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PORT IS NOT A COOKED WINE
Like Natural Sweet Wines Port is a mutated wine
The interest of mutage is to bring the wine roundness and fruit, richness in the nose and mouth but also the power and a real ability to aging. The vinification of Port starts in the same way as for traditional wines but the alcoholic fermentation stops during the addition of brandy. By stopping fermentation, the added alcohol will retain some of the sugars. This is why Port wines are both sweet and rich in alcohol. It is during the alcoholic fermentation that we add to the must from the vintage a volume of wine spirit at 76% alcohol (brandy) in a proportion of 15 to 20%. The timing of the mutage is essential. If alcohol is added too soon the wine will be heavy. If added too late, it will lack roundness and fruit. All Port wines are produced in the same way. What differentiates them next is the mode and the duration of their breeding, as well as of course the style of the producer. The oxidative type Port of the Tawny Family (Tawny, Tawny Reserve, Tawny with indication of age, Colheita) are matured in contact with air and wood. They are assembled according to a traditional know-how and a style specific to each producer. The reductive type Port of the Ruby Family (Ruby, Ruby Reserve, Vintage Late Bottled, Vintage) are high wines with little or no contact with the air. They highlight the fruit and the terroir on which they are produced.
The main methods to obtain a sweet wine
In a dry wine all the sugar of the grapes is transformed into alcohol following the alcoholic fermentation. In a sweet wine only a portion of the sugar is processed and the residual sugar gives the wine its sweet flavor. One of the ways to proceed is to stop the alcoholic fermentation en route, including adding alcohol. This is the technique of mutage. We are talking about mutated or fortified wines. The SNW (Sweet Natural Wines) such as Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Maury, Muscat de Frontignan or Beaume de Venise are mutated wines.The most famous of all the wines transferred is Port. Another way to proceed is to use grapes with such a high sugar content that there is still a residual sugar at the end of the alcoholic fermentation. It's like that late harvests of Bordeaux or Alsace, Jura straw wines or German ice wines. Note that in Germany and Spain (but to our knowledge neither in France nor in Portugal) it also happens that we add grape juice in some wines to give them a sweet taste.
What is cooked wine?
The wine cooks us comes from Antiquity (Egyptians, Greeks, Romans) but it's essentially in the provencal traditionwe find it. It is a rare wine. It is sweet because obtained by concentration of sugars in the must that is heated before the beginning of the alcoholic fermentation . And always from the traditional Provençal grape varieties. In general the original must is halved by heating for several hours over a low, steady fire in a copper cauldron. Heating has the effect of stopping the alcoholic fermentation. To revive the alcoholic fermentation when the desired sugar content is reached, fresh must is added to the concentrated must.Vinification is then done in partially filled barrels to leave the must in contact with the air.Alcoholic fermentation lasts as long as yeast activity is not blocked by alcohol.This fermentation can be very long and sometimes extend over a year. When it is finished, considering the high sugar content of the initial must, there is still a residual sugar in the wine.