Embrace the versatility of Port-style wines

While Port-style wines are arguably one of the most underrated categories of wine, it is also one of the most resilient. Port-style wines have faced many a challenge, with the last few years being no exception.

We as humans love making sense of things by putting them in certain boxes and sadly, the boxes created and allocated for the port-style wine have been limited and misrepresentative of the full potential of the category.

There are a few assumptions surrounding this category, one of which is that port-style wine is mostly reserved for the more mature consumer. The younger generation perhaps doesn’t know port as well and if they have tasted it and introducing the style to the younger consumer has proved a great challenge. Another unfortunate assumption, although it appears to be somewhat changing, is that the enjoyment of port-style wines is reserved only for the short three winter months, paired either with a dessert or a cheese board or enjoyed on its own. Port-style wines may be mysterious to the average and beginner consumer, but it is important to emphasize that the beauty of port-style wine really lies in its versatility. Port-style wine not only works well in cocktails, but also surprisingly well with main meal pairings, such as soups, curries, and red meat dishes like steak.

Port-style wines were also one of the categories that suffered most as a result of alcohol bans during winter, its main sales period, which was, ironically, some of the colder winters we have seen in the last decade. Yet, the category still stands strong, and it has to be added that while the bans limited crucial port sales, some have also argued that the initial, extended band resulted in desperate wine drinkers diving deep into their cellar and finally dusting off that bottle of port-style wine they have had in their cellar for years. Whether you have been saving it for a special occasion, or simply aren’t really sure when and how to drink it, life is definitely too short to not enjoy the pleasure and versatility of port-style wines.

It is precisely this versatility that encourages and allows for great levels of innovation. De Krans Wines has made massive strides when it comes to embracing the traditional port-style wine having just released their brand new ready-to-drink premium, sparkling cocktail, the De Krans P&T (Port-style and Tonic). This premixed cocktail is packed full of passion fruit pineapple and citrus flavours with a subtle tonic-flavoured aftertaste. De Krans also produced the first Cape Pink port-style wine back in 2008 and makes an Espresso port-style wine as well.

With winter officially here, it is time to talk traditional port-styles and whether this overview provides insight or some inspiration, we hope that you will try it out, find your favourite port-style wine and discover your favourite way to drink it. The De Krans Premium Cape Ruby, named after its brilliant, vibrant Ruby colour, is a non-vintage port-style wine, indicating a blend of different vintages to produce a well-rounded wine. The wine is smooth and has velvety tannins to compliment the ripe plum, blue and red berries with a touch of cinnamon, spice and violets, making it the perfect port-style wine to use for cooking (or baking). Go ahead and add the De Krans Premium Cape Ruby generously to your potjie or any meat dish in a slow cooker – guaranteed to take your meat dish to that next level. The Cape Ruby also pairs well with traditional Cape bobotie, waterblommetjie –bredie, rustic pastas and hearty soups.

If you are looking to enjoy your port-style wine either on its own or paired with a yummy dessert, you definitely can’t go wrong with the De Krans Cape Vintage, which pairs beautifully with a baked dessert like chocolate fondant, a piece of dark chocolate, or well matured cheese. Vintage ports also pair well with Karoo lamb potjie, venison pie or roasted vegetable lasagna. This port-style wine has a deep purple red colour, indicative of its intense, full and rich palate of red fruits, dried prunes, cocoa and spice.  Tannins are more prominent in this port and this style is made to bottle age (up to 20 years) or can be enjoyed at an early age as well. This port-style wine is an excellent, value-for-money and quality port-style wine.

Of all the different port-style wines, the De Krans Cape Tawny Limited Release is probably the most unique and different from the other port-style wines. It is named after its amber/tawny colour, a colour acquired by spending an average of eight years ageing in an oak barrel. Due to this ageing and slow oxidation, tannins are soft and fruity flavours have developed into nutty, toffee and caramel flavours.  The De Krans Cape Tawny Limited Release is an excellent alternative to sherry and best enjoyed slightly chilled. It not only pairs well with baked winter puddings like malva pudding, Crème Brûlée, as well as baked cheese with drizzled honey, nuts and rosemary, but will also elevate dishes like brown onion soup, loin of pork stuffed with dried fruit, or prawns prepared in a light Malaysian style.

The De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve, the flagship at De Krans, is truly something special. This port has a very aromatic nose of ripe red berries and a cherry, stewed prunes and dark chocolate, and is a dark black colour with a plum red rim. This port-style wine from De Krans has won numerous Platter 5-star ratings, Veritas Double Gold medals and various other accolades in the past 2 decades, including being named the best fortified wine in the South African Wine Report, by British Wine Master Tim Atkin. To truly experience and appreciate the quality of this exceptional wine, the Cape Vintage Reserve is best enjoyed on its own.  Alternatively, it pairs well with matured cheese. In addition, the Cape Vintage Reserve also makes an excellent gift, seeing as it can be stored and matured for up to 40 years (in favourable cool conditions, with the bottles lying down).

The recommended retail prices of these port-style wines are as follows:

Cape Vintage R129 per bottle
Cape Tawny (Limited Release) R240 per bottle
Cape Vintage Reserve R375 per bottle
Premium Cape Ruby R99 per bottle

For more information, or to order these wines online, visit www.dekrans.co.za.

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