Port sippers – a unique type of engraved port glassesClive
With a wide variety of unusual and quirky port wine glasses now available on the market, each proclaiming to deliver the ultimate drinking experience through their individual design and shape, we can at last say goodbye to the Paris goblet and thimble-sized port glass. Port wine lovers are now able to appreciate a decent measure of their favourite drink in well proportioned, quality glasses that make the most of the rich aromas and full bodied flavour of a vintage port.
When choosing to buy a set of engraved port glasses, try to remember that they don’t have to be the most expensive, but should always flatter the wine and not stifle it. A good claret or fine Burgundy would not be served in tiny glasses, therefore neither should a fine port wine.
The port sipper
First introduced into Europe in the 17th Century, the port sipper, also known as a sipping pipe, was originally made from ceramic. With the bowl of the glass usually a classic tulip shape, wide at the bottom with a narrower lip, the most striking difference is the lack of stem. In its place is a hollow pipe that gently curves upwards towards the mouth of the glass, rather like a tea-pot handle. Added to the bottom of the glass are two feet that help with stability, allowing the glass to sit safely on a table. Today’s port sippers are manufactured from good quality thin glass, and are usually hand-blown.
Enhancing the experience
The unique shape of the sipper encourages the port wine to be sipped from the bottom of the glass, through the curved pipe, ensuring that most of the port does not have contact with too much oxygen. This helps prevent oxidation of the port, and the drinker is able to experience and enjoy the taste and flavour as the maker intended.
The shape also allows the glass to sit neatly in the palm of the hand where the liquid can be slightly warmed. Connoisseurs recommend that many fortified wines, such as port, be consumed at around 18 degrees to enhance the aromas, taste and flavour of the drink for perfect enjoyment.
Accompaniments and accessories
Food and wine often go together and port wine is no exception. There are several combinations that complement each other perfectly and can make the experience so much more enjoyable. With a white port, try white chocolate. A tawny port goes well with milk chocolate, and a vintage port would find the perfect pairing with dark chocolate. Not forgetting the classic combination of port and cheese; consider any type of port with a mature cheddar, and a fine vintage port with a good quality Stilton.
Some aficionados also suggest using certain accessories. A good corkscrew is one, used expertly to cleanly remove the cork without breakage, and a funnel for decanting to remove any debris from an unintended cork breakage, and also filter any sediment. Drinking from a lovely set of engraved port glasses and with a Hoggit-style, round bottomed decanter, which cannot be put down except on a special wooden base, an evening can be spent ensuring guests keep passing the port round the table – always to the left of course, and always in moderation!