The port wine has been made since 300 years and belongs to the category of the fortified wines. The fortified wines are made by increasing their alcohol content by adding a specific quantity of brandy during the fermentation.
At first, this process was carried out in order to prepare the wine for the transfer by sea from one continent to another. Fortified, the wines could resist to humidity and temperature swings.
Now the fortified wines are multiple and it's complicated to understand what the labels refer to. You can be confronted to different styles, that are created thanks to a difference in aging.
Some of the varieties used for red port are Latouriga, Tinta cão, Tinta barroca, Tinta Roriz or Tempranillo and French Toutiga , while for the creation of white port the Malvasia king, Malvasia thin and Codega are used.
The styles of port:
Vintage Port: This is the highest category of port wine. It is made from the finest grapes from different vineyards are bottled between the second and third year without a filter. The minimum aging time is 10 to 15 years.
Porto Crusted: These wines are hard to fine. Also called encrusted because of the sediment left in the bottom of the bottles. They are like vintage wines, but they are made from mixtures of two to three different crops. They must be decanted before drinking.
Porto LBV: The initials indicate Late bottled Vintage. Developed since the 60s, they are bottled after spending 4-6 years in wood, from what it takes its dark and powerful flavour.
Garrafeira Port: This port spends seven years in the pipe, then is aged for approximately 40 years in carboys. They are very durable and retain their qualities intact.
Tawny: It can be identified by its brown color, obtained by contact with the wood between 5 and 7 years. After the process it will spend 10, 20, 30 or 40 years bottled before release.
Porto Ruby: A classic red port wine, its taste is fruity and its color as indicated by its prestigious name : ruby.
Porto Branco, Blanco or White: One of the less popular port as it is overshadowed by the red.