Port is a sweet, red wine that’s often served as a dessert wine. Despite its popularity around the world, it’s a type of wine that’s hard to find in rural Alabama, which is the main reason I’ve never tasted any. I added it to my “bucket list” several years ago and finally got the chance to sample some last Thursday.
To be perfectly honest, while I had heard of port, I hadn't thought much about trying it until I began reading Mark Hodder’s “Burton & Swinburne” adventure book stories. The main character in those stories, a fictionalized version of the famous explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, is often described as drinking port and smoking cheroot. Hodder makes port sound so cool that it "slung a craving" on me. After all, who doesn’t want to be like Sir Richard Francis Burton when they grow up?
Last Thursday, I had to take my son to a dental appointment in Mobile, Ala., and he wanted something to eat after his trip to the dentist’s chair. On the way home, as we traveled down Old Shell Road, I pulled into the parking lot of what I at first thought was a convenience store. It was actually the Food Pak International Food’s store at 5150 Old Shell Road.
I could see some regular snack food items through the window and since we were already there, we got out and went inside. On the way to the back of the store, where the drink coolers were located, we had to pass by the wine section. As my son helped himself to a Gatorade, I happened to glance down at the bottom shelf of the wine aisle and spotted four or five different varieties of port.
A few minutes later, I left with an $8 bottle of Taylor Port, which is produced and bottled by the Taylor Wine Company of Canandaigua, N.Y. The bottle’s front label read as follows – “A rich, fruity taste and smooth finish make ruby red Taylor Port the perfect choice to pair with your favorite dessert. Alcohol 18% by volume.” The back label said – “A rich, moderately sweet, ruby red port. Delicious with dessert or for evening sipping. Serve over ice or at room temperature with a twist or with soda. The Taylor Wine Company, makers of superior ports and sherries, with a tradition dating back to 1880, skillfully blends the best grapes from New York to create a unique taste and depth of character. Taste the difference.”
When I got home, I tried it both ways – room temperature and on ice. Personally, I liked it better at room temperature. How did it taste? To me, it tasted like a mellow wine with a smoky aftertaste. My wife said it tasted like cough medicine. Oh well, to each his own. I’m not a big wine fan anyway. I prefer a plain, old Budweiser (the official beer of Major League Baseball), but if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate to enjoy a little more port. After all, Sir Richard Francis Burton liked it.
In the end, how many of you have sampled port before? What did you think about it? What types of port do you like? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.