White Port is a white fortified wine from the Douro region of Portugal.
Port wine takes its name from Portugal’s second-largest city, Oporto (also known as Porto). Though the wine is produced in the rural Douro Valley, the city is the wine’s spiritual home. Traditionally, Port wines are matured and eventually shipped from the Port lodges along the riverfront of Villa Nova de Gaia.
White Port is produced from a blend of different white wine grape varieties, with the best known including Esgana Cão (known elsewhere as Sercial) and Malvasia Fina. Both are better known as two of the four noble grape varieties used in Madeira production. Other white Port grape varieties include Arinto, Cercial, Donzelinho Branco, Folgasão, Gouveio Branco, Rabigato Branco, Viosinho, Vital and Verdelho, to mention just a few of those permitted and recommended by the industry’s regulatory body, the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto.
Production of white Port is quite similar to that of red Port, with a key distinction being a shorter (or non-existent) maceration period for white Port. In both cases, the alcoholic fermentation is arrested by the introduction of a neutral grape spirit of about 77% alcohol-by-volume. The high alcohol kills off the yeast before it has had time to complete alcoholic fermentation, meaning before all the grape’s sugars are fully converted into alcohol. This process is known as fortification, and results in a fortified wine that is high in both sugar and alcohol. White Port typically has somewhere between 16.5% and 20% abv.
A typical white Port shows a golden color, aromas of honey and nut, and has low acidity. Even those white Ports labelled as “dry” or “extra dry” will have some residual sugar, and sweetness levels range from off-dry to fully sweet.
Most producers mature their wines in neutral vessels of stainless steel or concrete. Some white Port is aged in wood casks, however, to impart color and complexity. Wood-aged white Port tends to show a darker gold color, more complex aromas and a distinctively nutty character. Most white Port is aged for no more than three years, often closer to 18 months.
Higher-end white Ports may be bottled and labelled with a designation of age, not unlike an aged tawny Port. Producers of very high quality white Port may release 10-, 20-, 30-, or 40-year-old white Port.
The sweetest style of white Port is known as Lagrima, meaning “tears.” These wines are highly viscous, so when swirled in the glass they readily show “tears” or “legs.” Lagrima-style white Port is rarely exported, intended primarily for the domestic market.
White Port is most often served as an apéritif or as a cocktail ingredient.
When you’re searching for the perfect after dinner drink, browse Wine Enthusiast’s online database. You’ll find hundreds of reviews on white Ports and other quality wines to help you in your selection.
Taylor Fladgate NV Chip Dry Extra Dry White (Port)PortugalThis is a great aperitif Port, served with ice and with tonic. ...See Full Review$19
Ramos-Pinto NV Adriano Porto White Reserva (Port)PortugalPale gold in color, this white Port is soft and rich. It ...See Full Review$18
Borges NV Soalheira 10 Years Old White (Port)PortugalIt's sometimes forgotten that white Port can also be aged in cask ...See Full Review$20
Prager 2013 Aria White Port (Napa Valley)NapaBottled in 2017, this dessert wine is made entirely from Chardonnay and ...See Full Review$50
Crown Point 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara)Central CoastA deep, velvety purple color in the glass, this bottling by proprietor ...See Full Review$150
Borges NV Reserva Branco (Port)PortugalPort made from white grapes is a great cocktail base (think white ...See Full Review$14
Barão de Vilar NV Ten Years Old White (Port)PortugalThis gold-colored wine has been aged for an average of 10 years ...See Full Review$15
Messias NV 10 Years White (Port)PortugalThis dry style of white Port offers caramel and dried-fruit flavors, with ...See Full Review$40
Kopke NV 30 Years Old White (Port)PortugalDark gold in color, this Port relishes its age. Like an aged ...See Full Review$89
Kopke NV 20 Years Old White (Port)PortugalKnown for its seemingly unlimited stocks of aged tawnies and white Ports ...See Full Review$60
Kopke NV 10 Years Old White (Port)PortugalLike their more familiar aged tawny counterparts, aged white Ports take on ...See Full Review$39
Kopke NV 40 Years Old White (Port)PortugalThis is a limited quantity release from the Kopke's stock of aged ...See Full Review$150
Kopke 1935 Colheita White (Port)PortugalThis was a great vintage Port year, and this white Port, which ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$980
Quinta da Devesa NV 30 Years White (Port)PortugalAt 30-years-old, white Port and its more familiar cousin tawny Port are ...See Full Review$58
Kopke 2003 Colheita White (Port)PortugalAlmost a baby in Colheita Port terms, this is a bright, ripe ...See Full Review$51
River's Edge 2013 Indulgence Pinot Gris (Elkton Oregon)Southern OregonThe winery's regular Pinot Gris approaches 15% alcohol, and this takes it ...See Full Review$12
Ports of New York NV Meleau White Specialty Wine White (New York)New York OtherCoffee grinds and caramel mingle with hints of popcorn and dried herbs ...See Full Review$45
Quevedo NV 30 Year Old White (Port)PortugalNow golden in color, this intense wine is very fine indeed. Acidity, ...See Full Review$99
Cairdean Estate 2011 Dessert Wine Zinfandel (Napa Valley)NapaThick in chocolate and blackberry jam-like goodness, this is a smooth, lush ...See Full Review$58
Quinta do Vallado 2013 Reserva Branco White (Douro)PortugalOne of the two estates in the Douro still in the hands ...Cellar SelectionSee Full Review$50
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