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Decanting Port

Bottle of PoerI enjoy Port, but I suspect that like many people, it tends to be a tipple which makes an appearance at Christmas.
It has a rather stuffy image, not helped by the somewhat confusing range of styles – Late Bottled Vintage, Ruby, White, Vintage…..
Our treat this year is a bottle of Fonseca Guimarens Vintage 1986 (can it really be 20 years!?) which comes with some helpful hints on decanting and serving. Essentially you only need to decant vintage port, as here the wine is aged in bottle. Other styles are aged in barrels and any sediment is filtered out on bottling.
The essence of decanting is to try to ensure that any sediment stays at the bottom of the bottle and does not get into the decanter. Standing the bottle upright for a few hours beforehand will ensure that the sediment sinks to the bottom – but care is needed to avoid disturbing the bottle too much when removing the cork – often easier said than done as the cork will often be a little stubborn. Pour slowly keeping the bottle below the horizontal as far as possible. Placing a light (traditionally a candle) behind the neck of the bottle whilst pouring will help to reveal any sediment moving towards the decanter. You may resent leaving the last centimetre or so of the wine in the bottle, but better that than to destroy your enjoyment of a glass with a mouthful of mud! You can always strain the remaining sediment through muslin and add to a sauce or gravy.
Vintage port should be consumed within 72 hours of decanting, although other styles will tolerate a few weeks before deteriorating.
The 1986 vintage may be available at George Hill of Loughborough
More info and advice available at www.fonsecaport.com

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