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Port-style wines … perfect for winter

Winter and lockdown. It’s a time we’ll be staying indoors. But look on the good side. Evenings spent in front of the fireplace, snuggled up under a blanket, and a glass of great port-style wine. Nothing wrong with that, at all.

During the past decade, port-style wines have both managed to evolve in its versatility (think of the De Krans Cape Pink, which is used as a cocktail mixer), and expanded on the traditional styles (the tweaking of a Cape Vintage to produce a lovely and unique dessert wine called Espresso).  It is also almost 10 years since the EU agreement that every port-style wine bottled outside of Portugal may no longer display the word ‘port’ on the label.  Taking into account that there are various styles of port, all ‘port-style’ wines originating from South Africa exhibit the word ‘Cape’ in front of the style, for example Cape Ruby, Cape Vintage.

For those of you who’re unfamiliar with these port-styled wines … quite simply they’re simply a style of wine and classified as a fortified dessert wine, and are higher in both sugar and alcohol compared to a regular wine. Some, like De Krans Wines, produce port-style wines in a slightly drier style than most other producers, giving the wine a more sophisticated mouthfeel.

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If you’re a keen cook, you’ll be pleased to know these port-style wines are excellent to cook with. The first that comes to mind is the Cape Ruby, one of the traditional styles of port with the name of the port referring to its brilliant ruby colour. Add De Krans Premium Cape Ruby generously to your potjie, or any meat dish in a slow cooker … trust us when we tell you it’ll take your meat dish to that next level. Don’t be afraid to experiment here. Some other De Krans port-style wine based inspirations include Cape Pink honey glazed pork chops served with mustard mashed potatoes, Cape Vintage glazed oxtail served with rice, as well as a Tawny Port Pecan Nut Pie.

These port-style wines are also obviously magnificent to drink … either on its own or paired with a dessert or cheeseboard. The De Krans Cape Vintage is a perfect introduction to enjoying port-style wines and pairs well with a baked dessert like chocolate fondant, a piece of dark chocolate, or well matured cheese. It has a deep purple red colour, indicative of its intense, full and rich palate of red fruits, dried prunes, cocoa and spice. It can, if you can bring yourself to not enjoy in immediately, keep for approximately 20 years in bottle when stored correctly.

Another port style wine that works well on its own or as a pairing, is the Cape Tawny, also a traditional style. Named after its amber/tawny colour, a colour acquired by spending many years ageing in an oak barrel, the De Krans Cape Tawny Limited Release has been in oak for an average of eight years.  Due to this ageing and slow oxidation, tannins are soft and fruity flavours have developed into nutty, toffee and caramel flavours.  It’s an excellent alternative to sherry and best enjoyed slightly chilled, and also pairs well with baked winter puddings like malva pudding, crème brûlée, as well as baked cheese with drizzled honey, nuts and rosemary.

If you’ve someone you want to spoil, the De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve is the ‘crème de la crème’ of port styles. It cn age for 40 years or more in bottle when cellared correctly, and only the best grapes are selected, and the best barrels used to produce the final product. This port has a very aromatic nose of ripe red berries and cherries, stewed prunes and dark chocolate and has a dark black colour with plum red rim.

And when there’s a celebration, use of these two wines in a delicious cocktail. De Krans produced the first Cape Pink in South Africa in 2008 and it has been a great success … it is pink in colour, as well as a bit lower in alcohol (around 16 per cent) and has fresh berry flavours as well as candy floss and a floral note.  It works well with ginger ale and mint leaves, or mix it with ginger beer, bitters and a shot of gin. Coffee flavour more your style? Try a  De Krans Espresso Martini. While the De Krans Original Espresso is not strictly speaking a recognized port-style wine, it is made from two Portuguese varieties, Tinta Barocca and Touriga Nacional. Classified under dessert wines, it has a coffee, chocolate and spice flavour.

Of course, all port style wines are equally delicious on their own, but why not try something new the next time you grab a bottle of De Krans!

You’ll find these port-style wines at your local bottlestore for around Cape Ruby (R95), Cape Pink (R95), Cape Vintage (R125), Original Espresso 375ml (R95),   Cape Tawny (R259), Cape Vintage Reserve (R375). Details: www.dekrans.co.za.

WIN …

We’re giving away three hampers of port, worth around R600, to three readers. Simply visit Get It National Magazines on Facebook, like our post and tag a port-style wine loving friend, and you’ll be in the draw. Entries close 1 July.

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