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Chef Dave Here from The Laughing Pear Group with a Little Insight Into Port Wines


Hello to all my fellow foodies across this great nation and around the globe.  I hope everyone is done with the Thanksgiving left overs.  If not, may I come to your house and rid the fridge of all the Thanksgiving day fare?  Please do not get me wrong, I loved our dinner.  But I used to have a step mother who would keep Thanksgiving day food for weeks at a time, and some not even frozen.  Long story, but I think I said it all there.  I am sure some will agree,  I had to do the cooking this year in my home and boy did we feast.

I just wanted to talk to you about something very near and dear to my heart; especially as a Chef.  Port wines!  I use them almost daily in some form or another.  Most of the time it may be just a simple Port Reduction or a Port Gastrique.  Do yourselves a favor, you will not believe how easy this is, and how this will enhance the flavor of fish, meats, and even pasta dishes.  Go to the liquor storeand buy a bottle of Tawny Port Wine.  Take that $5/$6 dollar bottle of wine and reduce it down to at least 2/3rd’s of what was in the bottle.  Yup, dump the whole bottle into a sauce pan.  Start it at a high heat and reduce to medium-high heat as soon as it comes to a boil.  You can burn this easily and since much of the sugar has been extracted from the wine, whew-whee, will that bad boy be hard to clean.  Also, you can over do the reduction to much.  So reduce it to 2/3rd’s and see how it looks.  Do not let it fool you either because when hot, it is more like a soupy liquid.  (So this is called a REDUCTION.  But what is a reduction exactly and what does it say in our dictionary?   ” Taking a liquid, like a stock, a wine, or a type of sauce mixture and rapidly boiling it to allow the liquid to evaporate, yet making the flavor more intense and thickening the liquid as well”.*)   Sometimes, in this Chef’s opinion, if you boil or simmer the reduction to long it may become bitter.  I am rambling once  again.  Back to the Port wines.

I will assume some in the reading audience may not know where Port wine is from.  You guest it right.  They are wines from the  Portuguese City  of  Oporto.  There is a specific region in Northern Portugal’s Douro Valley that has exacting regulations for producing quality port wines.  There are four basic categories of Port Wine. 1. Vintage 2. Tawny 3. Ruby 4. White.  Within these four basic categorizes there are many types.  I will tell you this, a vintage port is considered the best and most expensive.  This port must be made from grapes of a single vintage and only from the “Best” declared (Those to be considered superior) vintages.  Vintage Ports must be bottled within 2 years, but the very best up to 50 years.

I wanted to share a little of what I know of Port Wines.  We could go deeper, but gotta feed my Pyrenees.  If you would like a more serious history lesson on Port wines, please by all means give me a shout.  Remember for flavoring your foods: Port Reduction.  Moreover, if you want something that tastes really good; measure 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup Ruby Port and 1 cup sugar.  Place all together and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon with a semi coated layer.

Thanks and I truly hope this was a bit of a learning exercise.  Plus, all I do is discuss food, never wines.  So there you go.  CHEERS AND BON APETIT!

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