If you love making your own wine at home, port wine kits can help you create a batch of port with the perfect balance of flavors.
About Port Wine
Port is one of the many dessert wines or fortified wines on the market. Frequently sipped as an after-dinner drink, this type of wine is usually sweet. However, you can make port varieties that are semi-dry or even dry. Many port wines are red in color, but they can also be golden brown or white. Port is usually more alcoholic that other wines, often around 20% alcohol by volume.
There are two main types of port wines:
- Barrel-aged port wine is aged in wooden barrels. These barrels allow some air to circulate during the fermentation process, leading to a slightly thicker product. The wood from the barrel also affects the flavor of the port, giving it an oaky or spicy taste.
- Bottle-aged port wine is aged in traditional glass bottles, which restrict the flow of air. These ports are smoother and darker than barrel-aged varieties.
Making Port Wine at Home
Whichever type of port wine you prefer, you can make your own batch at home with the right ingredient kit. Wine kits typically include concentrated grape juice and specially chosen varieties of yeast. To make the wine, you combine the ingredients according to the instructions in the kit. You then allow the wine to ferment for the specified period of time, often about six weeks. Finally, you transfer the wine to bottles or casks and allow it to age to your own taste preferences.
Most at-home wine makers need a few basic pieces of equipment in order to produce port wine:
- A primary fermenter for the initial fermentation stage
- A secondary fermenter for further aging the wine
- Cleaning equipment and supplies
- Siphoning equipment
- Bottles and corks
- Bottling equipment
Often, you can purchase a basic wine making kit that includes everything you need to get started. These kits are usually available wherever you choose to buy your port wine ingredient kit.
Buying Port Wine Kits
Once you have the necessary supplies, you can choose a port wine ingredient kit and get started. You can expect to spend between $50 and $150 on the kit, which will make about 14 or 15 bottles of port wine. You'll find kits at your local home brewing and winemaking store, or you can buy a kit online at one of these Internet winemaking shops:
- Homebrewer's Outpost offers several port kits and the basic equipment you'll need to make them.
- Adventures in Homebrewing has port wine making kits, winemaking equipment, and helpful tips for success.
- Quality Wine and Ale Supply is a great resource for port kits, equipment, and supplies.
- Midwest Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies has a good selection of port kits, including one that uses blackberry juice.
- RJ Spagnols offers a variety of kits for flavored port including orange chocolate, caramel, and coffee.
There's more to home-based port making than simply buying a great ingredient kit. Keep the following tips in mind as you make port at home:
- If you're interested in making a port wine that has a barrel-aged flavor, look for a port kit that includes oak chips.
- Always keep your winemaking equipment clean. Even a little of the wrong kind of bacteria can affect your yeast and spoil the flavor of your port.
- Carefully follow the instructions in the port kit in order to produce a wine with a great taste and color.
- As your port ages, pay attention to the storage conditions. Your ingredient kit will specify a certain temperature range for the fermentation and aging stages.
With the right port wine kit, some basic supplies, and a few months of aging time, you'll have a great batch of port that you can share with friends and serve at dinner parties.