Tawny Port — to decant or not? And when is it best enjoyed?

TAGS:

Drinking and Serving Tawny Port

The scenario: You’ve got a bottle of Sandeman 30 Year Old tawny Port that you’re planning to open in the run-up to Christmas. But, what’s the best way to serve it, and how long will it last after it’s been un-corked?

Richard Mayson, Decanter expert and author of Port and the Douro, says:

Tawny and Colheita Ports are mostly bottled with stopper corks and intended to be drunk soon after bottling. Consequently there is no need for recommended drinking dates.

There should be no sediment so no need to decant, though the wines do look wonderful in a clear glass decanter.

Serve tawny and Colheita ‘cellar cool’, about 10°C-12°C, to appreciate them at their finest.

Unlike a venerable vintage Port, which will oxidise quite rapidly in a decanter, tawny Ports may be drunk over the course of a week or so.

Port consultant Jim Reader assures me: ‘An old tawny or Colheita will keep perfectly well for a week or so, whereas after a few weeks one would start to notice a loss of freshness and of some of the more delicate flavours.’

I nearly always have a bottle of tawny on the go in the fridge.

This article was taken from Richard Mayson’s feature on tawny Port in the December issue of Decanter magazine. Edited for Decanter.com by Laura Seal. 

More questions answered: