They came across the inland wines of the Duoro – robust, full bodied, and more suitable for the British palate. They had found the perfect wine for their new market. However, a problem arose: these wines took far longer to transport, and preservation became an issue. Here is where a little, innocuous decision led to the Port we know today.
The British fortified the wine with grape brandy to help preserve its quality during its journey. They transported the wine down the Duoro River to avoid the wild mountainous land terrain, taking it through to the city of Oporto. Thus, the name ‘vinho do porto’, or in English, Port wine.
Though they added brandy for preservation, let us not confuse this act with the process used today. For modern Port, producers use brandy during fermentation, rather than after completion, to sweeten and strengthen the wine. Therefore, the Port we know today is somewhat different from the original wine fortified 200-odd years ago.
However, it is safe to say that one led to another. Development, production and transportation were all pioneered by the British, who led the way over the next few centuries. Hence, why many Ports have British names such as Taylor, Croft, and Graham.
Read more: 10 facts you should know about Port