28, 2007

As a little addendum, here's Gary Vaynerchuk on three different ports.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:36 AM on December 28, 2007

The important prep steps are 'bring to room temperature' and 'stand up the bottle to let any sediment settle'. A bottle of 1926 Sandemans might need decanting, but a 10-y-o tawny should be fine.
posted by holgate at 8:11 AM on December 28, 2007

It's a stronger drink (higher alcohol %) so pour smaller ammounts. Use small glasses.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:46 AM on December 28, 2007

From Wiki:

Traditionally, the wine is passed "port to port": the host will pour a glass for the person seated at their right and then pass the bottle or decanter to the left (the port side); this practice is then repeated around the table.

If the port becomes forestalled at some point, it is considered poor form to ask for the decanter directly. Instead, the person seeking a refill would ask of the person who has the bottle: "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?" (after the notoriously stingy Bishop). If the person being thus queried does not know the ritual (and so replies in the negative), the querent will remark "He's an awfully nice fellow, but he never remembers to pass the port."
posted by TrixieRamble at 11:24 AM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Back in the day, people might use port tongs to deal with an old bottle. Today this is mostly only for historic interest, but it gives some insight into one of the reasons why people back then felt it was necessary to decant before serving.
posted by gimonca at 10:48 AM on December 29, 2007

You don't need to use them, of course.
posted by gimonca at 10:50 AM on December 29, 2007

While following this further, I stumbled on this wonderful account of some folks sample really ancient port that had been found in an old barn. Bottle F has one of the better "this wine went bad" descriptions you've heard in a while.
posted by gimonca at 11:05 AM on December 29, 2007

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