Anything to do with Port!

Cheers for Dads!

With Father’s day fast approaching (18th June this year), we think all Dad’s deserve a special treat this month. So why not treat your super dad to a special bottle of Port this Father’s day. We’ve got everything you might need from ruby, tawny, vintage and even white port – so why not check out our Port guide below.  

Ruby port


Ruby Ports are aged for no more than 3 years in barrels or stainless steel vats and are meant to be drunk young. They are the ideal partner for a cheeseboard or chocolate dessert. They also make fantastic Port wine reductions to complement roast beef or duck.  Try with full flavoured cheeses such as a good farmhouse Cheddar, Red Leicester or gorgonzola. The sweet and full berry flavours of ruby port complement chocolate desserts such as a molten chocolate cake or a chocolate-walnut tart. Alternatively, a rich cherry pie would work brilliantly.

Tawny port


Tawny ports are aged in smaller barrels than ruby ports. This allows the wine to oxidise producing a lighter tawny colour. Tawny port is delicious when matched with a hard, nutty cheese or a pudding such as apple pie, tarte tatin, baked figs or caramel tart. Cheeses such as Parmesan and Manchego complement the naturally nutty flavours of tawny ports. Alternatively, go for any eggy dessert—for which the Portuguese are famous – such as Pastel de nata or a crème brûlée.

Vintage Port


Vintage Port is made from the very best grapes grown in a single year. Vintages are not necessarily declared every year and so a declared vintage port really is something special. Great vintages can be kept for years and even decades before drinking. Vintage port works beautifully with dark chocolate or a really good stilton cheese.

White Port


For those wanting to try something a bit different, white port might just be the ticket. White port is wonderful when served poured over ice or with tonic and pairs well with olives, nuts, gouda and seafood.

To give Dad’s an extra treat we have 10% off all our Ports this June.

What’s more, we offer a range of gift boxing options to really add a touch of luxury. We hand wrap all gifts and can include a personalised gift card. Then we deliver them straight to your door (or your dad’s if that’s easier).

Charles’ Ultimate Gift Buying Guide

At Charles Rose Wines, we make finding the perfect Christmas gift easy. Whether it’s a fine wine, aged port or a vintage champagne, we have a fantastic range of perfect presents this Christmas.
If you are unsure of what is the best choice for that special someone this Christmas, why not have a look at our suggestions for a very merry Christmas.

Dapper Dads (and Grandads)

Quinta do Noval 20 Year Old Tawny Port


This delicious blend of ports is carefully matured in oak casks. The perfect way to round off a delicious Christmas lunch.

Marvellous Mums (and Grandmas)

The Mionetto Sergio Prosecco or Mionetto Sergio Rose Spumante

Whether you opt for prosecco or the Rose spumante, mum’s everywhere are bound to love these superb sparkling wines from the Veneto and Trentino areas of Italy.

Party Princesses

Deutz Brut Rose Champagne


It’s party season and what better way for party princesses to celebrate than with a glass of fabulous pink champagne in hand.

Lovers of all things Vintage

Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port 2005


A superb vintage port, perfect to enjoy now.

Those who dare to be different

Quinta do Noval White Port


Perfect for those who love to try new things.

Gonzalez Byass 12 Anos Palo Cortado Sherry


While Sherry used to be reserved for the Christmas trifle, this wine is not just for Christmas and is certainly on trend this year.

The Wine Aficionado

The Around the World Mixed Case

Case The Aroud The World

If you can’t decide between white or red, then our Around the World case will do the job for you. A great way for wine aficionado’s to sample a wide range of wines.

Organic Foodies/Gin Lover

Forest Gin, Premium London Gry Gin


This award winning gin is hand-crafted in small batches and is made with organic certified botanicals foraged from Macclesfield Forest.

If you would like any more help, please be sure to email, tweet or connect with us on facebookand our helpful team of wine experts will be sure to point you in the right direction.

Happy hunting!

It’s Christmas time, anyone for Port?

We may be biased but in our opinion there is nothing finer than a bottle of Port at Christmas time… or any time for that matter!

When paired with a good stilton, there is little better, but below are some other excellent food pairings to try over the festive season.

Ruby port

Noval Fine Ruby

Ruby Ports are the ideal partner for a cheeseboard or chocolate dessert. They also make fantastic Port wine reductions to complement roast beef or duck.Try with full flavoured cheeses such as a good farmhouse Cheddar, Red Leicester or gorgonzola.

The sweet and full berry flavours of ruby port complement chocolate desserts such as a molten chocolate cake or a chocolate-walnut tart. Alternatively, a rich cherry pie would work brilliantly.

We love Quinta do Noval’s Ruby Port, so much that we stock it!

Tawny port

Noval 20

A glass of aged tawny port is delicious when matched with a hard, nutty cheese or a pudding such as apple pie, tarte tatin, baked figs or caramel tart.

Cheeses such as Parmesan and Manchego complement the naturally nutty flavours of tawny ports. Alternatively, go for any eggy dessert—for which the Portuguese are famous – such as Pastel de nata or a crème brûlée.

Be warned though, if you start eating Pastel de nata you will find it impossible to stop!

Quinta do Noval have wonderful Tawny ports, available from us here.

Vintage Port

Noval Silval 2005

A vintage is only declared when the port house believes it has a truly exceptional wine.

The truly classic pairing is Vintage Port with blue cheeses such as Stilton. The tangy, soft and mellow character of mature blue cheese compliments the powerful character of Vintage Port. If Stilton isn’t your thing, you could consider Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Saint Agur Blue.

If you are looking for the punch of a Vintage but at a more reasonable price then you should consider Quinta do Noval’s Silval Port. Quinta do Noval is one of the top Port houses in the World and produces the internationally renowned Nacionale. The Silval vintages are only declared in very good years and this is an excellent example. This wine also represents superb value for money compared to other vintage ports.

Snap it up here.

White Port

Noval White

White port is wonderful when served chilled as an aperitif, or poured over ice, and pairs well with olives, nuts, gouda and similar cheeses, or even seafood.

Quinta do Noval produce a wonderful dry white port, available from us here.

If these pairing suggestions have whet (that’s the right spelling) your appetite, then check out our range of Ports.

New Products Launched!!!

At Charles Rose Wines we work hard to bring you top quality wines at fantastic prices and, even if we do say so, we’ve done it again!

We are extremely proud to announce a whole range of fantastic new products. Please allow us to introduce you to them…


Forest Gin

An exceptional spirit distilled in small batches by husband and wife team, Lindsay and Karl Bond at their distillery in Macclesfield. This fantastic gin is produced using organic juniper berries, coriander seeds and botanicals foraged directly from Macclesfield Forest.

The gin comes in a beautiful screen-printed stoneware bottle with a design created by papercuts artist Suzy Taylor. Each bottle is individually made and is printed by hand. Plus, we’re not the only ones to fall in love with this wonderful gin; it recently scooped Silver in the Ultra Premium Gin category at the Global Gin Masters Competition 2015.

See here for further details.

Noval Silval 2005

Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port 2005

Quinta do Noval is one of the top Port houses in the World and produces the internationally renowned Nacionale. The Silval vintages are only declared in very good years and this is an excellent example. This wine also represents superb value for money compared to other vintage ports.

Snap it up here.


Gonzalez Byass 12 Años Palo Cortado Sherry

This fantastic sherry comes from the Jerez D.O. in Spain and is made from handpicked Palomino grapes. The grapes are lightly pressed before being fermented in stainless steel vats, which are then aged for 12 years in North American Oak barrels. This sherry is for life, not just for Christmas!

Click here for more information.

Tosti Prosecco Brut Atelie

Tosti Prosecco Brut Atelie DOC

For seven generations the Bosca family have been producing wines in the Asti region of Piedmont, Italy. This prosecco is fun and refreshing and to the best of our knowledge, they are the only producer to create a bottle with a naval (see below)!

Get yourself a fizztastic time here.

Tosti Pinot Grigio Rose

Tosti Pinot Grigio Rose Sparkling Wine

Produced by the same Bosca family described above, this elegant and smooth sparkling wine is the perfect with chicken, white meats and fish. The bottle features the famous Tosti naval!

Available here.

For more details about these, and our other fantastic wines and spirits, please see our website. Happy drinking!

Smoking Bishop: A Great Way To Use Up Leftover Port

Christmas and New Year are now but a distant memory… but you’ve still got some Port left. If at this point you are thinking:

“No I haven’t, I drank it all”

then you can skim read the rest of this post!

If by some miracle you do have some port left, here is a great idea on how to use it up.

Smoking Bishop

If you’ve never seen a Smoking Bishop then the good news is you can make one with relatively few ingredients. It’s basically a mulled wine recipe using Port, red wine and some spices.

Whilst researching this recipe I was surprised to learn that it was mentioned in arguably the first cookbook written for ordinary people. Eliza Acton, an English poet and cook, wrote Modern Cookery for Private Families which was published in 1845. Apparently, the cookbook set the standard for listing ingredients and suggesting cooking times for each recipe. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was apparently inspired by it.

Eliza’s recipe is a bit elaborate, for example saying:

Boil one bottle of port wine, burn a portion of the spirit out of it by applying a lighted paper to the saucepan…

At that point the thought of using a whole bottle and possibly losing our eyebrows turned us off this recipe, so here is the one we made instead.


  • 150ml of Port – we used Ruby but any will do
  • 150ml of red wine – we used Rioja, buy again any will do
  • 100ml of orange juice – we used fresh, smooth without bits, use your judgment!
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 medium sized orange
  • some whole cloves

Optional (if you have it)

  • 1 pinch of allspice
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of ginger

Putting it together

Cut the orange into quarters then cut the quarters in half or into three to make eight or twelves wedges. Stud each of the wedges with three or four cloves.

Put all the ingredients together in a saucepan on a low heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. This should allow the honey to dissolve and the spices to infuse. Ladle into heat proof glasses and you’re done!

(Note, push those cloves in, ours all fell out in the pan!)

Celebrate With A Champagne & Port Cocktail

Here at Charles Rose Wines we love Champagne and we love Port. IF you struggle to choose between them then thankfully, there’s a celebration drink which uses both!

Nelson’s Blood Champagne Cocktail is so named for the bitter-sweet victory of the British fleet over the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21st 1805. Sweet as this prevented Napoleon Bonepart’s ships from breaking the British naval blockade. Bitter as it cost Admiral Horatio Nelson, who commanded the British fleet, his life.

It’s up to you whether or not you acknowledge the history behind this particular cocktail, although if you had no reason to celebrate on the 21st of October, now you do! Either way, its a great drink, and here is our spin on how to make it.


Optional – for frosting:

  • fruit juice or syrup
  • fine white sugar, brown sugar or icing sugar
  • tea plate or small shallow bowl (larger than the glass you want to use)
  • flat plate for the sugar

Frosting Preparation (Optional)

Rinse a glass of your choice in cold water and put it in a freezer for half an hour.

Whist your glass is cooling prep your frosting by cutting a slice of fruit if you are using fruit, and putting your chosen sugar onto a flat plate so you can press your glass into it when it is ready.

When the glass has frosted moisten the rim of it so that the sugar will stick. If you are using an actual fruit you can gentry run some cut fruit around the edge. If you are using actual juice of syrup then pour or squeeze a little onto a tea plate and gently place the glass into the liquid. Then press the glass into the sugar.

To twist or not to twist… often debated, do what you think works best. Twisting will add more coating.

Your glass is now frosted!

Drink Mixing

Carefully pour a shot (40ml or so) of Port into your glass. Top this off with Champagne and gently stir to mix but not release too much of the fizz. Pour carefully so as not to disturb your beautiful frosting!

That’s it! A perfect celebratory drink combining two of our favourites!

If you have a favourite cocktail then get in touch and let us know what it is!

The Hoggit (Not Anything To Do With J.R.R. Tolkien… or Peter Jackson)

“For the time will soon come when Hobbits will shape the fortunes of all.”

Prophetic words spoken by Lady Galadriel. However, there is an arguably more important but more obscure, similar sounding word, which you might not have heard of… the hoggit. For anyone familiar with farming we aren’t not talking about sheep either.

We recently posted about the port tradition of passing port round the table, periodically invoking the name of the Bishop of Norwich if necessary.

There is a traditional way of avoiding this awkward situation. That’s right, you can use a hoggit. Before you have visions of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee serving your drinks, let me explain that a hoggit is a kind of decanter.

It has a curved bottom which means that it cannot be set down on the table without falling over. It is designed to only sit on a special curved wooden rest, which usually sits to the right of the host. The host may then be assured that the port will be passed all the way around the table and can only be set down again on it’s base.

Why is it called a hoggit? Erm… ahem… because it means you can’t hoggit?!

Image is of a Hobbit Hole“ by Jeff HitchcockFlickr: Butterfly Catcher. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Do You Know The Bishop Of Norwich?


“He’s a terribly good chap, but he always forgets to pass the port.”

Port etiquette is a little strange but also very helpful. Its considered bad form to fail to pass a port decanter whilst there is still some in it. Being British though, we can’t simply point this out, so instead the tradition is to ask the person in possession of the decanter if they know the Bishop of Norwich.

If they are familiar with this tradition they’ll apologise and pass it, otherwise you’ll have to politely explain using the quoted sentence above.

This oddity aside port etiquette is pretty practical and highly sociable. The tradition is that the decanter is passed to the left with the person receiving it pouring a glass for the person on their right before passing it on. Any pauses can be remedied with by an enquiry about the good Bishop.

Nobody knows why the Bishop of Norwich bares the historical brunt of this tradition, nor which Bishop it actually refers to. Similarly, nobody knows why port goes to the left. Perhaps using your left hand allows you to keep your sword hand ready to defend yourself against anyone who is about to impune your honour. Maybe its because Port is synonymous with the Navy and the port side of a boat is on the left when facing the bows (front).

Never-the-less the reason the decanter has to keep moving is because its highly likely the contents are a vintage port. Vintage ports start to lose their character and their quality as soon as they are opened, so you’d be wise to drink up and pass the decanter as quick as you can.

Image is of Richard Corbet, Bishop of Norwich 1632 – 1635, by Sylvester Harding (British Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How (NOT) To Open A Bottle Of Port

A little while ago we posted about the various ways one might attempt to open a bottle of champagne… of course, if you opt for Sabrage then on your head (or your hands) be it!

There is a unique and traditional way top open a bottle of port. It involves heat and tongs… oh and a steady nerve, don’t try this at home unless you know what you are doing!

Get yourself some port tongs

The worst thing you can do when preparing to consume a bottle of vintage port… you know… the one you’ve been waiting a couple of decades to drink… the absolute worst thing you can do is to disturb the sediment. If you do then you’ll have to wait a few days for it to settle before trying again!

Well there is an expert method of opening a bottle but it’s not for the faint hearted. The first step is to heat your port tongs until they are glowing red. Port tongs are specially shaped to close around the neck of a port bottle, and they glow red at around 500 degrees!

Once they are nice and toasty, place them round the neck of the port bottle just below the cork and grip the bottom of the bottle to stop it moving.

After waiting for a minute or so, twist the tongs sharply and hopefully you will have just snapped the top of the bottle off cleanly without sending shards of glass into your expensive vintage Port! Remember to put the very hot tongs down somewhere safe after carefully letting go of the bottle.

You can then smugly decant your port safe in the knowledge that you didn’t disturb the sediment, impressed any onlooker and avoided a horrific and painful injury.


Image of “Rabelo Douro en–Porto” by Photographer: Thomas Istvan Seibel – English Wikipedia: w:en:Image:800px-Blick über den Rio Douro auf Porto.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Rabelos are boats traditionally used to transport barrels of port down the River Douro for storage and aging in caves at Vila Nova de Gaia near Porto.

Perplexed by Port?

Don’t know your ruby from your tawny? Wondering what the difference between vintage and late bottled vintage might be? Let us fill you in!

Why Is It Called Port?

Just to recap, Port is a fortified wine. In the EU port has Protected Designation of Origin status so that only such wine produced in Portugal may be called ‘Port’.

It is produced from grapes grown in the Duoro Valley. The river Duoro flows South-west across the Iberian peninsula from its origin in Spain to where it meets the sea at Portugal’s second largest city, Porto.

It is ‘fortified’ by adding Aguardiente – a spirit similar to brandy – which makes up around a fifth of the finished drink and increases the alcohol content.

There are many different types of Port, we’ll cover the main ones here so at the very least you can impress your friends the next time you open some.


The king of Ports. Produced in small quantities, these wines are independently certified by the Port and Duoro Wine Institute (IVDP). This body has been approving vintages since 1933.

If a shipper believes a wine from a particularly year is good enough they can declare it as a vintage. There are no rules governing how frequently this can be done, but getting it wrong can badly affect international reputation. Typically vintages are declared three of four times a decade.

Vintage Ports have the best flavour profiles and are incredibly desirable and valuable. Major shippers may declare between 5,000 and 15,000 cases. More recently shippers such as Quinta do Noval have declared as few as 1,000 cases.

The major disadvantage with Vintage Ports is that they generally do not reach their peak until they are 20 to 40 years old.

If you don’t have the patience to wait, and we certainly don’t, Aged Tawny Port is thankfully a fantastic alternative.

Aged Tawny

If Vintage is the king then this is most certainly the queen. So called as the ageing process changes the colour of the wine from a deep ruby red to an amber-tawny colour.

Aged tawnies are continuously monitored and blended to produce a wine with a deep and rich flavour. These are bottles as an approximate age (10, 20, 30, 40 and over 40) and are independently certified by the IVDP.

Although Vintage Port is undoubtedly the best, aged tawnies are almost as good and offer fantastic value. Best of all, you can drink them straight away instead of gazing at them lustfully for the the next three of four decades.

If you are sold on aged tawny then why not try our Quinta do Noval Ten Year Old Tawny Port or Twenty Year Old Tawny Port.

Late Bottled Vintage

This is wine produced from grapes from a single year but due to lack of demand is not bottled until four to six years after the vintage. These have evolved into two distinct types; filtered and unfiltered. Unfiltered wines need to be decanted to remove sediment. Filtered and fined wines can be consumed straight from the bottle and do not require decanting.

LBV’s do not tend to be as full bodied as vintage ports but are a fraction of the price. As they are left in barrels to age, once bottled they do not tend to improve much with age and are ready to drink immediately

Crusted Port

Often called ‘the poor man’s vintage port’, these are wines aged in large oak vats consisting of a blend of wines from several vintages. They are called ‘crusted’ due to the sediment they leave in the bottle.

Crusted ports can improve a little in the bottle but are generally intended to be consumed when purchased. The date on the bottle is the bottling date. Crusted ports are required to be aged in bottle for at least three years.


These can be great value. They are a blend of higher quality wines aged for around seven years in wood.


These are so named for their youthful colour and taste, aged for three years before bottling. These are intended to be enjoyed once purchased, like our own Quinta do Noval Ruby Port. Often wonderfully fun and do not need to be decanted.


These are made from white grapes and often bottled young. Great served with ice or as a refreshing cocktail. Our own Quinta do Noval Extra Dry White Port is a great example and you should definitely try it in a portonic!

Whichever type you choose remember that Port is not solely a Christmas drink! It can be enjoyed all year round so don’t restrict yourself to a few weeks of the year!

Image is by mat’s eye (Flickr: The Douro Valley) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons