White Port Wines

Although we will think of port wine as a dark wine made from blue varieties, we cannot forget about White Port wine.

English „White Port Wine“, Portuguese „Porto Branco“ produced in small quantities by about 30 producers (about 10 % of the total annual production of Port wine) is a unique type of wine typical of the area in the Douro River Valley, a World Heritage Site UNESCO and where port wine has been produced since the 16th century.

The phenomenon of this culture is widespread, especially in Portugal itself, but it is also appreciated in French gastronomy. In the UK and America, on the other hand, White Port is not as recognized as red.

White Port wines, „White Port Wine“ in English or „Porto Branco“ in Portuguese may have a lower price than red Port wines, but still provide a quality experience.

The impressive drink itself is served chilled as an aperitif or in combination with tonic and lemon in a refreshing drink called Port Tonic and can also be paired very well with a good meal.

The versatile white port wine offers a range of flavors, from fresh and young aperitifs to rich and complex wines aged in wood for up to 40 years.

Varieties for the production of White Port wine

White Port wine is made from white varieties, which are usually grown in the Douro in higher elevations, where the air temperature is usually lower. It is usually warmer to the river, so there, on the other hand, there are blue varieties intended for the production of red Port wines.

Malvasia Fina
A delicate, full variety that brings tones of molasses and nutmeg

It excels in apple aroma, fresh acidity and smoothness

Variety with a relatively low yield, which adds structure and intense aroma

Códega do Larinho
An old Portuguese variety with a strong acidity and a tendency to high alcohol

Moscatel Galego Branco
It offers aromatic undertones of apricots and oranges and is responsible for the sparkling color of Port

Adds a refreshing acid to the wine

Production of White Port wines

The difference between the basic Tawny and White is obvious at first glance

This category of port is also fortified, which means that during the fermentation of the mash, it is terminated at the exact moment by the addition of 77% wine brandy. The final product contains as standard 19 – 22 % alcohol, Light Dry (Leve Seco) alcohol 16.5 – 17 %.

Basic white port wines then mature predominantly in stainless steel tanks for 3 years, some producers prefer a combination of main maturation in stainless steel and several months in wood.

Reservy, Colheity and dated white port wines lie on the barrel for not less than 4 years according to the principles of their production. Due to intentional oxidation, the taste and color change through the pores of the wood.

Over time, it darkens, so it is difficult for experts to determine whether it is aged Tawny (ie port of blue grapes) or its equally old white variant. In terms of price, such a bottle can climb to thousands of USD.

When you pour white port into a glass, focus on its color, sparkle, aroma and, of course, taste.

Its aromatic range is really wide, most of the White Port Wine is full of flavors of caramel, orange, lemon, apple and honey. The white port ripening before bottling in wood will offer tones of almonds, vanilla and oregano to the nose and mouth.

How to serve White Port

You can store an unopened bottle of White Port in the cold for several years. Once opened and not used immediately, store it closed in the refrigerator and consume the contents within 3 months.

White Port is usually served as an aperitif. Like other white wines, it is served chilled, preferably at a temperature of 6 – 8 °C.

White Port wine deserves to be served in tulip-shaped glasses or in traditional rounds on a higher stem, and if it is part of a cocktail, it also looks good in a long drink glass.

Types of White Port wine according to residual sugar

There are several different types of White Port, which are divided mainly by the level of sweetness – they can be extra dry, sweet or something in between. Another division may be the ripening time.

The moment of stopping the fermentation affects the amount of residual sugar that remains in the wine. The longer the mash ferments, the less glucose we eventually find in Port. Thanks to this, we can enjoy white port in the range from Extra Dry to Extra (Port with a high content of residual sugar).

SweetnessResidual sugar (g/l)
Extra-seco (Extra Dry)< 40
Seco (Dry)40 – 65
Meio-seco (White)65 – 85
Doce85 – 130
Muito doce (Lágrima)> 130
Credits: IVDP.pt

Light Dry White Port

Known as „Leve Seco“, it has a lower alcohol content – about 16.5 % alcohol. It matures in barrels between 5 and 10 years, thus losing even the last residual sugar.

Extra Dry White Port

It contains about 40 g/l of residual sugar. It is characterized by a sparkling, straw color, floral scent and usually tastes of lemons or pine nuts. It is the basic ingredient for the summer drink Port Tonic. Soft, peppery finish. The iconic port wine of this kind is Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port.

Dry White Port

Contains up to 65 g/l of residual sugar. The color of white gold with an intense aroma of honey, nuts, almonds or figs. Usually velvety and fresh in the mouth.

White Port

The residual sugar content is up to 85 g/l. The most common type of white port wine. In color with golden highlights, the taste is fruity after citrus fruits, apples or pears. Sweet, fine port wine suitable as an aperitif.


The sweetest white port with a residual sugar content of more than 130 g/l is very popular in Portugal. Unlike other white Port wines, winemakers let it mature in a barrel for more than 1 year out of a total aging period of three years.

It is characterized by a deep gold color with subtle reflections. The aroma can be smelled. The caramel taste with strong fruity undertones stays on the palate for a long time.

This type is served mainly as a dessert wine and is also well understood by cheeses or nuts. Popular brands include Churchill, Niepoort, Ferreira Lagrima and Dow.

Why „lágrima“? This word in Portuguese means „tear“. The name derives from the visual effect, when due to the high viscosity (amount of residual sugar) it forms slowly flowing streams on the glass, resembling tears.

Types of Port wine by age

White Reserve Port

It is a mixture of several white Port wines, usually older than 4 years. It is up to each winemaker to create a balanced combination of properties. White Port Reserves can have varying degrees of sweetness, from Extra Dry to Lágrima.

The color is straw to golden, the aroma is slightly spicy. In the taste you will recognize citrus or tea tones surrounded by a hint of peach jam. It is elegant, with a clear acidity and, thanks to longer maturation, overall more complex than basic white Port wines.

It is suitable for pairing with various sandwiches, olives, soft cheeses, roasted almonds or walnuts.

White Colheita Port

White Colheita are very interesting port wines, in many cases they are quite rare bottles. „Colheita“ in Portuguese means „harvest“, which indicates that they are vintage wines. The year of harvest is indicated on the label, the amount of residual sugar is around 120 g/l.

It matures in oak barrels for not less than 7 years, but Colheitas aged in wood for 40 years and more are known. Bottling then takes place gradually according to market requirements.

Only some wineries are dedicated to the White Colheitas, with a sufficient area of ​​vineyards with white varieties and also the capacity for ripening, ie premises and barrels.

The color is attractive in the tempting orange-straw color. Rich and intense in aroma, with tones of fresh tropical fruit, orange blossoms and honeycombs. It was as if she was covered in smoke, thanks to her years of aging in wood. This also causes the color to darken to shades of cognac to amber almost identical to what we would expect from Colheita from blue grapes. Distinguishing these 2 types of Colheitas from each other is a visual challenge even for experienced professionals.

The flavors of mandarins, apricots, raisins and molasses stand out in the mouth, with a spicy edge on the tongue, thanks to which the finish is balanced and lasting.

If you have a white Port wine of the Colheita type poured in a glass, be sure that you have the honor of a very complex and full-bodied drink.

It is served at temperatures between 6 and 10 °C, preferably with salty dishes or fruit desserts.

White Port 10, 20, 30, 40 Years Old (age indicated White Port wines)

Apart from the classic Vintage Port, which means Ruby-style wines, very popular and valued are the dated Tawny, which are Port wines aged in wood. They are blends of wines (blends) with an average age of 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. Blue grape varieties are used for their production.

However, the same method of maturation is also found in white varieties.

They appear on the market in small quantities, but they are definitely worth tasting. It is slightly cheaper in price than the dated classic Tawny, which, however, does not reduce the gourmet experience at all.

What is Port Wine
Styles of Port Wine
Port Wine production
History of Port Wine
Port Wine origin