Saturday, January 28, 2017

Port or Porto - Port Wine in French Cuisine. Port on French Menus

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Tawny Port wines
Port wine is produced in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.  Within the European Union, only the Port from Portugal may be marked as Port or Porto while the USA allows any country to call their product Port. How to make Port is no longer a secret and most New World wine producers also make Port-style wines,  but often the original creators still make the best Port.
Port is a fortified wine; that is a wine that has an eau-de-vie, a young grape brandy, added to the fermenting wine in the barrel. The addition of the eau-de-vie stops the fermentation and creates a new wine with a higher alcohol content.  Most Ports have around 20% alcohol.

Ports include red, rose and white Ports. Sweet reds are the Port most often used in sauces, and red Port may also be served as a dessert wine that will be chosen from among any of the red Ports. White ports may be on your menu with sauces made for seafood and fish dishes, and chilled sweet white ports may be served as an aperitif.
Three different Ports.
How a Port is aged is not clear from the label.
Ports are aged in barrels and later in Glass demijohns. A Port demijohn is a large glass bottle that may be anywhere from 8 liters to 25 liters, (2.10 gallons to 6.6 gallons) and more. The Port aged in barrels for a long time takes the oak flavor from the barrel and the darker color as well as being more viscous as the wine thickens from evaporation. The Port wine producer chooses the size of the barrel carefully as that affects the evaporation; larger barrels have less wine exposed to the air.  The Port aged in a demijohn is affected by the heat and cold where it is stored and will be smoother.
Glass demijohns.

Port wine on French menus:
Cassolette De Filets De Caille Sauce Port –  Slices of quail breast prepared with a port sauce. The cassolette is the name of the bowl in which the dish is prepared and may be served.  In French culinary tradition, the name of a bowl, pan or other kitchen equipment is often included in a menu listing.   N.B. Do not confuse a cassolette, a cooking bowl, with the similarly spelled cassoulet which is a heavy winter stew.
Quail breast
Served with goose liver cream, truffle oil, and French beans.
Filet de Boeuf Salers au Poivre de Sarawak, Jus Corsé au Porto – A fillet of Salers beef prepared with Sarawak pepper and a sauce made from the beef's natural cooking juices and Port. Sarawak pepper is directly related to the more well-known peppercorns and grown on the island of Borneo in Malaysia, but it is milder than the pepper raised elsewhere and is aromatic. The Salers beef is a Label Rouge, red label, beef that is highly rated.  The Salers beef on your menu will probably come from a bull as the Salers cattle also produce the milk behind the Cantal and Salers cheeses.
Fricassée de Rognons de Veau à la Crème et à la Moutarde à l'Ancienne, Flambés Au Porto - Stewed veal kidneys prepared with a mustard flavored cream and flambéed with Port.  Moutarde à l'Ancienne is an old-style coarse-grained, mild mustard while Dijon-style mustards are creamy, spicier mustards.
Langoustine et Noix de Saint Jacques, Sauce Flambée au Porto BlancDublin Bay prawns and the meat from the king scallop flambéed with a white Port.
Dublin Bay prawns on sale in a market
Magret de Canard Sauce Porto, Pommes de Terre Duck breast prepared with a port wine sauce and served with potatoes.
Poire Pochée au Porto – A pear poached in Port.
Ris de Veau Braisé, Sauce Porto et Poêlée de Légumes – Braised veal sweetbreads served with a Port sauce and mixed fried vegetables.
The different Port wines:
Colheita Port
A Colheita Port comes from a single vintage aged Tawny Port; it is not blended and the vintage year will be on the label. Colheitas are aged in small barrels for at least seven years, and that provides the source of their color, and you may sense a slight oak taste. Colheita Ports hold just 1% of the market but are appreciated far more than their market share suggests.
A Colheita Port.
Crusted Port
Crusted port is a blend of port wine from several vintages with both red and white Crusted Ports being produced. These Ports are aged for a minimum of two years in barrels and then another three years in glass demijohns. Crusted Ports are bottled unfiltered, and they need to be decanted and filtered before drinking.
Garrafeira Port
Garrafeira Port is a vintage Port from a single year. These Ports will have spent at least three years in barrels, and then another six years in glass demijohns before bottling.
Late bottled vintage (LBV) Port
Late Bottled Vintage Ports are called LBV Ports.  LBV Ports are bottled later than other Ports and will have been aged in oak barrels for between four to six years. An LBV Port is ready to drink when bottled and most do not need to be decanted.
Reserve Port
Reserve port is a premium Ruby Port blended from red wines and aged in barrels for two years. Many of these wines may have the name Special or Finest or another word attached to the name Reserve; however, these other names are the producer's idea, and the age and production process is the same as wine just labeled Reserve Port.
Rose Port
Rose Port is a new Port that was created in 2008 by two producers; it is a form of Ruby Port. The fermentation of the wine is made in a similar manner to a rosé wine; the grape juice has very limited exposure to the grape skins, and that allows for a rosé rather than red color.
Ruby Port
Ruby Port takes its name from the red color of ruby gemstones. Ruby Port is the most popular Port and the least expensive.
Ruby Port
Single Quinta Vintage Port
These wines come from a single vineyard, and similar to Vintage Ports are aged in oak barrels for at least two years before bottling without filtration. 
Tawny Ports are wines made from blended red Ports aged in wooden barrels.  The barrel aging for Tawny and other Ports allows for evaporation and oxidation. The longer Port remains in the barrel the wine will experience color changes finally reaching a golden-brown. The exposure to oxygen and the wood of the barrel adds an oak flavor to the wines.
Vintage Port
Vintage port is made entirely from the grapes of a declared vintage year and accounts for about two percent of overall port production. The decision on whether to declare a vintage is made by the producer alone in the spring of the second year following the harvest. All Vintage Port wines are closed with a cork and need to be opened with a corkscrew.
White Port
White Ports will be on the menu as a base for sauces served with fish and seafood, and as a base for cocktails,  Apart from sauces and cocktails, White Ports are often served chilled as an aperitif.  
White Port.
How Port became famous.
Port became popular in England after the Methuen Treaty of 1703, a commercial treaty between Portugal and England. At that time England was, as usual, at war with France and wine merchants could not legally import French wines. Port, like other fortified wines, traveled well in barrels and this treaty saw English merchants becoming very involved in the sale of Port. The English also created their own Port wine products with English names that will be seen on many labels including Cockburn, Croft, Graham, Osborne, Sandeman and Taylor.
Keeping Port wine at home.
Port, like other wines, should be stored lying down in a cool cellar in the dark as light damages port. Since most of us do not have wine cellars, until opening, Port is best kept in a cupboard.  When opened most Ports will keep well for a few weeks and they should be stored standing up.
Storing and serving Port.
Red Port should be served between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius (61 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit) while White Port is usually served chilled.
The size and shape of Port wine glasses.
While there is no single accepted size for a Port wine glass it is generally agreed that Port should be served in a glass that looks like a small and shorter wine glass. Since the standard Burgundy wine glass holds around 400 ml (13.5 oz), that makes the correct size of Port and Sherry glasses around 200 ml (6.7 oz).
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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
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