The first chilly nights of the season have fallen here in the Midwest and much of the rest of the country. When temperatures dip into the forties at night and don't outreach the sixties during the day, it's safe to put away the seersucker suit and white jeans. The crisp morning air is the harbinger of the coming equinox and the solstice to follow. For the time being, though, we give ourselves permission to enjoy the relief from summer's extremes without dusting off the shovels or trading sandals in for flannels.
We also see the changes reflected in the produce section. Acorn, butternut, pumpkin...squashes everywhere you look. Our palates begin to crave comfort food that doesn't depend on the grill: meatloaf, stewed poultry, and raviolis. And with these changes come the attendant shifting of accompanying wines. The jagged-edged Sauvignon Blancs that enticed during August no longer fit right, nor do the light-hearted red blends that did the trick with charred fare. No, in this shoulder season we flirt with heavier whites and more serious, acid-threaded reds. But even as we try not to get ahead of ourselves, every Port lover begins to squirm with the anticipation of the first frost.
All the signs are present: we are now entering Port season. Let us rejoice.
And with that as a lengthy preamble, a plea for the ladies...
The archetypal Port drinker persona clings to wine culture like dust on century-old bottles: fat, old white guy, brows arched and head tilted slightly so as to maximize nose-glass occupancy. How this has survived the ages is beyond comprehension. Forget about the sexual revolution, egalitarianism, and the softening of wine culture elitism - Port, perhaps more than any other wine, fits a feminine bias better than a pair of Jimmy Choos. This is true both on its surface and at its core.
For starters, Port is sweet, evocative, profound, mercurial, intoxicating, and more complicated than a passionate Italian. If that isn't a list of descriptors expensive perfume makers aspire to invoke in their target market, then, crap, it certainly is for lingerie designers. Port is also delicate even in its most heavy-handed iterations, a juxtaposition not unlike Mars vs Venus and one which the fairer sex is born understanding. Port also comes in so broad a range of colors and styles, Bobbi Brown's chief cosmetologist is probably envious of its infinite hues. The comparisons go on and on and as they do the mystery continues as to why Port hasn't caught on as a cool, hip, go-to beverage for sophisticated women ages 21-101.
This year's annual plea for readers to reinvigorate their curiosity of this nectar is directed more specifically to the ladies. Do not let Senatorial types keep the corner on the market for enjoying this exceedingly underappreciated elixir. It's just too good - and too perfectly suited to your unique perspectives - to go unloved.