Is it just your imagination or has the pace of life accelerated so much in recent years that it’s sometimes difficult to know where you stand?

Have you noticed, for example, that the new phone you recently bought is already out of date, your designer clothing have been superseded by the latest style, and that an evening at the local pub now seems considerably more expensive than it did just a few months ago?

If so, then it’s reassuring to know that, in a rapidly changing world, there are some things that you can still rely on – regardless of constantly changing fashions or the prevailing economic headwinds at the time.

For many, this is where Port fits in and might go some way to explaining its enduring appeal.

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Clear evidence of this appeal are sales of Port in the UK which have certainly been resilient over the last few decades. Whilst many other drinks categories have seen their fortunes change, the amount of Port being consumed has remained relatively constant.

The other noticeable thing about Port is how much its popularity increased during the pandemic – considerably more so than most other fortified wines, and many other popular drinks.

So what can this enduring appeal be attributed to?  Is it our need to find something nostalgic that offers reassurance and comfort in times of crisis, as it has done for previous generations – or is it something about the very nature of Port itself?

In truth it is probably a bit of both.

Port, after all, has a long history that has been interwoven with that of British culture for centuries. Many of the world’s most famous and prestigious Port houses were founded by British families and the connection with the UK and its consumers has been a long and enduring one.

Port, for example, has always held centre stage at most Christmas dinner tables – arguably one of the few occasions in the year when family and friends truly come together. Indeed, some would say that Christmas simply isn’t Christmas without Port. The premium nature of Port also means that it has frequently been given as a gift, or for toasting special occasions such as a wedding or a special dinner party. It also remains a popular gift for Christenings due to its unique ageing ability, which enables the recipient to enjoy the Port at their coming of age when the wine has reached its perfect level of maturity.

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Whilst history and Port’s connection to our culture remains strong, it is also the very nature of the wine itself that continues to make it such a popular choice today.

Texturally, Port is soft, smooth and silky in nature, with deep, rich, concentrated flavours that make it a comforting drink to relax with.

It is also a big-hearted, generous wine that should be enjoyed in the same spirit – served in generous measures with friends. When poured into large glasses, Port is unique in its ability to give free expression to its full spectrum of shades – from vibrant ruby and soft tawny to the darkest purple. Only an ample glass can allow the carefree swirl to release heady aromas of raisins and almonds in one moment or intensely ripe damsons and blackcurrants the next.

Moreish and voluptuous, Port is a wine of many textures. 

Port also offers extraordinary value for money.  Even if you are only buying an everyday Reserve Port or an LBV, it’s worth remembering that all of the grapes that have gone into making it have been handpicked and that yields in the Douro Valley (the demarcated region where Port is produced) are some of the lowest in the world.  Producing is therefore a labour of love and few, if any, wines in the world offer such excellent quality at such affordable prices.

Graham's berry pickers in the vineyard
Graham’s berry pickers in the vineyard