I don’t know about you, but hot summer temperatures can make me lazy. I prefer to keep food preparation simple and the same applies to summer sipping. Pouring a glass of chilled wine is about as simple as it gets, but it’s also fun to mix things up a bit on occasion. I have a couple of suggestions for refreshing, summer sipping that uses White Port and Rainwater Madeira to slake your summer thirst. We received both wines as tasting samples.
Warre’s Fine White Port
Warre’s White Port is made using the traditional white grape varieties of the Douro DOC. Fermentation is arrested with the addition of neutral grape spirits resulting in a finished wine that is medium-dry with 19% abv. Brief aging in oak casks and stainless steel follows before bottling.
Warre’s Fine White Port — pale yellow in the glass with aromas and flavors of dried figs and golden raisins. The Port is viscous, warming and a bit sweet. 19% abv. SRP $17.99
This is a drink-now White Port perfect for sipping before or after a meal. But, in summer I’m looking for something lower in alcohol and more refreshing. Cue the tonic water.
Warre’s White Port and Tonic: fill a tall glass with ice. Add equal portions of Warre’s White Port and tonic water. Garnish with a lemon. Enjoy.
Tonic water lightens the flavors and impact of the alcohol considerably, with the sweetness of the White Port providing a counterpoint to the slight bitterness of the tonic. It’s a pretty drink that is refreshing and low in alcohol. And best of all it’s easy. Slicing the lemon for garnish is the hardest part.
The Kitchn recommends 2:1 ratio of tonic to white Port + garnish of orange. Use the proportions that suit your taste.
If you’re interested in making cocktails using White Port, Food and Wine magazine has you covered.
Miles Rainwater Madeira
Similar to Port wine, Madeira is made by fermenting grapes off the skins before stopping fermentation with the addition of neutral grape spirits. The wine’s sweetness is determined by how soon (sweet) or late (dry) fermentation is stopped.
Miles Rainwater Madeira is an inexpensive style of Madeira made using heated stainless steel tanks (in place of a lengthy process involving large casks stored warehouses or heated rooms). Then it is aged for two years (as opposed to many, many years of aging in wooden casks) before being bottled as a 3-year-old Madeira. The flavors are less concentrated in this style of Madeira and is perfect to use in mixing cocktails.
Miles Rainwater Medium Dry Madeira — light golden-amber in the glass with aromas and flavors of toasted hazelnuts, dried fruit and caramel. The Madeira is round and warming with a slightly sweet finish. 18% abv. SRP $16.99
Similar to White Port, this Rainwater Madeira may be enjoyed as an aperitif or after a meal. To lighten things up a bit add Tonic water as above.
Miles Rainwater Medium Dry Madeira and Tonic: fill a tall glass with ice. Add equal parts White Port and tonic water. Garnish with lemon. Enjoy.
The nuttiness of the Rainwater Madeira still comes through when mixed with Tonic water, but the overall drink is much lighter and more refreshing.
I took my inspiration for this drink from Garden & Gun. I used lemon as garnish in both drinks because we have a lemon tree and by this time of year the lemons are super juicy and have become a bit sweet. Feel free to use lime or orange as well.
For recipes using Rainwater Madeira and other spirits see these suggestions from Kindred Cocktails.
My first experience with White Port was over 20 years ago in the Azores Islands. It was early on a Sunday afternoon when we wandered into the bar of the Angra Hotel in Angra do Heroísmo on the island of Terceira. We went into the bar to watch the Formula 1 race, not have a drink. The bartender suggested a little glass of White Port and I took his suggestion mainly because I’d never heard of white Port. I remember it as a bit sweet and too strong.
I haven’t had a glass of White Port since. I was reminded of White Port again when I watched A Year in Port sometime back. I recall it being served with tonic and lime in at least one scene in the movie. At the time I thought that was a brilliant idea and now I’ve confirmed for myself that it is!