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Best port 2021: We round up the best Ruby, Reserve, Single Quinta and Crusted ports from £19

Kate Hilpern
29 Oct 2021
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We help you sort your Ruby from your Reserve and your Single Quinta from your Crusted in our guide to the best port

Port isn’t just for Christmas and it isn’t just for cheese, either. In fact, the best port – which is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley of Portugal – is the drink of the moment and it’s increasingly being enjoyed as a long drink, as well as the more traditional digestif.

With often only half the alcohol content of vodka or gin, you’ll find a growing number of bar lists featuring port in all sorts of ways you had probably never imagined. Not all port only consists of the heavy, ruby-coloured stuff either. You can get all kinds, including white port (made from white grapes), each with different characteristics.

Don’t miss our buyer’s guide, which tells you everything you need to know when choosing the best port for your references and budget, and you can also scroll down to see our top recommendations for ports of all types.

How to choose the best port for you

What are the different kinds of port?

Port is a fortified wine produced in the Duoro Valley, in the northern provinces of Portugal – one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. There are several different types, each with their own unique characteristics. These include:

Ruby Port – Aged for 2-3 years in barrels or vats, these are full-bodied ports that are meant to be drunk young. They are fruity, vibrant and a great accompaniment to the cheeseboard or with berry-based desserts.

Reserve Port – These are usually slightly better quality than ruby ports. Aged for a bit longer, they offer more sophistication and complexity but have the same deep red colouring and fruity flavours.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port – Aged for 4-6 years, these ports have lots of character but are lighter than traditional vintages. Best with soft cheeses.

Vintage Port – Made from the best grapes of a single year, the “vintage” refers to an outstanding harvest. After being aged for around two years, vintage ports are further aged in bottles. The best ones can be aged for decades and are both powerful and elegant. They go well with dark chocolate, blue cheeses or on their own.

Single Quinta Vintage Port – These ports are produced from a port house’s best vineyards in a great year, but may not be quite good enough for a declared Vintage Port. Great with cheese.

Crusted Port – A blend of outstanding young ports from two or three harvests, these are left to mature in the bottle, forming a “crust” (natural sediment) as they age.

Tawny Port – After being aged in oak barrels, tawny ports are further aged in bottles for periods such as ten, 20, 40 years, etc. The name comes from the tawny colour they develop over time and they tend to be very smooth and mellow, with flavours of fruit and nuts. They go well with cheeses and some puddings.

White Port – Briefly aged before bottling, these are meant to be drunk young, and range from crisp dry wines, best served with tonic, ice and lemon, to sweeter versions, which go well with puddings. There are some aged white ports, too.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best rum


At a glance: Best port


The best port you can buy from £19

1. Fonseca Crusted Port: Best crusted port

Price: £21 | Buy now from Amazon

Let’s be honest, a “crusted” drink doesn’t sound very inviting. But don’t be fooled. This rare style of port hasn’t been filtrated, hence the wine forming a “crust” in the bottle, and is only made by a limited number of producers. Made from a blend of two or three vintages, the idea is you get the best of all the harvests, and this one is both creamy and smooth and pairs well with puddings, especially berries and chocolate, or with strong cheeses. Be sure to decant it first – you won’t want to drink that crust.

Key specs – ABV: 20%; Type of port: Crusted

Image of Fonseca Crusted Port 75cl

Fonseca Crusted Port 75cl

£21.95 (£29.27 / l) Buy now

2. Graham’s Fine White Port Wine: Best white port

Price: £19 | Buy now from Amazon

You’ll know the name of Graham’s – they’ve been making port since 1820 – but you might not know much about white port, which is made exclusively from white grapes and is actually nearer a golden colour. Well, P&Ts are the new G&Ts – and we think this is the best white port to pair with tonic, ice and lemon (and a sprig of mint). It’s fresh and delicate, yet salty and slightly fruity. The grapes it’s made with include Códega, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho.

Key specs – ABV: 19%; Type of port: White

3. Graham’s 20-year-old Tawny Port: Best tawny port under £50

Price: £35 | Buy now from Amazon

This 20-year-old tawny port from Graham’s is warming and stylish. It has nuts, dried fruits and orange peel coming through in the aroma, then follows through in the rich, slightly sweet and very smooth taste. It has a silky texture and a hint of spiciness in the long finish. If you open it up among a group of friends, we’d be impressed if the bottle lasts until the end of the night – this stuff is seriously moreish.

Key specs – ABV: 20%; Type of port: Tawny

Image of Grahams 20 yo Tawny Port 75cl

Grahams 20 yo Tawny Port 75cl

£33.95 (£45.27 / l) Buy now

4. Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Reserve: The best organic port

Price: £21 | Buy now from Amazon

Organic ports are rarer than you might think. This full-bodied yet smooth one – which has been wood-matured for an average of five years – has ripe peppery tannins and all manner of rich fruits including cassis, blueberry, plum and dark cherry, and the flavours last well beyond the finish. Not too sweet, not too oaky, this is a fine example of a characterful port that’s a great crowd pleaser – and all the more so if you have eco-warriors at your dinner table. Reserve port at its finest.

Key specs – ABV: 20%; Type of port: Reserve

5. Quinta do Noval Vintage Port, 2018: Best vintage port under £100

Price: £72 | Buy now from Vivino

Traditionally made with foot-trodden grapes in Noval’s old granite lagares in the summer of 2018, this port is dense, rich and velvety, with leather, liquorish and damsons. It can be drunk now or laid down – but you’ll absolutely need to decant it when you do decide to go for it. Bring out the stilton and your best glasses and prepare yourself for a real treat. But at over 70 quid a bottle, you’ll need to be pretty serious about port.

Key specs – ABV: 19.5%; Type of port: Vintage

Buy now from Vivino


6. Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port, 1998: The best vintage port under £40

Price: £18 (per ½ bottle) | Buy now from Vivino

An outstanding port from a well-established vineyard, Taylor’s 1998 Quinta de Vargellas is one of the most affordable vintage ports available to buy right now. Delivering cherry and blackcurrant jam on the nose, with undercurrents of molasses and woodsmoke, this is a rich and aromatic wine with a soft, lingering finish. The 1998 vintage is only sold in half-bottles (375ml), so be sure to order accordingly to avoid running out prematurely.

Key specs – ABV: 20%; Type of port: Vintage

Buy now from Vivino