Wood Aged Ports are aged in contact with oxygen in small seasoned oak barrels or larger seasoned oak vats and that are ready to be consumed when bottled. Secured by the signature T-Cap cork - they need no ageing. These ports are best served slightly chilled (about 55°F) and with a proper Port glass.
Bottle Aged Ports are bottled when young and are then aged in the cellar in bottles with a driven cork. They mature more slowly than wines in barrel. These wines require extra care during cellaring and serving.
Life in the bottle
The life cycle of vintage port takes place over the many years of bottle aging. Initially, vintage port is going to be robust: very full flavored and dominated by red and black berry fruit flavors. Approximately around 8-10 years the wine becomes stagnant and the vibrant fresh fruit character begins to subside, but no clear new flavors have arisen yet to take their place. After about 15+ years the wine has matured to a port with flavors of dried fruits, particularly figs, cherry and black cherry, marzipan, pepper and spice may also appear. From this point to about 30 years the wine continues to develop creating more complex tastes and aromas. Some fine ports can age up to 40-50 years.
Vintage Port, like all fine wines, prefers to remain undisturbed, lying on its side in a dark and humid place at a stable temperature of between 55°F and 65°F to mature properly. But if you are not blessed with the classic underground stone cellar, do not despair! With a little care, wine can be stored at home, or you can store it in wine storage cellar.
When assessing your home for a suitable site for storing Vintage Port or any fine wine these should be your considerations:
A dark place – light is an enemy
The temperature should be constant. Constancy is more important than the actual temperature, though you do want to choose a cool place, 65°F or less.
Humidity should not be an issue unless you live in a very dry climate or use dehumidifiers in your home in which case try to store the wine in a place with some natural humidity, to help keep the corks in good condition
All fine wines should be stored lying on their side and remain undisturbed until brought out for enjoyment. Traditionally Vintage Port bottles have a splash of white paint which was kept uppermost in storage, so that the crust would develop uniformly in one place.