8 Best Port Wines to Drink in 2022, According to Experts

food, 8 best port wines to drink in 2022, according to experts

Made using indigenous Portuguese grapes hailing from the Douro Valley, port is shedding its old-school skin and convincing a new generation of drinkers to give fortified wine a chance.

A post-dinner drink par excellence, there’s a reason we turn to port’s warm embrace as the darker nights draw in. With that said, many port styles (particularly white and rosé) can be muddled with fresh mint, citrus and tonic for a longer spritz suitable for all seasons.

Best port for 2022

Different types of port

Ruby Port – Aged in steel or concrete tanks and then bottled, ruby port is renowned for its berry-forward flavour, pronounced spicing and mellow cocoa notes. It’s also the most highly produced and doesn’t tend to improve with age.

Tawny Port – Aged in wooden casks, tawny ports tend to be sweeter and dominated by dried fruit and caramel aromas. Exposure to oxygen in the barrel imparts a moreish toasted nut quality, as well as the characteristic golden-brown hue.

Vintage Port – Made using grapes from a single, exceptional harvest, vintage port spends no longer than two years in the barrel before being bottled and tends to be fuller-bodied and deeper red than both ruby and tawny varieties. A rare breed, vintage ports tend to account for 3% of port production but are a class above (often, with the price tag to match).

White Port – Lauded for its bright, crisp character, white port offers refreshing notes of crisp apple, citrus and toasted nuts. Varying from bone dry to honey sweet, it can take a little trial and error to find your favourite – but trust us, it’s worth it.

Rosé Port – A new style of port pioneered by the Croft Port House in 2008, rosé port is made much like a rosé wine, with brief exposure to the grape skins giving a delicate pink hue. Serve chilled over ice to get the best out of your bottle.

What food to pair with port

Due to its semi-sweet, nutty character, port pairs perfectly with Christmas cheese – including mature Manchego and stilton – as well as richer flavours like foie gras, duck parfait and smokier charcuterie. It’s not all savoury, though; try serving a chilled glass alongside decadent dark chocolate cake and you’ll never settle for a sub-standard dessert wine again.

How we test port

We asked the Esquire Approves panel — made up of 10 WSET-trained wine experts and consumers — to work their way through 19 port varieties from the leading vineyards and producers. Each was tasted blind and assessed on its balance of flavours, mouthfeel and length of finish.

These are the bottles of the very best port you’ll find on their bar cart this Christmas and beyond.

food, 8 best port wines to drink in 2022, according to experts

1) Laithwaite’s by Quinta do Noval Vintage Port


Blended for leading wine merchants, Laithwaite’s, this 2005 vintage impressed across the board with its heady nose of crushed red berries and toasted spices (not dissimilar to aniseed balls, if you’re “retro” enough to remember them). Warming and velvety smooth, it’s an absolute treat to enjoy as a Christmas Day digestif. Or any day, for that matter.

food, 8 best port wines to drink in 2022, according to experts

2) Kopke 10 Year Old Tawny Port


Despite its lighter aroma, this 10-year-old packs a real punch on the palate, opening with sweet marzipan and leading to classic red plum, raspberry and prune flavours.

Incredibly complex, this deserves to be sipped straight-up or served alongside an equally decadent chocolate dessert. And suddenly, we’re reminded why we love Christmas so much.

food, 8 best port wines to drink in 2022, according to experts

3) Andresen En Royal Choice 20 Year Old Tawny Port NV


Striking the perfect flavour balance, our top 20-year-old tawny offers trademark almond notes and moreish stone fruit sweetness. So moreish, in fact, that many of our testers couldn’t resist returning for a second glass. ‘Tis the season, after all.

food, 8 best port wines to drink in 2022, according to experts

4) Dow’s Bomfin Vintage Port 2010


Having produced port for over five generations, our panel had high expectations for Dow’s — and it delivered. Smooth as silk on the palate, rich blackcurrant, cherry and cacao vie for attention, while a touch of dried fruit sweetness and leather smoke round out the blend.

food, 8 best port wines to drink in 2022, according to experts

5) Vista Alegre Port Decanter


There’s no denying that port makes a fine Christmas gift, but this glass decanter makes it all the more special. Our panel had high praise for its gripping acidity, while the flavour veers more vegetal, with a complex medley of festive spices at play.

food, 8 best port wines to drink in 2022, according to experts

6) Paxton & Whitfield Tawny Port


It comes as no surprise that leading cheesemongers, Paxton & Whitfield, have bottled the perfect sparring partner for the Christmas cheeseboard. Rich red fruit dominate (think: plum, blackcurrant and ripe red cherry), but there’s a lingering nuttiness, too.

food, 8 best port wines to drink in 2022, according to experts

7) Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha Port


This single Quinta port brings a lot to the table, with raisin, prune and ripe mulberry aromas at the fore. On the palate, it’s pleasingly complex with a tell-tale alcohol warmth. If there’s a better tipple to turn to after a Boxing Day walk, we’re yet to find it.

food, 8 best port wines to drink in 2022, according to experts

8) Feuerheerds Tawny Port


Imagine your Mum’s blackberry crumble in liquid form and you’re right on the money. In fact, it might even be better… just don’t tell her we said that.

Robust and full-bodied, the initial berry flavour is backed up with rich caramel, baked almonds and warm spices, making it one to savour slowly. But it’ll take willpower, that’s for sure.

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