Thanksgiving Pairings: Port and Pecan Pie

Why port is perfectly versatile for all your Thanksgiving desserts

Most of us know that fruity ruby port goes with chocolate, but have you explored the pairing possibilities of other styles of this ancient fortified wine?

As you might have guessed, true port only comes from Portugal, where it’s been made in the Duoro Valley region for more than 2,000 years. Local grapes like touriga nacional and tinta roriz are vinified into wine, and then they get an additional alcoholic boost from brandy.

For even more background on port, visit the site And we couldn’t resist sharing this simply delicious recipe for poached pears with ginger and port. Below are some port styles and pairings to explore:

White Port — Made from white port grapes, this style with refreshing acidity can be subtly sweet or completely dry. It’s classically paired with salted almonds, but white port also shines with seafood such as crabcakes or smoked salmon.

Look for: FONSECA Siroco White Port (Portugal) non-vintage $15. Find it here.

Ruby Port — Fresh, bold and fruity, ruby port is easy to love. These young ports offer flavors of cherries, berries, spice, and vanilla. Ruby port loves chocolate, but it also makes a tasty companion for creamy blue cheese, brownies, or blackberry pie.

Look for: SANDEMAN Ruby Porto (Portugal) non-vintage $15. Find it here.

Tawny Port — The rusty colored stuff called tawny port gets its color because it’s been aged for a while. The color becomes more pale while the flavors mellow into nutty, caramel notes. Try it with aged gouda, mimolette, roasted nuts, or pecan pie.

Look for: ROZES 10-Year Tawny Port (Portugal) non-vintage $30. Find it here.

Vintage Port — This category refers to ports with a vintage year attached. A vintage must be declared by the shipper; a vintage is considered great (ie 1966, 1985, 1997) when more than 50 percent of the port shippers do so. Port might be aged anywhere from 10 years to 50 years or more — of course, those rare beauties have a price tag that can reach into the thousands of dollars. The flavors are special, so pair them with the finest cheese, freshly roasted nuts, or chocolate according to the style, or perhaps nothing at all. 

Look for: TAYLOR Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port (Portugal) 2005, $58. Find it here.

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