White is the new port, at least that’s the claim of a recent article in the Seattle Weekly lauding the overlooked beverage. Usually skipped in favor of its ruby or tawny brethren, perhaps white port will finally get its day in the sun.
The Weekly seems to think so. “Aficionados dismiss white port as banal, and Englishmen refuse to take it seriously. This should be the first big clue that it’s worth trying.”
White port is simply port wine made from white grapes. About half of the varieties of approved port grapes are white, but most of the favored ports are red. Many people have never tried a white port or even know they exist. So why bother?
On the wine-flavor continuum, white port is richer and fruitier than a fino sherry or white vermouth. Like a nectarine to a peach, it’s not as thick and nowhere near as sweet as a blond dessert wine. Most white port comes off like a butch version of Lillet, the French aperitif. It has a slightly higher alcohol percentage than table wine, around 17 percent. The easiest and tastiest application of white port is to mix it with tonic over ice. Half as potent as a gin and tonic, this is something you can drink all night long.
The Weekly has a few suggestions for what to do with your white port. “Mix white port with an orange-based liqueur like Cointreau to make a unique aperitif or ultralight version of a martini. A kir—normally white wine with cassis liqueur or syrup—is sassed up with the use of white port. More decadent and aromatic, with a little added sweetness, it’ll make you forget you ever drank cosmos.”
’Cause, you know, the best thing about white is that it coordinates with almost anything.