How Port Became a Wine Staple Through Trade Agreements
“Port” is fortified wine originating from Douro Valley in Portugal. Historically, Portuguese wine gained popularity because of an increasing demand from British consumers. This consumption forced merchants to travel further into the Douro region in search of more wine. When they arrived at the upper reaches of the Douro region, they found that area’s wine to be more robust with longer-lasting effects due to the climate of that region.
Did you know? The first demarcated wine region was created in the Douro, and its creation is due to attempts to produce Port wine in other regions and consequently decreasing its quality. With the creation of the demarcated region, it sought to regulate the production and marketing of wines made in the Douro region.
But problems arose when they looked for ways of transporting that wine to Viana do Castello, the renowned commercial hub of the British at the time. The wines had to be loaded onto ships along the Douro River and shipped to Oporto (Porto) before being sent off to England for British merchants. Port was fortified to keep it from spoiling during the extensive travel.
When did Port Gain Significance?
Port gained significance in 1174 with the kingdom’s establishment in Portugal. Portugal gained enormous fame due to its long shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, which attracted many merchants for trading. In 1386, Portugal signed a treaty with England establishing trade alliances.
Wine Policy and Trade in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union
By the mid-15th century, more than half of the ‘Port’ wines were exported to Britain. In 1678, this wine achieved its peak popularity.
The Methuen Treaty
In 1703, the Methuen Treaty (also known as the Port wine treaty), was signed between both countries during the early years of war between England and Spain. According to these rules, Portugal would exchange port wine for English textiles made of wool cloth. This treaty played an enormous role in increasing the popularity of this wine and the industry. Before Port, people were buying wines made in France, but England’s war with France resulted in a ban on the importation of French wine, and people started to buy “Port” wine instead. The treaty also resulted in repercussions for the Spanish sherry industry in Jerez, a Cadiz province.
Port Wine Today
Today, port wine is an important part of the Portuguese wine industry and is produced in the Douro Valley region of Portugal. It is made from a blend of grape varieties, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franc, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Barroca, and is known for its rich, sweet flavor and complex aromas.
There are several different types of port wine, including ruby port, tawny port, and vintage port. Ruby port is a young wine that is aged for a short period of time and is known for its bright, fruity flavors. Tawny port is aged for a longer period of time and is known for its nutty, caramelized flavors. Vintage port is made from the best grapes of a single year and is aged for a longer period of time before being released.
Port wine is traditionally served as an after-dinner drink and is often paired with cheese, chocolate, or other desserts. It is also used in cooking and can be added to sauces and marinades to add depth of flavor.
Port wine is enjoyed by wine enthusiasts all over the world and is an important part of the culture and cuisine of Portugal. It is a highly prized and sought-after wine and continues to be an important part of the Portuguese wine industry.
On this day
January 27: International Port Wine Day