Why a port –style wine is food’s best friend (no, not just dessert) – With the first Portuguese grapes planted in the 70’s in Calitzdorp, De Krans organically gravitated towards producing exceptional quality port-style wines. Backed up by several top awards for these wines, De Krans has managed to carve a name for itself through the years as being one of the leading port-style wine producers in the country. Their flagship, the Cape Vintage Reserve boasts eleven vintages, being awarded with the sought-after 5-star rating in Platter’s Wine Guide, with the most recent Cape Vintage Reserve 2015 scoring 96 points (and earning the title of Best Fortified Wine in South Africa) in the 2017 Tim Atkin SA Wine Report, as well as winning a Veritas Gold medal. The De Krans Premium Cape Ruby also boasts 12 years of Platter’s 4-star ratings, with the Cape Tawny Limited Release receiving a 4½ and Cape Vintage a 4-star rating, respectively, in the 2018 Platter’s Wine Guide. In addition, the Cape Tawny Limited Release scored 92 points in the Tim Atkin 2017 SA Wine Report and won a Gold medal at the 2017 Veritas Awards.
While these stickers are eye catching on a bottle, a port-style wine shouldn’t only serve as a trophy sitting in a glass cabinet left to mature for 10 or 20 years (remember, unopened). While saving a special bottle for a special occasion or having a chance to taste a 20-year-old Tawny is quite an experience and of course warranted, port-style wines should be enjoyed at different occasions with an assortment of foods throughout the year.
Port should be celebrated in practice as much as in theory and when it comes to scope of practice, a port can really do it all. In retrospect, officially throwing “wine” into the mix is in fact much more conducive to promoting port and food pairings and may be more beneficial than we know for the future of port-style wines. It allows the consumer to casually move away from the port by the glass-, after dinner-, fireplace scenario.
While there are many different port styles, two favourites are without a doubt the Premium Cape Ruby and the Cape Vintage. The Ruby is considered the most popular style of the Cape port style wines due to its accessible palate, fruity character and versatility in functionality. The De Krans Premium Cape Ruby is a non-vintage port-style wine and is made up of a blend of between six months and three years in oak. This wine is known for its signature deep Ruby colour, and ripe fruit and spicy aromas. The Cape Ruby pairs well with traditional Cape bobotie, waterblommetjie –bredie, rustic pastas and hearty soups. What makes the De Krans Premium Cape Ruby extra attractive is its price, with it being the most affordable of the port styles at R75 per bottle approximate retail price.
On the other hand, the De Krans Cape Vintage is more intense, full bodied, structured, “drier” in style and darker in colour. This wine has been made of grapes of a single vintage and oak matured for at least a year. Vintage ports are best paired with Karoo lamb potjie, venison pie, roasted vegetable lasagna or a selection of cheeses. The De Krans Cape Vintage, the fastest growing port style in SA, retails at R95 per bottle.
Furthermore, the De Krans Cape Tawny Limited Release is the perfect partner with brown onion soup, loin of pork, stuffed with dried fruit or with prawns prepared in a light Malaysian style. In turn, the De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve is superb with venison and wild fowl. The versatility of different port styles allows for port- style wines to not only be paired with food, but to use it to cook with. Don’t feel bad to pour the entire bottle of ruby (or vintage, depending on your budget) over that leg of lamb or in the potjie, as you will no doubt taste the difference it makes to the dish! A match made in culinary heaven.
The beauty of port style wines is their incredible versatility in where and when to use them. De Krans played a pivotal role in promoting the idea of serving port chilled, with crushed ice, or using it as a cocktail mixer to signify that port could indeed be enjoyed throughout the year. Since making the first Pink Port in South Africa in 2008, the team has developed several drinks using the pink port. The Ginger up (pour De Krans Original Cape Pink in a high ball glass filled with crushed ice, a shot of Gin, a dash of bitters and topped up with ginger beer. The perfect thirst quencher) is a firm favourite. Alternatively, make your guests swoon over a champagne glass filled with 3:1 MCC Brut to Cape Pink – and it’s pretty too.
For dessert the options are plenty and abundantly delicious. The De Krans Cape Tawny Limited Release (although serve chilled it is absolutely yum) pairs perfectly with crème brûlée or malva pudding or served with a cheeseboard. Be sure to slightly bake the cheese, drizzle with some honey and a selection of nuts. The toffee, hazelnut, caramel flavours will definitely shine through. For baked chocolate desserts such as chocolate brownies, chocolate fondant or to use in an ice cream sauce, the Cape Ruby or Cape Vintage are the perfect partners to these dishes. Another new pairing discovery is the Cape Pink with white pepper corn panna cotta – an unconventional yet delicious pairing, but it works.
For the more inventive at heart, why not experiment with the De Krans Espresso and whip up your own Espresso Martini using a recipe courtesy of De Krans Bistro and Deli manager, Shannon Botes. Mix three parts espresso dessert wine, one-part espresso (cold), and one-part vodka. Shake it up, decant into an elegant cocktail glass and garnish with coffee beans. A guaranteed show stopper.
The Cape Vintage Reserve is considered the benchmark of all things port and is usually darker, very structured and intense and full in flavor. This style is bold and can really stand its own with mature cheeses like blue cheese or simply savour on its own. And if you want to go old school and have a glass of port after dinner, do remember to chuck that small cherry glass. Yes, they are cute and tiny but, really, they’re not doing the port-style wine any justice. After all, a port is still a wine. You wouldn’t serve a robust red wine in such a small glass, so you shouldn’t put the port through the same misery. Chances are it will feel trapped and highly under appreciated. It needs the space to shine, for you to swirl and whirl and appreciate the beautiful array of colours the different port styles represents.
For more information on the port-style and other wines of De Krans, please phone us on +27 (0)44 2133314, or visit our website at www.dekrans.co.za.