The holidays are officially upon us, and you might be wondering what sort of wine to get for the big day. This day could be Christmas or Hannukah or Kwanzaa or Yule, but every celebration worth celebrating comes with a big feast, which of course begs the question – what will you drink with it?
Here are some friendly pairing suggestions from your favourite wino.
I love the holidays. Clementines, pine trees inside the house, ornaments, the food (my god, the food!), the lights – I want it all! One of the things I love most about the holiday lead-up is mulled wine. It’s something I only have a couple of times a year so, like lots of holiday things, it’s pretty special.
A year or two ago my wonderful friend Katie gave me mulling spices and I’ve been breaking them out over the holidays ever since. Along with the spices she also gave me a simple recipe for mulled wine, which is the one I use when making this delicious drink.
Easy peasy! (click to enlarge)
This past weekend I invited some friends over to decorate my apartment for the holidays and decided to tempt them into manual labour by offering to brew (is it brew?) up some mulled wine.
All ready to go.
Let me tell you – it is incredibly easy to make mulled wine! As long as you follow the recipe, anyway. The first time I made it I decided that, since I don’t like oranges, I would omit the zest and juice the recipe calls for. Big mistake – turns out that citrus flavour is kind of crucial! I learned this the hard way when I tasted the wine – something about the heat and the spices and the lack of citrus to balance it made it taste completely sour and downright gross! It’s still a running joke between my mom and I – hot sour wine! HOT SOUR WINE! Anyway, take it from me and don’t omit the citrus.
Citrus – a crucial ingredient.
Glug glug glug
Into the pot they go!
Finished and ready for consumption! (Note to self: get fancy glass mugs for next batch)
My minimal efforts yielded a deliciously wonderful accompaniment to decorating and listening to Christmas music. My friends even brought over chocolate chip cookies! Christmas festivity achieved.
Fast forward to this past weekend, when I was tidying up the bar area in my apartment and was faced with the same gift box, sad and a little dusty, patiently waiting for me to give it my attention.
Confession time. I am a hoarder of things I love. The more I like or appreciate something, especially gifts, the more I put off enjoying it. I am a nut for anticipation apparently! Friends make fun of me for being able to resist the sweets in my cupboard for months and months, sometimes to the point that they go bad and have to be let go. And the ultimate case in point is this lovely gift that I’ve ignored for months. Sorry, Mom!
But no more. I finally opened the box up and enjoyed its contents, a bottle of Taylor Fladgate 2009 Late Bottled Vintage port.
Simple and classy.
What Port is All About
Port is a fortified wine made in Portugal, mostly the Douro region. It comes in both red and white varieties and, like a lot of European countries, is often a blend of a bunch of different grapes. Port is higher in alcohol content so the serving size is 3 ounces instead of the standard 5 ounces usually poured for wine. Port is often aged for a period of time in barrels before being bottled and sold. Personally, I find that port often has a richer flavour and body compared to regular wines, which is a big reason why I love it. Heads up though, it can be sweeter than regular wines, so keep that in mind when trying out this delicious nectar.
Late Bottled Vintage port has its beginning as port that was barrelled with the intention of being bottled as vintage port but because of a lack of demand it was left in barrels even longer. Poor sad port, all alone in its little barrel! I’ll save you! Come hang out with me and we’ll be friends! Delicious, delicious friends.
One step closer…
These are typical port glasses. Except these are TF branded, because they’re AWESOME.
But enough about history and pictures of unopened bottles. What does this stuff taste like? Well, let me tell you, it’s GOOD. It took a couple of minutes to get anything off the nose because I’d just opened it up, but after that it started giving up some lovely mellow, sweet, warm notes. It’s easy to tell the sweetness in port because the inside of the glass had so many legs it looked like a film coated the whole thing. The flavour was just wonderful. Smooth and fruity with great sweetness and spiciness all mingling on my tongue. If you like mulled wine, pumpkin pie or mincemeat tarts you will love this port.