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World’s most famous fortified wine “port wine” is more than just a sweet red wine and officially considered as the vintage wine in many European nations. The tradition and culture in Europe has made the serving of port more interesting thereby providing a special place in many formal dinners and occasions.


Uniqueness of the Dessert Wine “Port”

Port Wine originates from Portugal is a sweet, red and fortified wine. The word “port” resembles to one of the Portugal town Oporto, from where the wines are exported. It is generally termed as the best dessert wine consumed in small glasses after regular food. The sweetness of the wine is because of the controlled fermentation. The fermentation is stopped before yeast turns all the natural sugar into alcohol. The fermentation is stopped by adding brandy when the alcohol level reaches around 7%.

The port wine is mostly famous because of the unique blend of the variety of Portuguese grapes. More than 52 varieties of grapes are grown in Portugal including:

  • Touriga Franca
  • Touriga Nacional
  • Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo)
  • Tinta Barroca
  • Tinta Cão

Each grape adds a unique flavour to the blend. For example, Touriga Nacional adds blueberry and vanilla blend, and Touriga Franca adds raspberry and cinnamon blend.


Exploring the Douro Valley of Portugal

The market for wine making in Portugal was started in late 1174, when the kingdom was established. The country is surrounded by Atlantic Ocean from West and South making it most favourable for sea trade. This has attracted many merchants from U.K and later in the 14th century a Treaty of Windsor was signed to boost the trade of wine from Portugal to UK in exchange of salt. As the trade grown the demand for finer wines from English consumers increased. Though the wine is being prepared in all over Portugal but the British prefer the wines of the upper Douro valley in the hinterland of Porto. Later the port wine become more popular among many European Countries.


European Tradition: Passing the Port to the Left From the Host

These sweet wines are perfect for hot days and sometimes consumed well with spicy foods like Indian and South Asian. This kind of wines are preferred mostly in Europe, with Britain and France being the largest importer. The consumption of port wines is associated with many myths and traditions among Christians. This is also a symbol of luxury product and hence the upper class British people consume it in many formal dinner and parties. It is also believed that ladies should not touch the port bottle and should always be passed to the left from the host. When the port is consumed at British meals, as per the tradition one will always pour the drink in the glass to the person sitting next to them. You cannot pour their own drink but to the person to your right and your glass will be filled by the person to the left. The bottle or decanter will keep moving in the clockwise direction until it is finished. No one is allowed to break the chain and if someone does so then they will be informed by asking politely “Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?’’. This is just a gentle reminder to get the decanter moving again. The origin of this saying is related from the year 1805-1837 when there was a Bishop of Norwich lived to age of 93 years. During his older days, he had limited eyesight and used to forget to pass on the decanter on table breaking the chain of wine consumption tradition. Thus in the recent times people use to say this in memory of that incident to get the bottle moving.


Browse through the Styles of Port


Ruby wine is the most common of all and is aged for 2 years. The rarest port wine is the vintage wine, which is aged for 10 to 40 years. The ruby port wine is widely available and costs less compared to tawny and vintage port wines. The tawny wine is the fastest-growing port wine. The tawny wine is aged in small barrels, which enable the wine to oxidize, hence have spicy aroma and is rich in flavour reminiscent of dried fruit and nuts. Young consumer base prefers quality over quantity with cost-effective benefits and tawny wine is the perfect option. Thus this segment is witnessing the faster growth rate.


The First Glass of Port: Ruby Port

Due to cost effectiveness of Ruby port, it’s recommended to start with a glass of ruby wine. Whereas the vintage one is not consumed so often rather it is only for some special occasion. Ruby port is considered as the youngest wine and can be enjoyed immediately after opening the bottle without decanting. This is served with fruits, cheese and other desserts at a cool room temperature of around 64 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit. Ruby port can be kept up to 3-4 weeks after the bottle opening whereas the tawny ports can be kept in freezer about a month or two. The port is served in specially made 8 ounce stemware glasses and is enjoyed slowly noting its colour, aroma and flavour.


Port Wine Consumption Trend

According to a study undertaken by Grand View Research, the port wine market was estimated to be USD1.37 billion in 2018. The European region dominates the market with more than 45% and is witnessing a significant growth of nearly 3.6% of CAGR in the forecasted period. The following chart illustrates the growth of the port wine market from 2015 to 2018 and the expected growth from 2019 to 2025.

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The prominent reason for the dominance in the market is the fact that the port wine has its origin in Europe. The consumers in Europe prefer to have it with their dinner and is a traditional drink for the Europeans. The countries like Spain, the U.K., and France are among the top consumers of port wines. Europe is good for the production of grapes, especially Spain and thus, is the largest consumer of port wine in Europe.


Author’s Bio: Piyush Singh is an Analyst (Level II) at Grand View Research. Grand View Research is an India & U.S. based market research and consulting company which help clients make informed business decisions. Piyush works with the consumer goods domain and has been a very diligent and meticulous professional.