Thursday 20 September 2018

Cockburn's Port

Producer: Cockburn's

In these days of Brexit and the weakening pound, it is difficult to imagine that at its peak the British Empire controlled nearly a quarter of the world’s population and land area. Whether imperialism has been good or bad for the world is open to debate, but I am grateful for at least one lasting legacy – port wine. Thanks to the alliance between Portugal and England, British merchants have had a substantial presence in the town of Porto since the 17th century. Many of them dedicated themselves to the wine trade, which offered better profit margins than other goods. The Treaty of Methuen, which reduced the tax on Portuguese wines entering England, further encouraged the growth of the wine industry in the Douro region. To ensure that the wines would not spoil during the long sea journey, they were often fortified with brandy, a precursor to the many styles of port in the market today.