Port comes in two main styles. Tawnies are aged long-term in cask, becoming slightly oxidized and turning brownish in color. Rubies are bottled much sooner, retaining a freshness and ruby red color. Tawny pairs well with Marcona almonds and hard cheeses like Pecorino or aged Gouda. Ruby prefers walnuts and blue cheeses. Both work well with chocolate and as a winter warmer.
Kopke 10 Year Tawny, $30
The 10-year designation denotes the average age of the wines in the blend. A translucent chestnut in color, the aromas are a mix of candied fruit, walnuts and fresh baked sticky buns. Creamy caramel and dried apricot mark the sweet palate, balanced by a cleansing hit of acidity. A nice bit of heat comes through on the finish.
Fonseca Bin 27, $15
Like non-vintage Champagne, vintage character ruby ports strive for a consistent house style by blending different lots from different years. Fonseca's entry is an opaque garnet in the glass, while light fruit cake aromas mark the nose. The flavors are round and ripe with dark berry, chocolate and caramel. A great value.
2011 Taylor-Fladgate Late Bottle Vintage, $23
Ruby ports from declared vintages are bottled within 2 ½ years, designed to age and improve in the bottle for a decade or more. Late bottled ports are also made from a single vintage, but spend four to six years maturing before being bottled and are ready to drink on release. This Taylor-Fladgate is a great example. Heady chocolate and cherry aromas burst from the glass, while silky red berry and cherry truffle flavors caress the palate.