I often resolve to drink more Port. I love it in all its manifestations (white, ruby, tawny, vintage and, especially, colheita. Yes, there are a few affable rosé versions but those are brand one-offs.) I always resolve drink a few of them in the upcoming winter. This winter has been no different than the last many. I just don’t pull them out, stand them up to let their sediment drop and, finally, pull the cork. I’ve at least figured out the issue. It’s not me! (Whew!) It’s the lack of other willing friends with which to enjoy the bottle.
Now, I’m not for lack of wine friends. Nor am I at loss for drinking partners in general. However, the polarizing style of this fortified wine is the source of my debacle. Take away the alcohol, the sweetness and the extraction, and everyone says they’re on board. Well, great…go drink Douro table wines! Those are lovely, too, but the two wine styles have different purposes. The problem is a little like dessert itself. Once we get to that point of the meal, we’re often too satiated to enjoy it.
I’ve had some magic nights end with vintage Port (and, on occasion, an accompanying cigar.) However, one of my most memorable Port experiences began a day of festivities – a Christmas Day – with a 1945 bottling (a venerable vintage sourced lovingly at Berry Bros & Rudd) and served with the crumbliest, most delectable Stilton cheese. This, by the way, is a smart way to enjoy your most treasured Ports. Make it the debutant of the day!
However, colheita Port is the style that most profoundly rocks my soul. I’ll never forget a half bottle shared in the Library Bar of the Vintage House in the heart of the Douro, a 1934. Only a year into the wine business, this was the kind of wine that made me believe all the challenges of forging my way into the wine arena might one day be worth it. I love old vintages (of any wine) not only for their depth of complexity but also for the reminiscing about the moment in time when the wine was made…what was happening in the world….
In honor of #PortDay this year, I’m planning to open a 1937 Burmeister’s Colheita…given to me as a present four years ago and time to open. So, thinking about 1937…
- The US was hobbling through the Great Depression
- Howard Hughes set a record for a Los Angeles to New York City flight (7.5 hours)
- FDR was sworn in for a second term
- The Golden Gate Bridge opened
- Picasso painted “Guernica” in a response to a Spanish Civil War bombing that occurred earlier that year
- Amelia Earhart and Fred Noon disappeared over the Pacific in Amelia’s attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world (I wrote a book report on this in 9th grade)
- Trotskyists were accused of trying to overthrow Stalin
- Daffy Duck made his first appearance on screen
- George Gershwin died at the young, vibrant age of 38
- Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England
- The last Bali tiger died
- The Free Irish State became Ireland
- Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs debuted
- The German Zeppelin Hindenburg bursts into flames with passengers and crew on board (I wrote a book report on this in middle school)
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck was published
- A school in New London, TX suffered a crippling natural gas disaster (295 teachers and students perished)
- And, the hospital I was born in, Mother Frances, was built in response to the New London disaster.
Isn’t it crazy how much history a bottle of wine can evoke?