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.
Quinta Santa Eufemia NV 30 Anos White (Port)PortugalThis dry wine with its wood acidity balanced by the intense concentration ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$75
Quinta Santa Eufemia NV 20 Anos White (Port)PortugalThis fine spicy aromatic wine is softly textured with toffee and caramel ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$40
J. H. Andresen NV 40 Year Old White (Port)PortugalThis beautifully balanced wine is rich and concentrated without any sign of ...See Full Review$40
C. da Silva 1968 Dalva Dry White Colheita (Port)PortugalThis rich wine is concentrated with layers of wood aging balanced with ...See Full Review$425
C. da Silva 1971 Golden White Colheita (Port)PortugalThis intense wine is finely balanced, showing acidity as well as the ...See Full Review$175
Vallegre NV Vista Alegre 40 Anos White (Port)PortugalThis sweet-styled wine shows a fine intensity as well as soft toffee ...See Full Review$185
Van Zellers 2004 Palmer Colheita White (Port)PortugalThis mature wine is ripe and balanced with a fine poise between ...See Full Review$45
C. da Silva NV Dalva 20 Anos Dry White (Port)PortugalWood and spice mingle comfortably in this rich, medium-dry wine. It has ...See Full Review$52
Kopke 2007 Colheita White (Port)PortugalRich, jammy and full of sweet orange flavors, this is a rounded ...See Full Review$57
Vallegre NV Vista Alegre 20 Year Old White (Port)PortugalThis wine, balanced between acidity and mature fruits, shows attractive juicy wood ...See Full Review$58
Niepoort NV 10 Anos White (Port)PortugalRich and jammy with deliciously fresh lemon-curd flavors to balance, this is ...See Full Review$40
Quevedo NV 30 Years White (Port)PortugalThe concentration of this wine with its long wood aging is never ...See Full Review$99
Van Zellers 2007 Colheita White (Port)PortugalFirm, dry and showing its wood aging quite strongly, this is a ...See Full Review$35
J. H. Andresen NV 20 Year Old White (Port)PortugalThe wine's acidity comes as much from the wood as from the ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$20
C. da Silva NV Dalva 40 Anos Dry White (Port)PortugalA rich while still dry wine, this is concentrated and dense with ...See Full Review$150
Quinta do Mourão NV São Leonardo 10 Years Old White (Port)PortugalRipe orange-marmalade flavors show strongly in this wine with its balance between ...See Full Review$48
C. da Silva 1963 Golden White Colheita (Port)PortugalThis sweet style of Port is surprisingly soft for its age. It ...See Full Review$220
C. da Silva 2007 Dalva White Colheita (Port)PortugalThis is a tangy tight wine with plenty of acidity and wood ...See Full Review$35
Quinta do Vallado NV Branco White (Port)PortugalThis is an attractive wine, tangy with both acidity and ripe fruits. ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$20
Van Zellers 1962 Palmer Colheita White (Port)PortugalThere is fresh lemon here as well as the obvious concentration of ...See Full Review$300
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