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Edward Peters

Personal Dessert Wines

Porto V: Tawnies

            There is a danger in developing a taste for aged tawnies and vintage ports, namely, that it might leave one less appreciative of younger tawnies and ruby ports. This nearly happened when Angela and I opened a square-bottled California ruby from Taylor Reserve (500 ml, $ 7). On first impression, the color shown a rich red in the glass while the nose was so youthfully fruity that I was for a moment taken back some decades to the Soulard Farmer’s Market in St. Louis where the hanger style great roof concentrated wonderfully the aromas of fresh fruits and vegetables despite the absence of walls. But the taste of this ruby port was, I felt, disjointed, and my comment to Angela, a bit unfair, was that someone had simply spiked the grape juice. Of course, one should not blame a ruby for being a ruby, and the wine held up well over the next week. In the end we were grateful for the reminder that port represents a marriage of two flavors, grape and brandy, a union that offers distinct attractions throughout the length of the relationship.

            For a tawny, we crossed the equator. South African wines enjoyed a vogue for a few years back following the fall of apartheid, but that phase having passed, they are once again being assessed on the basis of taste instead of politics. A full tawny from the South African firm of KWV is available under $ 10, the adjective “full” being here a designation pride, but otherwise without settled definition. The first night we opened the wine, its edges seemed a bit rough to us, but by the second night, it had opened up delightfully in the bottle, and James Akin made the happy suggestion of trying it over some pipes of North Sea blend. Regrettably, the wine turned a bit strict over the next week, and we should have finished it during the octave. Sipping suggestion: let a glass of KWV serve as the occasion to revisit some of Chesterton’s essays in opposition to the Boer War at dawn of the 20th century. +++

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