Vintage wines are made from grapes grown in a certain year and they are labeled as such. Many countries allow a little part of the grape quantity for vintage wine to not be from the labeled year, but not more than five percent, for example, in the United States. There is a special wine which is made only from grapes of a declared vintage year, also known as Port wine. This unique wine is a Portuguese wine and is fortified with distilled grapes spirits (similar to Brandy) to halt the fermentation and keep the rest of sugar in wine. This is the reason why vintage ports are much sweeter than other wines and the content of alcohol is higher, either 19.5% or 20%.
Vintage port is usually served after meals, like dessert wine and it is often consumed with cheese and even chocolate. Typically, it is a sweet red wine, but there can be also dry, semi-dry and white varieties. Vintage ports account usually for about two percent of the total port production in one year and they are not declared in every year as vintage wines, but more like a few in a decade. In the European Union, only the wine which is produced in Portugal is labeled as Port wine. This is why Port houses are aware of the importance to keep their reputation and they are very strict in declaring a wine as vintage port. In United States, vintage wines are labeled under Port, if the grapes from which the wine is made have their origins in Portugal.
After the vintage port is produced and fortified with aguardente (distilled grape spirits), it is stored and aged in barrels, which are kept in cellars. The period of ageing is approximately of two and a half years. Only after this time vintage ports are bottled, but for having the right age for drinking, the wine must stay another ten to thirty years to age in bottles. Really fine vintage port can keep gaining complexity for many years after it was bottled. This is the reason why these types of wines can only be found in expensive cellars.
Vintage wines bearing the port label are extremely valuable and with pretty high prices for the bottles that are older. Being much sweeter, richer and much heavier than most wines, port wine is considered by the experts a little treasure in their cellars and it may be a great gift for them, coming from a friend. People love to taste a glass of good wine, but if they would let all their senses to feel the whole experience, the result will be even more blissful.
Vintage ports are so special for wine experts. However, if the year is not so good, there will be no declarations of vintage port wines in that year. Being not that many in one decade, collectors of wines are passionate about this kind of fine wine. There are just very few types of wines that can be served only like a dessert and port wine is one of that.
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