Wine & Brandy industry information

About Port Wine

According to South African legislation wines can be classified as natural or fortified wines regarding its alcohol concentration. When grapes are fermented alcohol is formed and if all the alcohol in a wine is resulting from the fermentation the wine is classified as a natural wine. If however additional alcohol, also called wine spirits which derives from grapes, is added to the wine it is classified as a fortified wine. Port and jerepigos are well known fortified wines.

1. Harvest

Selected, disease free, overripe white or red grapes, depending whether white or red port is made, are picked manually.

2. destemming

The grapes are delivered at the cellar where it is destalked …

3. crushing

… and the berries are crushed.

4. fermentation

Additives like sulphur dioxide are added to the pomace to ensure a sound fermentation and wine. The pomace is inoculated with pure culture yeast to initiate alcoholic fermentation or left for spontaneous alcoholic fermentation. Skin contact is allowed during fermentation to extract sufficient colour and tannins from the skins. During the alcoholic fermentation the sugars in the juice are converted to alcohol, carbon dioxide and heat.

5. Maceration & Pressing

After sufficient colour and tannins have been removed the juice is separated from the skins and the skins are pressed to recover all the wine.

6. fortification

After sufficient sugar has been converted the fermentation is stopped by fortifying the wine with brandy. The stage of fortification will determine the sugar concentration of the wine. The young port is separated from the fermentation lees by racking. Sulphur dioxide is added again to ensure a sound wine.

7. maturing

The clarified young wine is matured in barrels. If small barrels, referred to as pipes are used a tawny port will be obtained after several years of maturation. If vats are used a ruby port will be obtained after a few years.

8. blending & stabilisation

Different wines are blended to ensure consistency regarding the type, style and sweetness degree of the wine to be bottled. The blended wine is stabilised to prevent any colour, flavour and taste changes or precipitations before it is bottled.

9. bottling

Blended and stabilised wines are bottled.
Ports pair well with nuts and cheese as a dessert wine.