For decades, the English have had the tradition of drinking port—the fortified, sweet wine drunk most commonly after dinner—on Christmas. It’s a wonderful tradition—so wonderful, in fact, that we’d like to suggest that the tradition be picked up stateside.
Why are we advocating that we Yankees take on this tradition? Well, because port’s delicious, and this is as great an excuse as any to buy a few bottles!
Port, which hails from Portugal, first became popular in England in the 1700s when war with France would often deprive the English of the French wine they loved. The English fell in love with the silky smooth texture of port, and its sweet taste, which made it perfect for pairing with their own stinky Blue Stilton cheese.
After the English discovered the sweet wine, their companies began investing heavily in the Duoro River Valley region of Portugal, the only region in the world where port can be made. It’s due to English investments in importing port that many believe it became a thing at Christmas; it was so readily available that people of all classes could afford a bottle for the holiday.
Port is fantastic for sipping at the end of the meal with a nice fire rolling and some cheeses and deserts spread out to enjoy. Aged in oak barrels prior to bottling, the oak causes port to be incredibly mellow and scarily easy to drink. It’s good to remember that port often contains 20% or more alcohol (an average wine is 13.5%), so try not to have too many glasses.
If you want to go the traditional English route when selecting a port, go with the brands Taylor’s Fladgate or W&J Grahams. They both make delicious ports that are wonderful for drinking by a warm fire.
Have a wonderful Christmas.