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Bottle of Port for a Gift

November 8, 2012
Question by: Gitz, Scarborough CA, USA


I am looking to buy a nice bottle of port for my husband as a gift. I know the older the better and more expensive :) My question is, is there a better brand that I should be looking for and where can I find one to buy.


Hi Gitz, Port is indeed a wonderful gift, and it need not be expensive.  All of the Symington Port brands are among the most highly regarded and sought after in the world, consistently praised by critics and much awarded in international blind tasting competitions.  To help you select a Port, first think about the taste profile your husband would enjoy - while Port is fundamentally a sweet wine, the different brands have distinctly sweeter or drier, more luscious or more austere profiles:

Graham’s – is the richest and sweetest of all our brands, very full bodied and luscious
Dow’s – has a drier profile, and a character dominated by fruit and peppery tannins, can be austere in youth but matures magnificently
Warre’s – is elegant, balanced, has wonderful finesse
Quinta do Vesuvio – produces concentrated, powerful wines characterised by ripe fruit
Cockburn’s – is drier, like the Dow’s, but its character is generally more developed than Dow’s due to a higher wood to wine ratio throughout the ageing process

Vintage Port is the classic gift, as it can be enjoyed at the time of purchase or laid down for future pleasure.  You might think about trying to find a Vintage from your husband's birth year, or some other significant year in his life (e.g. the year of your wedding, his graduation, a promotion).  To see which Ports were declared or bottled in the year you have in mind, look at the top of the left hand bar of this site - it says Knowledge Base, and there is a drop down for year - scroll through to select your year, click Go! and you will get a page with a general overview of the winemaking and conditions that year, and clickable icon buttons for every Vintage Port we made that year.  The individual Vintage Port profile pages include tasting notes from top critics as well as many in-house tasting notes.

When buying Vintage, bear in mind declared Vintages under the brand names listed above will generally be the more expensive choices.  You might look at buying a Quinta Vintage Port (such as Graham's Quinta dos Malvedos, or Warre's Quinta da Cavadinha), which are often made in non-declared years.  These are good value alternatives, giving all the pleasure of a Vintage Port at a lower price point.  Another choice would be buying one of our niche brands such as Smith Woodhouse, Quarles Harris or Gould Campbell, if available in your area - all of these Ports are made by the same winemaking team that produce our top brand ports, but because these brands have smaller distribution and a generally lower market profile the prices even for declared Vintages are generally a bit more modest.  Critics often praise these brands as being standouts for both pleasure and price-value.

If either your budget or local availability rules out Vintage Port, consider a fine old Tawny or another style of Port which is generally less expensive.  Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) or Crusted Ports have similar taste profiles to young Vintage and are good value alternatives (but note they are not meant for laying down).  Take a look at our Guide to Port Styles to learn about other styles of port. 

We are unable to give price guidelines, as pricing is driven by local taxes, but you might try a site like Wine Searcher to get some ideas of price levels and availability in your area.  Finally, if you have any trouble finding the wine you want, look at the website for our American importer, Premium Port Wine.  On the PPW Contacts Page you will find contact information for our distributors within each state (and within California, several different regions), as well as for PPW themselves. 

Impresso em

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