As we have already said, Porto has a full right to be called just wine, made from grapes and produced in the blessed plain Dora. Only 10 sorts of red grapes and 2 sorts of the white one, growing there, are considered to be “recommended” to make the marvelous drink, several more – are allowed, and the rest are just permissible. The grapes vine grows on the high stony terraces of the plain and its roots are reliably covered with a layer of cracked slate, providing the roots with humidity, protecting them from heat at noon and at cold nights giving them the saved in the daytime warmth. That’s the reason why grapes here ripen with completely unique characteristics. It is picked by hands, as it is possible to get to the plantations only on foot. For the most famous Porto grapes are pressed with feet till nowadays, as it is believed that it’s the only way for the stones in them to remain safe, not to spoil the bunch.
The picked grapes are loaded into automatic presses, and then it ferments in tans until the sweetness of the wine is of necessary condition – that is the very moment when the wine-growers decide if the future Porto is to be sweet, half-sweet, dry or very dry, and then it becomes a real port. It happens when in the ferment mass aguardente “fire water” is added; otherwise it is brandy, which stops the process of fermenting. Aguardente may be prepared from pears, grapes or other fruit, but for Porto only aguardente is used, which is prepared from the cake of grapes, and its quality is scrupulously controlled. The wine is separated from mezga and poured into different capacities and kept in wine-making households – kints. Here the port is going to stay till spring, when it will be delivered on trucks, which are used today instead of special barges, to Vila-Nova-De-Gaia.
In the city the first result of the harvest is taken to the expert, who values the density and the color of future noble drink, arranging the spurt of the wine on the surface of a convex porcelain saucer and trying its taste, clears up how famous the grapes of the very year will become. If, to the luck of the wine-growers, the harvest will be recognized unique, then the majority of it will be taken to make stores of Porto Vintage. Indeed, the result which is recognized by experts only in one book is not so famous, though the experts do value the Single-kinta Vintage. However, in the right way, the year will be announced vintage for the Porto only when the experts of not less than 9 famous kints will name the harvest of the year successful.
The Porto Vintage is distributed into bottles and ripens in them; they say that to taste the vintage years earlier than after 15-20 years – is a vain spending of sources. However, if you are going to buy a box or two of Porto for future, then it is worth tasting.
The white sorts of Porto are divided into “lagrim” – sweet like Christ’s tears, medium-dry and completely dry. In this connection, traditionally the Portuguese think that women, who earlier were not used to drinking Porto, prefer “lagrima”, and men – white dry. Anyway, this division for the real experts is the same kind of trifle as the existence of men’s and women’s perfume.
One more big subdivision of Porto has the name of “tauni”. There are experts, who recognize “tauni” among all kinds of Porto as the only real one , and having tasted this drink, we can agree with them. Not a single Porto has that clear and whole color, marvelous fragrance and rich aftertaste as the well –mellowed “tauni”.
The whole Porto is poured into bottles of dark glass in order to protect from the sun rays. It should be kept in the lying position, for the cork not to get dry. The open bottle of ordinary Porto can stay several weeks, but the access of air may play a bad trick with the owner, and the marvelous drink may become a liquid for goats. The more mellowed is Porto, the less it can be kept – 30-40 years old Porto should not be kept longer than 3-4 days.
At the time of degustation the tour-guide-expert tells the tourists about all the types of the Porto offered and pours it in turn into all the wine-glasses. First value its color, and observe the traces it leaves on the special wine-glass-tulip. Slightly shaking the glass, feel the soft fragrance, going up high above the walls of the wine-glass. Bend and feel it deeper. The first slight sip should just confirm the opinion of the magnificence of the Portuguese drink and assure your wish to throw away all you things and fill the suit-case with Porto.
Leave the wine-glass in peace – the guide will first let the tourists taste different sorts and he will tell about them, after that he will leave them in silence with the poured in glasses splendid drink, and the travelers will be able to enjoy the solitude and the quiet talk with the wonderful wine.
Nevertheless, Porto is a treacherous drink, especially on an empty stomach. It may exhaust quicker than vodka, as to snacks – they are not offered while degustating the wine. That is why tourists, coming out of the wine cellars, should remember – to repeat the unforgettable taste is to be done only after a full dinner. In that connection, the Spaniards, who are used to having only tapases in their homeland, can state that nothing is needed to Porto, the English prefer to drink the blessed wine with blue cheeses, as to the Portuguese, they say that there is nothing better than a plate of different cheeses and coffee with a glass of Porto. And it is necessary to agree with them. Red Porto is also good with fruit and chocolate, while the white dry Porto is good with shrimps, and “tauni” is good itself or with coffee and cigar.