An Introduction

Port is a wonderful and unique Portuguese dessert wine with centuries of history. However, there are many Port styles, and they differ significantly. From Port for everyday enjoyment to authentic collector’s items and everything in between, the glossary of terms below will help you navigate the intricate wine style.

Oporto (Port) is a wine appellation with strict production rules in the vineyard and winery. Producers in the area, the vineyards along the Douro River, often with decades of experience, craft Port with local red and white grapes. Typical red grapes include Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. White grapes include Codega, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho.

What makes Port special is the process of fortification. Winemakers stop fermentation before the yeast consumes all the sugar in the grapes with the addition of distilled grape alcohol, resulting in naturally sweet wine with elevated alcohol. Once fortified, the ageing process usually determines the final style. However, Port production is much more complicated, resulting in the following Port types.

Ruby-Style Port - Bottle Matured

Ruby Port

Ruby Port is one of the least expensive types of Port. The wine is fruit-forward and approachable. It is made by blending young red wines, often from several vineyards and vintages, which age for between 2 and 3 years before being filtered and bottled. Ruby Port is meant to be enjoyed young, as it won’t evolve with ageing. Ruby wines are undated.

Ruby Reserve Port

Ruby Reserve is higher-quality Ruby Port, and they share characteristics. This is also a combination of young red wines from several vintages, but the wine is richer and more concentrated, as the wines used are often of higher quality. The ageing process is also longer than regular Ruby Port, of up to six years, but the wine is still filtered and bottled young. Ruby Reserve is undated.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port

Unlike Ruby and Ruby Reserve Ports, LBV Port is made with wines from the same vintage. The wines are blended and aged for up to six years in concrete tanks or barrels before being bottled. LBV might not be produced every year. Some LBV is filtered before being bottled and is ready for immediate consumption, while others might be bottled unfiltered, resulting in wines with extended shelf lives. LBV is always dated.

Vintage Port

Vintage Port is the most famous and coveted Port style and is often the flagship wine for the region’s wineries. Vintage Port is also part of the Ruby family, as it ages in the bottle rather than a barrel. The wine spends a maximum of eighteen months in a tank or barrel before being bottled. Vintage Port is bottled unfiltered, resulting in a concentrated wine that will shed sediment as it evolves in the bottle for decades. Vintage Port requires several years to become approachable and is always vintage dated. This style is not produced every year.

Single Quinta Port

Single Quinta Port is made similarly to Vintage Port, but the grapes come from a single estate, often a single vineyard. Typically, these wines age for 2-3 years before being bottled unfined and unfiltered, resulting in concentrated wine that ages well as it sheds sediments.

Crusted Port

Blended wines from several vintages that are bottled soon after fermentation, similar to the process behind Vintage Port. Producers must store the bottled wine for at least three years before releasing it to the market to allow sediments or ‘the crust’ to form. Crusted Port is not vintage dated.

Tawny-Style Port - Wood Matured

Tawny Port

Tawny-style port spends more time in barrel than its Ruby counterpart, at least three years. Ageing gives it its brown/tawny colour. The wine displays fewer fresh fruit aromas but more intricate bouquets with hints of spices and oxidation. Tawny Port is the most straightforward style in the category; it is inexpensive and easy to drink. Tawny Port is filtered before bottling and is not vintage dated.

Tawny Reserve Port

Tawny Reserve Port is richer and more complex than regular Tawny, as it is made with high-quality wines. It spends at least seven years in barrel before being filtered and bottled. This style displays more dried fruit aromas and spices than youthful wines. Tawny Reserve Port is not vintage dated.

Aged Tawny (10yr/20yr/30yr/40yr)

Tawny Port can spend decades in barrels before being filtered and bottled, resulting in complex wines that increase in quality and price. The year statement in these wines indicates not age but a target age profile achieved by blending wines of various ages.

Colheita Port

Single-vintage Tawny port is aged for at least seven years, although it is often released at least a decade after the vintage. Colheita’s flavour profile varied depending on its age. These wines can age but don’t produce sediments like Vintage Port.

Other Port Styles

White Port

White Port is a fortified wine made in the Douro Valley with local white grapes. It undergoes a similar process to red Port but results in a golden-coloured sweet wine. White Reserve Port is more complex than a regular White Port, and White Port with age designations also exists.

Rosé Port

Developed in 2008, this innovative Port style is youthful and vibrant. It is made with red grapes that undergo short maceration periods. The wine is fortified to achieve a natural sweetness that complements its fruit-forward personality.

Douro Wines

Other Port Styles

Wines labelled with the Douro appellation are made in the same region as Port and with the same grapes. However, these are not fortified wines; they are still table wines with no residual sugar. Although not a Port style, Douro wines are another expression of the Douro Valley.

Our Port Supplier - Niepoort


Niepoort ports are a Dutch family established in Portugal since the 18th Century and producing quality rather than quantity. Niepoort has been described as “the Rolls Royce of Port”.
Pierre writes: "My first experience with Niepoort goes back to 1975, when armed with courage and conviction, I met in Oporto about 10 different potential suppliers and Niepoort was my lucky choice. Rolf the father and then Dirk carry on supplying us with constant high standards. This is our only non French product. Non je ne regrette rien!"
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