By Christopher Matthews
I had cynical thoughts after hearing about the release of a rosé Port last year. “Pink” Port? Another Johnny-come-lately attempt to cash in on the rising rosé tide hitting these shores in recent years, I speculated.
Nevertheless, when searching recently for an appropriate dinner party gift (in a wine shop, naturally!), my eye was drawn to a pretty magenta-colored bottle, Croft’s Pink Port (NV). As Croft is a quality Port house, and because we were going to our friends Joe and Mitchell, two intrepid foodies who enjoy being guinea pigs for the larger wine-drinking public, I couldn’t resist the novelty.
Like all Ports, the Croft pink is a Portuguese fortified wine from the Douro region. Where the rosé differs from other Ports is that the base wine has had only limited grape skin contact – no foot treading here – which yields a deep pink (as opposed to inky purple) hue, and a lighter, far less tannic wine. No need for serious bottle or wood age. The pink is all about fresh fruit and current drinking, not unlike most rose wines. And, similarly, the pink Port should be served chilled.
After dinner, Mitchell cracked open the Croft and poured us all a small glass – at 19% ABV, a 2 ounce pour is plenty – to go with their homemade strawberry ice cream. The reaction was a simultaneous “wow, this is good!” Brimming with pretty sweet red berry fruit and a peppery spice derived from traditional Port grapes, it was balanced and light on its feet, and a superb complement to the strawberry ice cream. Unfortunately I had to drive, but the hosts enjoyed another glass (or two)!
Croft is definitely on to something here. And it need not be limited to dessert. Over rocks in a highball glass with a splash of soda and a lemon slice makes for a refreshing aperitif.