On Thursday evening, I was asked to co-host an evening of Whisky, Cheese and Port. An event I was eager to attend, considering my love for sherry, but absolute ignorance of Port.
I was joined by Jamie Dawson, the manager of the Bon Vivant’s Companion
, one of Edinburgh’s brightest new off-licenses. Jamie is an encyclopaedia of wine, and was eager to share his thoughts and anecdotes surrounding Portugal’s national drink, as well as a few glasses of some incredible fortified wines. If you find yourself in Edinburgh, he’d love it if you went in to bug him about wine.
Probably Jamie’s best snippet of information, was the telling of the traditional way of serving port. These are traditions of the British Navy, and may explain one or two drunken sailor stories…
First of all, Port has house rules, one of which I had unwittingly incorporated at my tastings. The port must start with the host. He will pour for the guest on his right and pass the port to the left. (The left is port side when you are facing the bows, but more importantly keeps your sword hand free.) This happens until the port makes it’s way back to the host.
Secondly, if the port is decanted at the table, it must circulate until the bottle is finished and must never touch the table.
Finally, if someone holds onto the port for too long, it is considered rude to ask for it directly. Therefore, it is up to another guest to ask the Port hogger if they “Know the bishop of Norwich.” If the answer is “No.” You can then state “He’s a terribly good chap, but he always forgets to pass the Port.”
So there you go, next time someone offers you a 1961 Vintage port, you can drink it however you like, but make sure you serve it properly!
In my glass: Krohn 1961 Colheita Port (Call the Bon Vivant’s Companion to order)