Vino In My Dino

#PairItWithPed: In Port We Trust

December 1, 2020 11:11

#PairItWithPed: In Port We Trust

Port and the holidays go hand in hand and so does winter-the cold weather just calls for a little extra something at the end of the evening. Our Four Grapes Vintage Port is a traditional style dessert wine. I'll pair up what I think are some great recipes with this dessert wine-savory or sweet you'll find something to pair up this winter.

First up some background on why we make a traditional style of Port. To be clear this isn’t a late harvest wine-it is made from four Portuguese varieties we have planted on the Home Ranch: Tinta Madeira, Tinta Cao, Souzao and Touriga Nacional. It isn’t the last fruit in during harvest, rather it is picked when ready. Once the fermenting has begun the process is stopped by adding neutral spirits (unaged Brandy) in order to have some residual sugar. Typically there is 19% alcohol and 9% residual sugar.

Why did we choose to make this wine? Our neighbors Raymond Burr and Robert Benevides were the first to plant these varieties in Dry Creek Valley. They did this for two reasons: Robert is of Portuguese heritage and Raymond wanted a wine he loved to be served to his many guests to their ranch. We made the first vintage in 1990. Coming from a half acre there was too much for their guests so we bottled it under Burr-Benevides Vineyard and it became very popular in our tasting room as guests discovered its unique qualities. Winemaker John Pedroncelli traveled to Portugal and the Douro Valley to learn more about this dessert wine and how he should go about making it here in California. The rest is history, well almost.

The vineyard first planted by Burr-Benvevides became a victim of virus and only a few years later needed to be pulled up. Our sales were doing so well John decided to make way for the four grapes to be planted on the Home Ranch. These vines are now 25 years old and well established. The combination makes a delicious fortified wine-one that ages for 3 or more years in neutral barrels which adds the necessary complexity and layers of flavor. Today there are only a handful of acres of these varieties in California but did you know American vintners have been making port-style fortified wines for almost two centuries. Prior to Prohibition, port wines accounted for about 20 percent of all domestic wine production. At the turn of the 20th century port was California’s best-selling sweet wine. In the years prior to Prohibition, California wineries made about 5 million gallons of port annually. Even during Prohibition, port accounted for about 20% of all legally produced California wine.

To experience this tasty wine I have a few recommendations. I am one of those Cheese Course enthusiasts where the cheeses complement the wine-using blue mostly but I would suggest an aged Gouda as well. A simple brownie sundae especially with a dark chocolate sauce would do nicely. Reduced and poured over vanilla ice cream is a winner too. Simply in a glass shared with friends and family is another way to end a meal and a memorable evening. And if you have the patience this wine develops well with time in the cellar.

A few highlights from the collection on our website-happy baking and cooking with this versatile wine!  

My favorite 3 ingredient recipe comes from an event a Dry Creek Kitchen several years ago. I named it Portspresso as it is a 50/50 blend of both espresso and our Port with a dollop of chocolate whipped cream! Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen has carried our Four Grapes Vintage Port since the day they opened!

Ed developed this Pork Tenderloin with Port Sauce recipe many years ago and it stands the test of time. 

These Mini Chocolate Cupcakes Cousin Maureen Davison made were based on a recipe I found on the internet using Cabernet-I asked her to incorporate the Port and she created these tasty little treats. 

Brownies! With port-soaked dried cherries and a ganache that gilds the lily. This recipe was shared with me by Joanne Young of Robert Young Estate and she used our port in it. It has been a star dessert over the years. Port Soaked Dried Cherry Brownies with Port Chocolate Ganache

As an appetizer these French Onion Bites with Port-Onion Jam developed by Tasting Room Manager Gary will be the perfect starter (and the bonus is if there is enough leftover ‘jam’ you can use it in many ways including as its own side dish).

There are so many recipes to enjoy either with our Four Grapes Port or including it in a dish. Enjoy pairing your favorite dessert or dish and let me know your perfect Port pairing. Send me the recipe ( is always room for more on our page. 

Our Portuguese blocks in the fall.


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