Archive for the ‘portugal’ Category


The mere mention of fortified wine may summon imagery of young adults with bottles of MD 20/20, Thunderbird or even Scotsmac (Wikipedia – fortified wine, 2010), however, there is a much classier side to fortified wines with, perhaps the classiest being port.  Alongside this classy beverage have grown a number of somewhat interesting and somewhat bizarre behaviours, also known as ‘port-iquette’ (for an amusing overview, see Intowine, 2010).  The history of port production stretches back to the 17th century and strict protocols surround its making, aging and naming.

Taylor’s is a 300 year old producer of most types of port, but they are also investing in the future of port production by devising ‘Port-Toes’ to replicate the manual treading of grapes in an automated manner (Taylor’s, 2010).  Additionally, Taylor’s have a Port Professor working for them who provides notes on sampling their beverages, judging their ages, decanting tips and hints on matching port to food (Taylor’s, 2010)


This experiment was designed to investigate numerous characteristics of Taylor’s 20 year old Tawny Port including, but not limited to, aroma, flavour, colour and satisfaction.


Glasses of Taylor’s 20 year old Tawny Port were purchased in a restaurant for NZ$23 each.  The samples were delivered by wait staff and were determined to be between 16 to 18oC.  Aroma was evaluated by smelling the port.  Flavour was analysed by tasting the port and discussing it with a research collaborator at great length and, subsequently, satisfaction was assessed.  The glass was held up to a standardized light to evaluate the colour and aesthetic aspects of the vessel were considered from the Taylor’s website.


Results for Taylor’s 20 year old Tawny Port are shown in table 1 below.

Table 1. Characteristics of Taylor’s 20 year old Tawny Port.

Characteristic Result
Aroma Rich, dried fruit with honey and a smidgen of vanilla prompts a researcher to exclaim that “it smells like Christmas”, although the researcher did not distinguish between their preconceived ideas of Christmas and that port was a part of that, or whether it actually tasted like Christmas itself
Flavour Mellow, but substantial amounts of raisiny prunes slide effortlessly onto the tongue and linger to reveal an undertone of honey
Colour An orangey-yellowish-brown synonymous with ‘tawny’ port
Satisfaction It is hard to imagine a finer way to finish a meal than with port
Vessel Design A matt-black bottle, embossed with the 4XX crest of Taylor’s and swathed in a classic white label with a big ‘20’ on it
Drinkability 9


The bizarre behaviours of the “port classes” may on first inspection appear to be the foibles of posh, eccentric people with far too much time on their hands.  However, beverages of this quality seem to almost demand rituals and reverence.

The easy-drinking of Taylor’s 20 year old Tawny Port could lead people to conclude that the beverage holds mysterious therapeutic properties in the way that “the British Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger when a boy, was given port for gout.  He began at the age of 14 (1773) with a bottle a day” (Wikipedia – port, 2010).  Truly not a bad medicine at all.