We're well into Autumn now, and with the impending near-doomsday-cold forecast for next week I think it's time we accepted the upcoming season and settle in. And though many turn to whiskey's various incarnations for the cold months, and many more go for dark, seasonal beers, I believe it's imperative that everyone keep a bottle of 20 Year (or older, cost permitting) Tawny Port around the house.
1. It Almost Smells Like "The Holidays" - with rich notes of fig, raisin, fruit cake, clove, and it's inherent nuttiness and popcorny finish, Tawny Port is nearly the liquid embodiment of sitting around a fireplace in a warm sweater. My parents never drank the stuff, but sipping it always unlocks some strange nostalgia.
2. A Little Can Go A Long Way - sure, it may be a little pricey compared to that average bottle of Cabernet you buy, but with Tawny Port clocking in around 20% alcohol you're not going to need such a big glass. This slower sipping may even lead to a more relaxed, contemplative state. It may be a tad hyperbolic to call this liquid meditation, but there's a case to be made!
3. It's Not As Strong As Bourbon or Scotch - you can get the fun, dark, sweet flavors, and a bite of alcohol, without accidentally finding yourself asleep on the couch.
4. It Can Last - unlike the short shelf life of it's unfortified siblings, Tawny Port, once opened, can stay in really good shape for a month or two. Longer, really, if you're not too picky about freshness. This means you avoid waste, which when taken into account makes the price tag not seem to bad. It makes for an easy nighttime nip that you can keep going back to.
5. Yum! - aged tawny Port is just delicious. Sweet, but not too sweet, and the good stuff is complex and contemplative with a sensuous mouthfeel. With dessert, or by itself, it's a calming after dinner beverage that everyone should have around the house for friends, and especially for a romantic evening around the fire.
I'm currently drinking Graham's 20 Year Tawny Port, and we just added it to Murphy's By-The-Glass list. Graham's is one of the great Port houses, and I think is the only one that is still owned by just one family. They've put their 20, 30, and 40 Year Tawny in some gorgeous new bottles, and I highly recommend them all. That being said, I think the value is in the 20 Year since it maintains freshness, and a darn good price point, while offering all the great Tawny notes. The 40 is totally spectacular, but at well over $100 it's more than most would like to spend.
Graham's 20 Year Tawny Port - email me and mention this blog, and I can get a bottle or more of this to you for $50.42.
- Michael Kunz