Looking for something different to drink? Well, if you've never tried a 'Port and tonic', perhaps you should! Made with white port, it's a great alternative to the good old G&T or Aperol Spritz. It also fits in with modern lifestyle trends of lower alcohol, good quality, stylish drinks … and they've been drinking 'porto tónico' in Portugal for ages!
White Port is a fortified wine from Portugal's Douro valley, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. It's made from indigenous white grapes, such as Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, Códega and Viosinho. Like red port, white port is made by adding grape spirit. This stops fermentation and fortifies the wine to 17–20% ABV, thereby retaining some sweetness from unfermented sugar. Most are bottled young, although some do see wood age. Despite the alcoholic strength, the dry style (there are sweet versions too) has a light and refreshing profile, perfect for summer drinking, especially with ice and tonic in a highball. You can typically expect flavours including citrus fruit and peel, stone fruit, nuts, honey and caramel.
Porto Cálem is an historic port house, founded by adventurer and entrepreneur António Alves Cálem in 1859. Four generations later, they are reaching out to a new generation of port drinkers with White & Dry, the perfect base for a port and tonic.
Wines of different harvests and levels of maturation are blended in large oak barrels and stainless steel vats for a minimum of three years. The grape varieties are Códega, Malvasia Fina, Donzelinho and Esgana Cão. These come from vineyards planted at up to 600 metres altitude on schistous sandstone soils, interspersed with granite. The ABV is 19.5%.
Colour: pale gold.
Nose: aromatic and floral with notes of honeysuckle, dried flowers, almonds and hints of tropical fruit.
Palate: smooth and well-balanced with an underlying core of ripe fruit that leads to a sweet finish. Notes of pear, peach, tropical fruit, honey and a little hint of rose petals are lifted by a satisfying citrus zing that adds freshness.
Over time, sediment can form at the bottom of the bottle. so store upright in a cool, dry place, sheltered from light and temperature ﬂuctuations. Once opened, drink it within two to four months.
You can drink White & Dry, chilled to 8°-10°C and served neat or on the rocks in a white wine glass. However, for a great and slightly sweeter alternative to a G&T, pour one part White & Dry to two parts good quality tonic in a highball and garnish with lime or orange peel.
I tried it first with Fentimans Connoisseurs Tonic Water and a twist of mandarin peel. The subtle flavours of juniper berries, Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass lifted the citrus and tropical fruit profile of the port for a taste of pure summer refreshment!
For a drier version, Merchant's Heart Pink Peppercorn Tonic with orange rind and Moroccan mint offers a crisp and vibrant expression with a refreshingly bitter twist!
Tomáš Čistý, Bar Manager at Mayfair's 12 Hay Hill, says: "A spritz or a highball with London Essence White Peach & Jasmine Crafted Soda would work. I would also try to infuse port with saffron, add soda and some Portuguese sparkling wine."
White & Dry is ideal with salted almonds, olives, hard cheese or sushi and also with light dishes like salmon soufflé.
You can buy Cálem White & Dry at Amathus stores or online. The RRP is £14.75.