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What to serve with a great Port

A friend is coming by next week with a really nice Port. I'd like to serve some nice tidbits/tappas/small plates. This won't be following a really big dinner, but it will be in the evening. What do you suggest? (I hope this doesn't get moved to the cooking board because it's all about the Port. What little snacks make the Port even better?)

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  1. With a truly outstanding Port I would stay away from sweets that can be tempting - I would instead pair it with some equally good cheese - almost any high quality creamy cheese (not a brie) or blue cheese would do it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: olasek

      I'm with the cheese and maybe some nuts. Depending on the Port (I am assuming a Vintage Port here) I'd probably go with walnuts. For me, VP is a dessert, in, and of itself. If your friend brings a Tawny, the doors open up a bit. I love pecan pie (no chocolate) with Barros 20 year, but a good bleu cheese and nuts are not out of the question. I also enjoy a bit of dark to semi-sweet chocolate (just do not like it in my pecan pie), with a good Tawny, but realize that I am in the minority.

      I usually abstain from my cigars, until the VP is done, and the Tawny comes out - again, personal tastes.

      Some years back, my wife and her chef did a Port tasting menu, to pair across the board with Rubies to VP's. Unfortunately, it's been too many years, to recall the dishes that they came up with, but it was basically heavy appetizers, in enough diversity to seem like a full meal. The big hit was a pecan-stuffed tenderloin, that I grilled. There were another 10, or so, dishes, and we did a taste-off, as the menu was being finalized. After a week of Port and dozens of dishes, I held off of fortified wines for a month... well, about two weeks!

      Hunt

    2. Roasted chestnuts, a bit of grated salt, and a fantastic Stilton. Followed by a very expensive cigar. At least that's what my father and his friends did.........

      4 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Aaaaaaaaa, cigar! - I knew I forgot something ;)

        1. re: olasek

          Cannot forget the cigars, but as I posted elsewhere, maybe save them until any VPs are done, then bring out a btl. of Tawny. I usually try and keep a bunch of Cohiba Siglo IVs around, but will never divulge the country of origin, or how they came into my possession.

          To get almost anal about VPs, most of the houses, when hosting a dinner, move to an adjoining dining room, where no food has been served. This room is just for the VPs, and ladies and gentlemen are instructed to not wear any scents to the events. After these are completed, the party moves to other quarters for the cigars, and Tawnies, with nibbelies.

          Hunt

          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Good call on the Siglo IV's; I have a partial caja left of Siglo III's. Few counterfeits of either. 85% of "Esplenditos" are counterfeit.

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              My preferred with port is a Monte Cristo #2 (torpedo). they're spicy,but not overpowering, Whch the Cohib's are to me.

        2. Also, are you serving a mini-meal (savory) or after-dinner bites (cheese) or dessert bites?
          From your post, you said tapas, so I'm thinking savory mini-meal things. Is that right?

          If so, that wouldn't be my preference. I'd stick with cheese and slightly sweet items.

          And what you serve depends on the port...what kind is it? A classic port will pair differently than a tawny...

          Classic accompaniments are: Stilton and toasted walnut halves; cocoa-dusted almonds,
          chocolate. For the tawny: dried fruit, toasted nuts, dark chocolate, peanut butter cookies
          If you go sweet rather than savory, make sure the sweetness level is muted.

          7 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine

            A necessary question. So very much depends on the Port. It could be a fine 20-40 year Tawny, or a VP, and the difference would fill a small book. If it's a grand VP, then pick up a bottle of 20 year Tawny to go with some food-items afterwards - and the cigars.

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Fruitcake (the real, homemade kind, not the overly sweet, candied storebought kind) is a beautiful pairing with just about any port. The flavours of dried fruit and nuts in the cake are a fantastic pairing with the kindred flavours of port.

              Stilton is the classic cheese pairing for a reason.

              I'd be interested in trying lightly toasted hazelnuts with port. Walnuts and almonds are more typical port-like flavours, but I happen to live in a part of the world where there are many hazelnut farms.

              1. re: anewton

                Toasted hazelnut is one of the flavors often found in 20-year-old tawny. So you could have toasted hazelnuts in stereo. Nice.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  MMMM...toasted local hazel nuts with 20 year old Taylor's tawny....sounds like a good idea for a cold, rainy pacific northwest winter day (would want the obligatory fire going...)

                  1. re: anewton

                    Works for a cold night in AZ too, even without the rain. I think I know which bin I'll hit next!

                    Hunt

                2. re: anewton

                  I have enjoyed a very few "good" fruitcakes (that is NOT an oxymoron), but I would reserve those for pairing with a Tawny. Call me "old school," or whatever, but VP is for the enjoyment of it, and it alone (in most circumstances). Start talking food, and I reach for the Taylor 20, or the Porto Barros.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: anewton

                    You caught my attention. Wife got a real fruitcake from someone in ASU extention, without the candied stuff - some purred dates and rasins, but only nuts an cake otherwise. All I had handy was a Taylor 10 year Tawny, but the combo was sublime. See, people are reading what you write, and taking it to heart. Not sure how it helps the OP, but good "fruitcake" and Tawny do work well!

                    Hunt

              2. Completely agree about the blue cheese and nuts. The only time I like stilton is with a good port.

                If you want something more savoury, you may consider some kind of beef tenderloin appetizer with a port-based sauce. If you put some port into the sauce, it would make it more port friendly. After all, one can only eat so much blue cheese....

                1 Reply
                1. re: moh

                  Wife used a Port (Ruby) reduction with her tenderloin, and it did not do badly, across the Port-board. Still, I'd have paired it with a Ruby, or, more likely, a Tawny, had we not had 24 Ports set out for the guests.

                  Hunt

                2. Toast some thinly sliced baguette in the oven until crisp. Remove from oven and place some good quality crumbled blue cheese on top followed by toasted or roasted and salted pecans. Arrange on a plate and give the whole thing a dramatic and liberal drizzle of honey. The savory sweet - creamy - crunchy - combination of everything is delightful and will buddy up nicely with port.