Vinho do Porto—called “Port” in English-speaking countries—is a fortified sweet wine from the north of Portugal. It is made of fermented grape juice, “fortified” with distilled grape spirits (similar to brandy). This stops the fermentation process (that is, the conversion of sugar to alcohol) resulting in a sweeter, lower proof wine. Because it is sweet, it is usually served after supper in small, stemmed glasses.
Some ports are “unfiltered” meaning there might be dregs settled at the bottom of the bottle. These need to be decanted or otherwise filtered-out. Some aficionados—those with a flair for the dramatic—will cleanly break-off the neck of the unopened port bottle using a wire, a candle, an ice cube and a sure hand. Supposedly, this prevents the dregs from being stirred-up during the assault of a conventional corkscrew.
The set of six crystal stems, shown above, are perfect for any after-supper nip. Whether serving port or sherry, the cut crystal bowls will catch the light nicely while the gently reeded stem provides a wonderful hand feel (1930’s-1950’s, $145). The snootiest (and most humorless) of connoisseurs might argue a difference between a port and a sherry glass, the latter being slightly taller (more flute-like). My advice? Use this glass for either and leave your know-it-all friends at home.
More newly-acquired vintage glassware tomorrow and in the days to come.