Red Port wine

Red Port wine

The tradition of making port wine has usually involved creating the drink from red grapes such as the Tinta Barocca, the Touriga Naçional, and the Tinta Çao. These are all grapes of Portuguese origin, although many have since been transplanted into South Africa. Some of these wines, such as the Tinta Barocca, have been in the area around Cape Town since the early eighteenth century, and may have been brought by Portuguese colonists to Africa. The Touriga Naçional is perhaps the most difficult to grow, but it does seem to manage well in the South African soil. The wines produced from these grapes tend to be rich, dark and flavourful.

Red ports are sometimes described as Tawny Ports. This particular style of port is made by aging the wine in barrels, gradually maturing the liquid into a golden brown or honey colour. The oxidation also means that the port takes away certain nutty or woody flavours from the barrels. The best types of red port wine are sweet, often similar to dessert wines. The Tawny port in South Africa may be titled a Cape Tawny, or a Cape Red, due to new legislation which effectively limits the naming of port to wines produced in Portugal.

In traditional port making, there are two other varieties of wine which originate with the tawny. The first is known as Colheita, and is a port wine from a single year. The Colheita may have been aged for 20 plus years before being put into bottles. The other type of Tawny port is known as Garrafeira. This is a single-harvest wine that is matured first in oak barrels, and then in demijohns made of glass. There are restrictions on how many years the Garrafeira may spend in each of the maturing stages before being bottled.

An alternative to the Tawny red port is known as Ruby port. This is perhaps the type of port which is most well known, being cheap and made in large quantities. This wine is fermented, and then stored in stainless steel tanks in order to avoid oxidation. Due to this storage, the port keeps its distinctive ruby colour, rather than browning as Tawny does. The ruby port is often blended in order to add taste to the product before being bottled. South African wines of this nature will probably be described as Cape Ruby in the future. In addition, once a ruby port has been created, it can then be called Reserve or Vintage, terms which are used to describe a port that is of very good quality.

Aside from these types of red port, it is also possible to find wines which contain both red and white ports. The rosé port, rather a new addition to the South African wine market, will probably be classed as Rosé Cape for the future. This port has been created by blending the wines, and also by removing the skins of the red grape prior to fermentation, producing a lighter colour in the port.