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Port - the history behind this superb drink

May 10, 2018

Port - the history behind this superb drink

Port is a truly fantastic alcoholic beverage, and hugely popular around the world. But how many of us know the true history behind this delicious drink? Here’s all you need to know about how port came to be…

Early origins in Portugal

When the Romans first arrived in Portugal, they promptly set about growing vineyards which produced wine-ready grapes. This process continued for over five hundred years on the banks of the Douro River, where it all began so long ago. Port later became a major export for the Portuguese from 1143 onwards, but it wasn’t until much later that ‘Port’ as we now recognise it began to take shape. The first wines carrying this name didn’t leave Portuguese shores until the 17th century, but the route to this process was a long time in the making.

Close ties with England

In 1386, Portugal and England signed the Treaty of Windsor, which helped to solidify a close trading relationship between the two countries. The treaty was multi-faceted, covering everything from politics to the military – but it also allowed merchants the right to reside in one another’s lands for the sake of trade and progress. By the 15th century, Portuguese wine was being shipped in vast quantities to England.

Later development

A new treaty was developed in 1654, which allowed English and Scottish merchants in Portugal the right to certain preferential customs duties. These merchants imported precious commodities to the country such as cloth and wool, and in return exported fruit, oil and grains – alongside the drink which we now know as ‘Port’, but which was then known simply as ‘Red Portugal’. Light and acidic, the wine grew exceptionally popular with British customers. Earlier wines from the area had often failed to survive the journey back to England, and it is thought the process which creates ‘Port’ was invented by accident by two brothers who decided to add grape brandy to the fortification process, in an effort to help it maintain it’s quality.

Looking for the perfect port gifts for a loved one? Then head to Hamper Lounge and browse our range of gifts and hampers, available for next day delivery within the UK. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even create your own hamper for fast port delivery alongside anything else from the store which takes your fancy!