"All wine would be Port if it could."
The Center for Wine Origins has declared that January 27 will be Port Day, a celebration of this unique fortified wine from Portugal. What another grape/wine day? Yes, but this is one I support for a couple reasons. First, because I feel Port remains an under appreciated wine and efforts to raise awareness of it are worthy. Second, because I also support efforts to protect the designation Port, as it should only be used for authentic Port from Portugal. Around the world, numerous producers label their own fortified wines as "Port" and I don't feel that is right, even where it is legally allowed.
In 2010, the total quantity of Port Wine produced was about 6.7 million cases, a reduction of more than 10% since 2007, and production does seem to be on a continual decline. As for the purchasers of Port, France is the largest, buying about 28.5% of all Port production. Holland, in second place, purchases about 14.2% while Portugal itself, in a close third place, purchases about 14%. The U.S. occupies sixth place, buying only 3.9%, roughly 374,000 cases of Port which includes 107,000 Reserve Ports, 77,000 Ruby and 70,000 Tawny. U.S. purchases of Port have been generally declining though from a high of 4.6% in 2006, except for a slight boost in 2010 from 3.8% in 2009. So Port in the U.S. needs some support as obviously not enough people are enjoying the pleasures of Port.
Port Types include the following (and probably a couple others as well): White, Rose, Ruby, Tawny, Reserve, Reserve Tawny, Tawny with Indication of Age, Colheita, Garrafeira, Late Bottled Vintage, Crusted, Vintage, and Single Quinta Vintage. As you can see, there is plenty of diversity to explore. For added variety, over 100 grapes are permitted in the production of Port though only a small portion of those grapes are commonly used.
"Port is not for the very young, the vain and the active. It is the comfort of age and the companion of the scholar and the philosopher."
How can you participate in Port Day? You can blog, tweet, post and share your thoughts about Port from Portugal by using the #PortDay hashtag. In addition, you can host or join an online or offline tasting event at one of the numerous retail and restaurant tastings that are being planned in locations across the United States. There is a Port Day event site where you can find local events of register your own event.
As part of this celebration, the Center for Wine Origins is even hosting a special Contest to encourage U.S. consumers to photograph their favorite authentic Port wines. To enter the contest to win an iPad 2, contest entrants need to send a picture of an authentic Port label to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line as “Port Day 2012 Photo Contest Entry” or post the picture to your Facebook profile and tag yourself and the Center for Wine Origins in the picture. One Grand Prize winner will be selected randomly on January 25 and receive an iPad 2. Complete contest rules are available here.
How will I be celebrating Port Day? Well, you already may have seen that one of my resolutions for this year was to get more involved with Port and Madeira. I presently have a few Ports to sample and review, and on January 17, I will be attending a local Port dinner at Legal Sea Foods which should be a good opportunity to assess how different types of Port pair with food. And I am still pondering other ways in which I might celebrate.