Sunday, December 12, 2010

Quinta do Noval Black Port $20.00 (not TJ's) ***

Being included in a Sunday night family dinner is a great thing.  It was a quiet rainy weekend; just me, the dog and the cat.  Rain was bucketing down, so I stayed in, got a lot of writing done and some Christmas presents finished. I even made progress on some of my reading backlog - pretty much a perfect weekend (which included many cups of tea).  By Sunday night, I was ready for welcoming the Holiday Season.  The rain had let up a bit and as I drove, I saw that Christmas lights have appeared to brighten up the early nights on these short almost-winter days.

While the finishing touches were put on dinner, we started with white wine and a tin of wasabi peanuts.  Then we moved on to prosecco with our pasta with pesto, Caesar Salad, grilled skirt steak and fresh crusty bread.  Prosecco is a festive, welcome addition to any table (well, any table that I am at).  As soon as we finished eating, K announced that we'd have dessert and port in the living room by the fire. I smiled and was glad that I had my blackberry, because in my world, drinks + an open fire = a blog post.

Quinta do Noval Black Port from the Duro Valley of Northern Portugal is what I always imagined port to be:  a rich drink that a man would sip while sitting by the fire smoking a cigar. I think that I stereotype way too much, but a sleek modern bottle of this pedigreed libation (drink newly bottled, but the property that produced this port has been around since 1715) would not be out of place in a mahogany library in a stately home, or even in the farmhouse kitchen of my daydreams.  Although I am partial to Tawny Port, a sweeter, golden version of port, this Ruby Port was like a rich, smooth red wine. It is fruity, fresh but thick/substantial, and not too sweet.  It is 19.5 ETOH though, so don't let the smoothness seduce you.  It'll pack a punch. The pastries from Leonetti's were terrific (even of I was dusted/covered by chocolate powder upon biting into a tiramisu square), and the dark chocolate dipped cannoli went really well with the rich plum fruitiness and chocolate undertones of this port.  I say skip the imaginary cigars and nibble a piece really good dark chocolate while sipping this port, it is delicious.

As we sat, chatted and sipped, MEH and I played chess.  The conversation around us went from driving time to Philadelphia to baking Christmas cookies.  Results:  I may have volunteered to make Springerle Christmas Cookies; JPH now holds the (legal) land speed record from Philly to Long Island (his father contested - but S. corroborated and the torch was begrudgingly passed); I hold the land speed record from Boston to Maine (no one contests and it has been verified numerous times by the Maine State Police - oops); and MEH won the chess match (with some coaching from her father).  It was a great night and I am firmly now a fan of Ruby Port, it is a great way to end an evening.

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