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Sherry versus Port

After dinner drinks have been a staple of European tradition for centuries, but what are the key differences between two of our most popular choices? Here is a quick fire guide to our love of sherry and port.

Port is made from grapes in the Douro Valley region in Northern Portugal. First wines known by this name were shipped in second half of the 17th century, but it wasn’t until the 18th century where there was a rapid growth in exports. The end of the Portugese Civil War in the 1830s saw the greatest period of expansion and prosperity as it popularity spread throughout Europe. Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway joined the British and French as valuable admirers and customers.

Other than grape variety (over 100 varieties are sanctioned for port production), the key process that differentiates port from sherry is fortification. Ports are fortified midway through the fermenting stage. Generally speaking there are also more types of port than sherry. These include tawny, colheita, ruby, white and vintage, all come with their own type, usually related to aging.

In terms of flavour, port is fuller, richer and sweeter than sherry, with significantly higher alcohol content at around the 19 to 22 percent mark.


Sherry is made from white grapes in southern Spain around a triangular network of towns including Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Production from this region of Spain has been reported as far back as 1100BC, but first introduced around the world by Christopher Columbus in the 16th century. It was during this time that sherry first became highly fashionable here in the UK.

Sherry is made from three main grape varieties – Palomino, Muscat and Pedro Ximénez. Again, the key process that differentiates sherry from port is the fact it is fortified after the fermenting stage. Styles of sherry depend on both the region and extend of aging, and include Fino, Manzanilla and Oloroso.

Sherry is dry in texture and taste, with a similar alcohol content to wine at around 11 to 12 percent.

Want to find out more?
Join us for our Sherry & Port Evening Dinner.


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