Here I am, stretched out on the chaise longue, reading Moby Dick (for the seventh time). I’m still dazzled by the great length of the port sampled at a demanding tutored tasting I’m glad to have attended a little earlier.
The glassware held a vertical, diagonal, criss-cross flight of ports produced by shippers Fonseca. Owned by the same group as Taylor’s, Fonseca makes ports in a rich, densely plummy style.
I happily nosed the nutty but young tawny, a decent ruby for everyday sipping and their value for money, branded superior ruby port Bin 27.
Then, I plunged into the two vintage offerings produced under the Fonseca-Guimaraens flag, which is their second label for excellent quality port of the vintage made in the best non-declared years. Both the Guimaraens 1986 (although not one of the finest years) and the ripe, plummy-minty 1978 were delicious, say, a whale of an experience.
Finally, I drowned in the two declared vintage treats: Fonseca 1985 (still a bit closed perhaps) and the spirity Fonseca 1970 (only four years younger than World Cup vintage 1966).
Dreams come true. Bags loaded with figs, raisins, chocolate, things deep, dark and powerful yet superbly perfumed with an exotic, spicy, complex lingering; very lush, expansive, twice over.
The sudden awakening came when another rather too enthusiastic guest asked the tutor ‘what possibly could be done to make fish go with the blockbuster red delights in front of us’?
In the past I’ve paired wine with the strangest of foods, even with music and the tube. I can match a particular wine with a season – Port with Christmas, for example – with the climate and with all kinds of celebratory life passages, but a glass of ruby with fish?
Apparently, there’s something about Port that inspires… Port is food for meditation, the sort of skullcap work that excuses from labour after overindulgence.
Hence, as I lay lazily with Dicky, I realise there’s no better pairing for Port than literary company. Ample are the pairings, but nary a word about picking just the right drink to accompany a satisfying book or vice versa. And, why not come up with something more substantial than ‘white wine with sea stories’?
Personally, I’d happily marry Bin 27 and whale!