Port & Sherry

Fortified wines — the most notable being Port and sherry — are made by adding a neutral spirit (usually brandy) to stop fermentation and raise the alcohol level of the wine. This process allows fortified wines to age longer in the bottle and to remain fresh for a longer period after they have been opened. Fortified wines can be made from white or red grapes and run the gamut from dry to sweet, introducing a range of distinct styles. A favorite dessert wine, Port, is a fortified wine made in the Douro region of Portugal from a variety of different grapes. Port can be unaged or aged in wood barrels to create Ruby Port or aged for extended periods of time, even decades, to create Tawny. The best Port vintages are extensively aged to create Vintage Port, which can develop and improve for decades. Madeira is also a Portuguese fortified wine, but it is made on the Madeira Islands off the coast of Africa. Styles of Madeira run from the very dry Sercial, which is typically enjoyed as an aperitif, to the decadently sweet Malvasia, which is usually paired with desserts. Showing similar versatility is the Spanish fortified wine Sherry. Sherry is typically made with the Palomino grape and ranges from the dry Fino to the very sweet Jerez Dulce, which is often made with Pedro Ximénez grapes. Marsala is Italy’s versatile fortified wine, drawing from the city of Marsala in Sicily, and it too can range from dry to sweet. Today, Marsala is most commonly used in Italian cooking — dry versions appearing in sauces and sweet versions appearing in desserts. A final wine that deserves note is Vermouth, for which we have a dedicated section.

Top Port & Sherry Posts:

Exploring Port Wine: Touring Porto and the Douro Valley
What is Fortified Wine and How Is It Made?
2016 Vintage Port (and Beyond)
Madeira Wine 2018
Hidalgo Fino and Bodegas Dios Baco Oxford 1.970 Pedro Ximenez Sherry

Review: Ports of Kopke, 2023 Colheitas

By Christopher Null | August 8, 2023 |

We seem to write about Kopke’s Port collection quite a bit, led by Robert Lublin’s coverage of multiple bottlings over the years. Today we’re taking a deeper dive into Kope’s Colheita Port wines. Colheita traditionally refers to vintage tawny Ports, but Kopke also uses it to refer to its vintage white Port. I recently received a…

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Review: Ports of Kopke, 2023 Releases

By Robert Lublin | July 14, 2023 |

Last year I had a chance to sit with winemaker Carla Tiago and try some extraordinary ports, including 50 year-old white and 50 year-old tawny Ports. Today we swing back around to try Kopke’s more modest offerings, including two 10 year olds, a 20 year old, and a late bottled vintage offering. That isn’t to…

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Review: Wines of Donnafugata, 2023 Releases

By Christopher Null | April 21, 2023 |

Sicily’s Donnafugata is no stranger to Drinkhacker’s pages. In fact, post #1, back in 2007, was a review of a Donnafugata wine. 16 years later we’re back for more, which now includes a partnership with Dolce & Gabbana, which provides a brand-appropriate spin on a few of the winery’s labels. Today we take a deepish…

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Review: NV Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Porto Special Vina Velha Edition

By Christopher Null | March 21, 2023 |

Graham’s continues to turn out limited bottlings, special editions based on its iconic Six Grapes Port. This latest is called the Special Vila Velha Edition, and it’s drawn exclusively from the grapes grown at Quinta da Vila Velha, one of the four Douro estates that supplies Graham’s Port. The property was purchased by the late…

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Review: 2010 Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port

By Christopher Null | February 21, 2023 |

  It’s not every day that vintage Port shows up on our doorstep, and even rarer that it’s of the quality that we see in the wine we’re reviewing today. Vintage Port is not declared every year, and 2010 was not designated as one. That however doesn’t stop Port producers from releasing something in those…

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Review: NV Cockburn’s Tails of the Unexpected Port – Ruby Soho, Tawny Eyes, and White Heights

By Christopher Null | February 17, 2023 |

Can you make Port wine millennial-friendly? Cockburn’s is trying to find out, offering new expressions of three classic styles in untraditional bottles, complete with vibrantly designed labels and a catchy tagline. These are all reportedly new, “experimental” formulations that use “the highest-grade lots usually reserved for our best wines.” That said, I think most Port…

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Review: NV Sandeman Founder’s Reserve Ruby Porto (2023)

By Rob Theakston | February 8, 2023 |

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve had the privilege to review a port from Sandeman, and thus we felt ready for a refresh. With a deep garnet color in the glass, there is certainly much to appreciate on the nose of Sandeman’s Founder’s Reserve, with roasted plum showing first, along with earthier notes…

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Tasting the Sherry-Aged Spirits of Gonzalez Byass (2022)

By Christopher Null | December 19, 2022 |

Gonzalez Byass is one of the largest producers of sherry in Spain, and as any modern drinker knows, the demand for sherry barrels far outweighs the demand for sherry itself. Sherry barrel aging gives all manner of spirits a distinct character, and at some point, Gonzalez Byass figured out it should be making spirits of…

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Review: Graham’s Tawny Port 20 Years Old (2022)

By Christopher Null | December 3, 2022 |

Three years ago we took our first spin with Graham’s 20 year old tawny Port, and recently the winery sent us a fresh bottling to demonstrate what has (or hasn’t) changed. Turns out this Port has extreme consistency, offering a straightforward raisin character up front, touched with light notes of strawberry, moving to a strong…

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Tasting Kopke Port with Winemaker Carla Tiago

By Robert Lublin | April 15, 2022 |

I recently had the chance to sample a range of Kopke Ports with winemaker Carla Tiago on her visit to Boston from Portugal. I was excited to see that she brought some well-aged white ports, which are uncommon in the U.S., as well as Colheita Port, which is single vintage Tawny Port that has been…

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