ISO an American wine like port
I am looking for an American wine to pair with some blue cheese after Thanksgiving dinner. Is there a good American port, or something else that would work? I'll be shopping at Whole Foods or nearby, I don't have a wine shop so it needs to be something pretty common.
I would just go for the real thing! You should be able to find selections from many of the top Portuguese producers at the local Mega-Mart. It will really depend upon your budget and the style you are looking for, which I would assume would be Ruby since I don't know of any American made Tawny ports.
If you must have American your choices will be much more limited. The only one that might be commonly available that comes to my mind is Quady.
Sauternes may be a good match as well. Good luck!
You'll find plenty of "real" ports at Whole Foods, but they're all either very expensive or not very good. Keep an eye out for Benziger port. To my knowledge they only sell port at the winery, but you can hope! It's great ruby port, though of the young variety. Great with dessert, imo.
A good Port-styled wine from the US is Beringers, Cabernet Sauvignon "Port." It is done in the "Vintage" style, and expresses some very interesting varietal characteristics. I've served this in three Port tastings and the attendees have all been pleasently surprised. You might have to search a bit, but with the distribution of Beringer/Blass in the US, it should be findable. I would venture that it would accompany a good bleu or Stilton nicely, and the varietal character is an interesting counter-point, to me, at least.
A second choice would be Quady's Starboard. It too should be findable.
I've never been impressed by Ficklin's offerings, though they do see fairly wide distribution.
Meyer's Family "Port" is quite good, but I do not believe that it is available, other than from Silver Oak winery, and maybe only their Napa tasting room - do not recall ever seeing it at the smaller Sonoma site.
Both BV and Geyser Peak have done "Ports" in the past, but I do not know if either has a current production. Both have been good in the past.
Picchetti Vineyards (Santa Cruz Mtn.) does a wonder Zinfandel Port-style wine (again, interesting varietal character), but I doubt that you'll be likely to find it, unless you are in the CA area.
For Thanksgiving dinner (after dinner, that is), I always pull out a Tawny. Either the Taylor 20, or the Barros 20, go very well with wife's New Orleans pecan pie. Both exhibit a bit of praline in the flavor, with the Barros pairing almost exactly - eat the pie - drink the pie.
After all is done and the dishes are piled up, I'll bring out a Vintage Port for the few remaining guests. These are the ones, who are most likely to really enjoy this wine, but it is usually not served with any foods, save for a bit of cheese.
The best American port-style wine I've had is Quady's Starboard.
Heitz makes a grignolino "port" that's pretty nice. I haven't tried their Ink Grade, which like Starboard uses traditional port varietals.
i'm a much bigger fan of tawny ports for after dinner, especially with cheese. rubies are just "too much" and overpower whatever you're eating. they also tend to be more reasonably priced and have longer shelf-life once opened.
why not do a nice american dessert wine? quady essensia is delicious with bleu cheese.
Heitz Cellars makes a delicious port. I've seen it here in NY, but I'm not sure how common it is.
If you must do a Port-styled wine, instead of a true Porto, I would echo most the recommendations made here so far. Remember, however, that there is a) a HUGE difference between wines produced in a Port-style in the U.S. and true Porto, and b) there is an EQUALLY HUGE difference among the various Port-styled wines made here.
Two that have been mentioned -- the Beringer and the Heitz -- are made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Grignolino, respectively. Neither variety is permitted in the Douro. (Quady's Starboard, OTOH, is produced from traditionally Portuguese varieties.) This doesn't mean they are not good choices -- I've liked both very much in the past -- but rather a cautionary note so you know what to expect.
Here are two very "American" port substitutes that you may not have considered:
1) Late Harvest Zinfandel. Properly made this is a delicious, decadent wine that matches well with roquefort. It's not strictly speaking "port-like" in that it's not fortified, but you'll find it a very interesting after-dinner/dessert wine that often stimulates alot of positive comments.
2) A "super concentrated" imperial stout. Serve your wine-snob friends a shot of Dogfish World Wide Stout after dinner sometime. Ask them if they can guess the origin of this "port". At 18%+ ABV, Guaranteed nobody will guess they're sipping a beer :) I've never tried this with cheese, wouldn't think it's a great match, but it's a fascinating drink by itself.
"The real thing"???
Schade's website -- http://www.schadevineyard.com/Wines.htm -- describes the wines as, "Tawny -- North America's upper Great Plains richly provides the ingredients that are blended to make this after-dinner wine. Grapes picked in the early Fall from prairie vineyards; elderberries gathered from river ravines; dark honey coaxed from South Dakota’s world famous bee colonies, make this a wine like none other."