Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Port Tasting

This past Saturday Cathy of Red White Boston invited me to attend a free Port tasting at Federal Wine & Spirits located Downtown at 29 State Street. My invitation stemmed from responding to a mini contest in Friday's edition of the Red White Boston daily email "Why You Drink What You Do" in 15 words or less. My response: Sophisticated and classy meets I love the madness associated with a dirty vodka martini evening, won me a spot.
{Circa 2008 @ Delux}

Since I am always looking to expand my wine knowledge, combined with the facts that a) I had no Saturday plans, b) I live close by and c) I have walked by Federal many times but have never wandered inside, I thought why not take Cathy up on this fun little contest. I headed downtown for the 2:30 tasting time. The exterior of the liquor store is currently undergoing construction, but if you can see the little black circle in the bottom of the shot, that's were I was headed!
It is located adjacent to the Old State House.
Unsure of what to expect, I entered under the construction facade into a tiny hole in the wall jam packed with wine bottles.
The staff who were extremely welcoming, noted my interest in the building and and explained to me the hand painted tiles on the wall date back to the 1800's and came over from the Netherlands - specifically the dutch village of Delft. The green tiles as seen above the door in the tiny vestibule are extremely rare.
Onto the wine tasting.
I love how there are bottles just tucked into the crevices of the walls.
I felt like I was on a mini adventure as I wandered to the cellar and around tiny hallways filled with boxes and boxes of wine and liquor.
Our host Peter had a number of Ports for us to taste, all varying in age and complexity.
We began with a 9 year old Quinta de la Rosa Finest Reserve.
He explained this was similar to your basic table wine, a less complex port to start. Next, we tasted three vintage Burmesters, the first an LVB (Late Vintage Bottle) Porto aged five years (a baby compared) in oak vats in order to preserve the deep color and fresh fruit flavors. The second was a 2001 which moved up in complexity and tasted little drier than the previous. The third was a real treat - a 21 year old vintage Colheita Porto. Aged in small oak casks since 1989, the result, as you can imagine, is a different character all together. Tawny in color with an intense aroma, this extremely complex wine with delicate flavors goes down smooth and lingers on the palate. A crowd favorite, we all gladly accepted second and third tastes. Peter told stories and offered advice as he poured, such as how to choose wine as a gift for someone: ask how old they are, where they grew up, and what they're having for dinner. Solid. We learned that certain grape varieties are an endangered species. The Pugnitello, a dying vine was actually found in an Italian woman's backyard and brought back to a normal existence. Oh yes, all sorts of fascinating stories were told as I enjoyed these sweet - but not traditionally sweet (the English made them sweet, Peter explained) Port wines in the basement of what was once an Old Belgian Chocolate store and is now the cellar at Federal Wine & Spirits.

17 comments:

  1. I am a loser when it comes to wine but I do like to taste them, sounds like you had a great time

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love love love port! And this looks like such a unique tasting. I've been to a few tastings and definitely prefer the tawnies. My ultimate vacation involves going to Portugal, visiting wineries and - because I am clearly wealthy in this fantasy - then continuing on to the Mediterranean. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a quaint little store! Sounds like a fun afternoon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow...awesome! I really like port, but I never know how to pick a bottle out in a store.
    ...and I love that martini glass!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this place! It is right by my work and I'm always popping in there during my lunch break (this sounds worse than it is) to pick up a bottle for a quick gift or for after-work plans. Congrats on winning the port tasting!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sounds like an incredible place - I need to stop in at some point in my life, if only just to admire the Delft tiles! (I'm seriously obsessed with Delft tiles, but am kicking myself for not buying tons of antique ones when I visited the country seven years ago.)

    I bet the class was so much fun! I just made a new friend who happens to be a sommelier, so I'm hoping to pick up a few things from him!
    ---
    Jessica
    Style Obsession

    ReplyDelete
  7. I know zero about wine but I do know that you MUST go to Aureole in Las Vegas because you will be in wine heaven!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'll make up excuses just to be in a tasting. Though I'm an avid vodka martini fan, I'm quite intrigued, too, and find it really fun to have a taste of something different. And because I have an upcoming Halloween party, I've been looking around for some really cool cocktail drinks recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You take absolutely beautiful pictures! The one of you drinking your martini is so funny...love it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very cute place! I should go to a tasting sometime. I want to learn more about wine.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Port is my very very favorite!!! This looks like SUCH a fun afternoon- congratulations on winning a spot!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I actually love port but haven't had it in years! I think it might be time to buy a bottle again!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a great day...with wine! Daph loves Porto, but we haven't been able to find one here he likes. He'd love that! =)

    ReplyDelete
  14. That looks like such a cute shop, and sounds like it was a successful tasting! I haven't tried many Port wines, so I'd love to go to a Port tasting!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thats our Friday afternoon liquor store! So close to our work. Great post- very informative, as always : )

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love that liquor store - its very convenient to my office, and the staff is always really friendly and helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  17. what a charming spot! i love it! did you buy any of the vinos you tasted?

    ReplyDelete