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Chris Bibey

Types of Port Wine: 6 Port Wine Varieties for Restaurants

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Wine selection can make or break a restaurant, especially regarding the types of Port wine that are available. 

If you want to take your wine list to the next level, there’s no better time to learn about the many types of Port wine and where they fit in. You may soon find that a few additions can go a long way in attracting new customers, helping with customer retention, and boosting your restaurant profit margin.

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The 6 Most Common Types of Port Wine

There are more than 50 types of Port wine, so you won’t have trouble finding a few (or more) to add to your restaurant’s wine list. However, since you’re not likely to add every type, you want to focus on the most popular ones. These are the varieties that will attract and retain customers. 

Let’s examine the six most common types of Port wine. 

Key takeaway: There are many types of Port wine, but some are more popular than others. Ruby, Tawny, Vintage, White, Rosé, and Colheita are among the best choices for restaurants. 

1. Ruby Port

As the entry-level style of port, Ruby Port offers a simple, unpretentious character with a youthful, fruity profile reminiscent of fresh cherries and ripe raspberries. These ports are a blend of wines from several years and aged for two to three years in large vats to maintain their vibrant, fruity character. 

The sweet, full-bodied taste and deep red color make Ruby Ports an excellent choice for pairing with various cheeses or dark chocolate desserts. It serves as a perfect introduction for those new to the world of Port. If this isn’t your style, explore other wine pairing options that better suit you.

Why is Ruby Port Wine a Good Choice for Restaurants?

Ruby Port is a great choice for restaurants due to its versatility and affordability. It appeals to a broad range of customers, from beginners to Port wine connoisseurs, making it a reliable staple for any dessert wine menu.

2. Tawny Port

Tawny Port is one of the most distinctive types of Port wine due to its aging process. While Ruby Port is stored in large vats to retain its fruity flavors, Tawny Port is aged in wooden barrels, typically for 10, 20, 30, or even over 40 years. 

This process exposes the wine to gradual oxidation and evaporation, creating a beautiful brownish "tawny" color. The flavor profile is complex, with hints of caramel, nuts, and dried fruit, making it an ideal companion for desserts like crème brûlée or apple pie.

Why is Tawny Port Wine a Good Choice for Restaurants?

Tawny Port is an excellent choice for restaurants because it offers a unique, rich flavor profile that pairs well with various desserts. Its long shelf life, even once opened, means it can be offered by the glass without fear of spoilage, providing both an elegant offering for customers and efficient inventory management for the restaurant.

3. Vintage Port

The pinnacle of Port wines, Vintage Port is made from the best grapes of a single harvest, hence the name 'vintage.' Not every year is declared a "vintage" year - this only happens when the conditions are deemed exceptional. 

Vintage Port is aged for about two years in oak and then bottled unfiltered, and it can continue to mature in the bottle for several decades. Its powerful, full-bodied style, intense fruit flavors, and substantial tannins make it a fantastic pairing for robust cheeses or decadent desserts. This is among the most well-known types of Port wine.

Why is Vintage Port Wine a Good Choice for Restaurants?

Vintage Port is an exceptional addition to restaurant wine lists because it showcases what Port wine can offer. Its potential for long-term aging means that restaurants can offer an exciting selection of mature wines from different years, giving customers a unique experience that is hard to replicate.

4. White Port

White Port is made from white grapes and comes in a range of styles, from dry to very sweet. Most White Ports are aged for two to three years, though there are also aged versions similar to Tawny Ports. 

The flavor profile is fresh, often with notes of ripe citrus, apple, or almond. It's versatile in food pairing - the drier styles can be served chilled as an aperitif with nuts or olives, while the sweeter styles can be a great dessert wine or even used in cocktail drinks.

Why is White Port Wine a Good Choice for Restaurants?

White Port is a good choice for restaurants because of its versatility. It can be served as an aperitif, a dessert wine, or in popular cocktails. This versatility opens up a range of pairing options for the chef, allowing for innovative menu design and customer experiences.


5. Rosé Port

A recent addition to the world of Port, Rosé Port is made similarly to Rosé wine, with a brief skin contact to achieve a pink color. It's typically fermented in a way that brings out the fresh, vibrant fruit flavors. Rosé Port is typically served chilled and works well in summer cocktails or as a refreshing aperitif. Pair it with light salads, seafood, or fruity desserts for a delightful culinary experience.

Why is Rosé Port Wine a Good Choice for Restaurants?

Rosé Port is an excellent choice for restaurants because it caters to the growing market of Rosé wine drinkers, offering something unique and playful. Its suitability for chilled serving and as a cocktail ingredient allows for a broader range of beverage offerings, from aperitifs to dessert courses.

6. Colheita Port

Colheita is a Tawny Port made with grapes from a single vintage. It is required to age in wooden barrels for at least seven years, but many examples are aged much longer. 

This aging process imparts the beautiful tawny color and flavors of nuts, dried fruit, and caramel characteristic of Tawny Ports. A Colheita Port still retains some of the fresh fruit flavors of its harvest year, offering a unique balance between the vibrancy of Ruby Port and the complex maturity of Tawny Port. It makes a fantastic pairing with a variety of dishes, from savory roasted nuts and hard cheeses to sweet desserts like chocolate truffles.

Why is Colheita Port Wine a Good Choice for Restaurants?

Colheita Port is an excellent choice for restaurants because it combines the best of both Ruby and Tawny Ports, offering a unique flavor profile. Its ability to pair with a range of dishes, from savory appetizers to sweet desserts, provides restaurants with a versatile offering that can elevate their menu and create a more sophisticated dining experience for customers.

Which Port Wine Varieties are Best for Your Restaurant?

Now that you understand the most common (and popular) types of Port wine, you can decide which ones to offer in your restaurant alongside your house wine (and other varieties).

Remember this: the best wine bars and restaurants have exceptional wine lists. This can be the difference between success and failure. As a restaurant owner, wine bar manager, or bar owner, it’s your job to create your wine lists. If you need help choosing a few Port Wine varieties, consult with a sommelier while surveying your customer base. 

Restaurant Wine List Curation

Creating a wine list for your restaurant is both fun and rewarding. Once you’ve made your selections, learn more about BinWise and BlueCart

The BinWise Pro platform, combined with the BinScan mobile app, can bring efficiency to your inventory program. Additionally, the BlueCart order management system will allow you to stay ahead of orders, know your reorder point, and plan for food supply chain issues.

With all this restaurant technology on your side, you’ll always have the Port wine you need to best serve your current or future customers (if you're opening a restaurant).

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Frequently Asked Questions About Port Wine Varieties

In this section, we address some commonly asked questions about Port wine varieties. The knowledge you collect will help you make the right choices for your restaurant’s wine list.

Are All Types of Port Wine the Same?

No, all types of port wine are not the same. The types of Port wine vary based on factors like color, the aging process, and sweetness, resulting in distinct styles like Tawny, Ruby, White, and Vintage port.

How Do Port Wines Differ?

Port wines differ mainly in their production process and aging period, which lead to variations in color, flavor, and sweetness.

Which Port Wine is Best?

The "best" port wine is subjective, as it depends on personal preference. Vintage Port, due to its high quality and aging potential, is often considered superior to others. 

What is Ruby Port?

Ruby Port is the most common type of port, known for its deep red color and bright, fruity flavors. It's typically aged for a shorter period (about three years), resulting in a fresh, vibrant taste with less complexity.

What Differentiates Tawny Port From Other Port Wines?

Tawny Port is aged in wooden barrels, which allows it to develop a rich, nutty flavor profile and its namesake "tawny" brown color. It's often aged for longer periods, with designations of 10, 20, 30, or over 40 years indicating the average age of the wines in the blend.

How is White Port Different from Ruby or Tawny Port?

White Port is made from white grape varieties, unlike Ruby or Tawny Ports, which are made from red grapes. It offers a range of sweetness levels, from very dry to very sweet, and can be enjoyed chilled as an aperitif or mixed into cocktails.

What is LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) Port?

LBV Port is a ruby port from a single year, bottled between four and six years after harvest. While LBV offers some of the richness and complexity of a Vintage Port, it's typically more affordable and doesn't require lengthy aging to be enjoyed.

What Makes Vintage Port Special?

Vintage Port is made from the best grapes in exceptional years and is bottled without filtration, allowing it to mature and evolve in the bottle for many years or even decades. It represents the cream of the crop, often showcasing intense fruit flavors, complex secondary notes, and remarkable longevity.

What is Colheita Port?

Colheita Port is a Tawny Port made from grapes of a single harvest, aged in wood for at least seven years before bottling. It offers the nutty, caramel flavors of a Tawny with the added distinction of a vintage year.

What's the Difference Between a Crusted Port and Other Types?

Crusted Port is a blend of different vintages, bottled unfiltered and aged for several years, during which it develops a natural sediment or "crust". It offers the depth and complexity of a Vintage Port, but at a more affordable price point.

It doesn't matter if you're selling wine online or in a more traditional setting, the answers to these questions can help you secure more positive online reviews. And with that, you'll see your sales and profit go through the roof.

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