Port was a popular drink in the 1800s throughout Europe, especially in England. Port is made from grapes in the Douro Valley near Porto (in Portugal). Port is 18-20% alcohol. It is fermented on grape-skins for 24-36 hours. Other spirits are then added to it. It is sweet and aged from 5-20 years. The older the port, the more expensive.
In the 1700′s, England imported wine from France, however, due to its “unfriendly” history with France, it began to import more and more port from Portugal. Regency gentlemen drank port after dinner, when the women retired to the sitting room. Women drank port punch which was watered down with water, lemon, sugar and spices. The author, Jane Austen, referred to her male characters drinking port , especially in her novel Pride and Prejudice.
Today, port is sold in liquor stores and many supermarkets. Port, like other alcoholic beverages, is a depressant in nature, however, can facilitate a feeling of relaxation, most desired by those who are stressed in our modern day society. Port contains flavonoids which protect the heart. It is often paired with nuts and dark chocolate which offer benefits to the neurological and circulatory systems. According to recent scientific research, alcohol should be consumed in limited quantities since it has been linked to breast cancer, liver and other inflammatory diseases.
The website www.cellartracker.com offers reviews of the different types and brands of port.