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Food Pairing with Vintage Port

November 7, 2011
Question by: Paulo, LIsboa, Portugal

Q:

I would be most grateful if you could tell me what are the best food pairing for young vintage, middle age vintage and old vintage.  Thank you very much.

A:

Hi Paulo, One classic pairing with a full-bodied, fruit-driven younger Vintage Port is a dark chocolate dessert of some kind - in fact Port is frequently cited as the only wine that pairs really well with chocolate.  At tastings and wine shows we often provide chocolate of 70% cocoa or more to enhance visitors' experience of young Vintage Ports and at Quinta dos Malvedos Branca, our cook, makes a wonderful dark chocolate mousse to serve with Vintage Port at the end of meals - most recently I have enjoyed this with the Malvedos 1999 Vintage Port.  If you prefer a savoury accompaniment, a strong blue cheese like an English Stilton is another classic accompaniment, or a full flavoured Portuguese cheese, such as a Serra da Estrela, or São Jorge. 

With older ports in their prime - 20 to 40 years - where the red and black fruit character has transitioned to dried fruit, honey, caramel, even tea or cigar box notes, you may prefer to try another style of cheese, one which has character and full flavour but not so sharp or salty - a mature but not too sharp Cheddar, a Serra da Estrela, or some of the cured goat or sheep cheeses here in Portugal.  Creamier desserts like a crème brulée, or a natas pastry may work well. 

With very old Vintage Ports, which become incredibly elegant and complex, and often have an extraordinary finish, you may wish to skip accompaniments, and simply savour the Port itself without distraction.  At the Factory House, very often walnuts and dried fruits, such as apricots, will be offered.



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