THE DRINK NATION IS A FREE RESOURCE FOR FINDING EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT DRINKING IN YOUR LOCATION

After Dinner Drinks: Beginner's Guide to Port, Sherry and Brandy

Not just for Grandpa anymore
After Dinner Drinks: Beginner's Guide to Port, Sherry and Brandy

When someone mentions brandy, you might visualize old men retiring to leather-clad club chairs to discuss politics and smoke cigars. (Or you remember some chick from college we probably don’t want to know the details on...) As far as the drink form goes, digestifs — more commonly known this century as after-dinner drinks — have a bit of a stodgy air to them. However, that is changing.

More and more American restaurants are enhancing digestif selections, taking a nod from the Europeans, where lingering over a snifter after dinner is the norm. So take a pass on the chocolate lava cake, flip over the dessert menu, and class up your dinner with a drink that doctors once prescribed to help aid digestion. We promise it will be much more than medicinal.

On the Menu: Port

Port gets its name from its home country of Portugal, where vintners have been creating fortified wine in the Duoro Valley for centuries. First, wine is made from red grapes. Then, fermentation is halted with the addition of a liquor made from grapes called aguardente, which ups the alcohol content while maintaining the wine’s natural sugars. The result is a sweet and strong drink that is easy to sip and a perfect crossover beverage.

Most often you’ll see three kinds of port on restaurant menus: tawny, ruby, and LBV. Tawny blends are aged in wood, which give them a nutty flavor and a caramel color. Ruby is the simplest and cheapest of the family, aged in cement or steel and as a result, more fruity. For the best local taste of the region order a LBV — late bottled vintage — which contains premium grapes aged for at least four years.

On the Menu: Sherry

Often tied together with its cousin, port, sherry is actually a very unique drink. Made in Spain, there are two major differences between the preparation of sherry and port that affect the end flavor: the grape and the added alcohol. Sherry is made of the white Palomino grape, so there is none of the berry flavor often associated with reds. In contrast to port, grape liquor is added to sherry after fermentation has been completed, so there is considerably less sugar in the finished product. As a result, sherry is sharper and dryer. In fact, it’s not a “dessert wine” at all. If the sherry you are considering is labeled as sweet it’s often a blend of classic sherry and a dessert wine from the region.

On the Menu: Brandy

Call it the happiest accident, but brandy was discovered when trying to ship wine. Wine was distilled to remove the water and preserve it, making it last longer on long trips. The brandy that resulted was placed in barrels for transport, and the intention was to add the water back upon arrival for drinking. But merchants found that the resulting drink after aging in the wood was better than their original wine, and the process became popular.

Today you can find brandy made from quality wine — like those from the Cognac region of France — as well as fruit brandies made from produce other than grapes like the popular calvados, made from apples, or Kirschwasser, made from cherries.

Top photo via Flickr user ghirson; bottom photo: 1851 port wine that was refreshed in the 1940s via Flickr user Ryan Opaz

Recent Articles

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Rejoice: Burger King is Now Serving Booze

Rejoice: Burger King is Now Serving Booze

A Whopper and fries (along with some cheap chicken nuggets) makes a great post-drunk fill-up, but now thanks to the geniuses at the Burger King corpor...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak May 19, 2017
You Can Now Visit an Inflatable Version of Moe's Tavern from 'The Simpsons'

You Can Now Visit an Inflatable Version of Moe's Tavern from 'The Simpsons'

Have you ever wanted to visit the iconic Moe's Tavern from The Simpsons? Well, unless you live in Eugene, OR, ...read more ›

by Alexander Frane May 19, 2017
Eric Wareheim of 'Master of None' & 'Tim and Eric' Is the Latest Celebrity to Release a Wine

Eric Wareheim of 'Master of None' & 'Tim and Eric' Is the Latest Celebrity to Release a Wine

Plenty of celebrities are releasing wine these days, and Eric Wareheim, famous for both Master of None and Tim...read more ›

by The Drink Nation May 17, 2017
SPONSORED
A Booze-Infused Ice Cream Shop Just Opened in NYC

A Booze-Infused Ice Cream Shop Just Opened in NYC

Ah, the Big Apple, always providing the rest of the country with great art, culture, theater and now-perhaps the best innovation to date-the ice cream...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio May 17, 2017
A 100-Year-Old British Man Won Beer For Life

A 100-Year-Old British Man Won Beer For Life

A landlord at a Manchester pub promised a then 92-year-old Arthur Johnson, about eight years ago, that when he turned 100 he'd be entitled to free bee...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio May 17, 2017
Lagunitas Sells Second Half of Stake to Heineken

Lagunitas Sells Second Half of Stake to Heineken

Lagunitas Brewing has announced that it will be selling the last 50% of its stake to Heineken International, The Chicago Tribune reports. ...read more ›

by Alexander Frane May 17, 2017
Bulleit is Releasing a Barrel Proof Frontier Whiskey

Bulleit is Releasing a Barrel Proof Frontier Whiskey

Whiskey fans have a new reason to celebrate: Bulleit, for the first time, is releasing a barrel proof bottle of its famous bourbon....read more ›

by Alexander Frane May 9, 2017
Canadian-Produced Gin Recalled for Having Too Much Booze In It

Canadian-Produced Gin Recalled for Having Too Much Booze In It

Last week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a nationwide recall of Bombay Sapphire’s classic London Dry Gin for containing almost double i...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio May 9, 2017
Anheuser-Busch InBev Has Purchased Wicked Weed

Anheuser-Busch InBev Has Purchased Wicked Weed

Anheuser Busch InBev has made its first craft beer purchase of 2017 with Wicked Weed Brewing, which is based out of North Carolina....read more ›

by The Drink Nation May 3, 2017
Things No One Asked For: Prosecco Glitter

Things No One Asked For: Prosecco Glitter

If your summertime gatherings have lost their sparkle, I've got great news for you: there is now a thing called Prosecco Glitter, and no, it's not the...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak May 2, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close