“At a time like this.” Graham’s 20 Year Tawny Porto

“Higgins, at a time like this, it’s positively indecent that you don’t need a glass of port!” Can you name that Broadway musical? The last time I was quoting it, I was writing about my admiration for the Prager brothers in Napa who, by my estimation, produce the best fortified wines outside of Portugal (and wines far better than many from the geographical eponym of this style). Tonight, I’m not feeling all that decent, and it just felt fitting. For the avid (rabid?) readers of this blog who have, for the second tiresome time in only three years, now had to endure my quoting My Fair Lady, I apologize. A little bit. Sort of.

It’s been a long and tiresome day. After more than a week of celebration, vacation, and relaxation, the family and I piled into the car today and struck out on the more than five hundred mile trek from Deadwood to Omaha. The interstate in South Dakota apparently doubles as population control for the state, as the 80-mile-per-hour speed limit appears to be little more than an unheeded suggestion by locals and travelers alike, people who seem collectively oblivious to icy road conditions, traffic congestion, and deer. We made our way as best we could, stopping to get gas and eat, change diapers, feed children, and stretch. We did our best. I can’t emphasize that enough. But towards the end of a nine hour drive, and after having spent the previous ten days side-by-side in close quarters seemingly without interruption, Sonja and I reached our tipping point. In the last half hour of the drive, hurtful things were said by both of us as the kids snoozed in the back seat, and by the time I pulled us into the driveway, we were both ready to unpack, put the kids to bed, and spend some time alone. She went to the bedroom, and I’m in the kitchen. When I got home, this bottle was waiting for me. Good, I thought. At a time like this I needed a glass of Port.


I scanned the tech sheets and pulled my favorite wine key out to remove the foil. In the bright lights of our kitchen, the color jumped out at me from within the clear glass bottle. The orange-red hue of this aged and amber colored Tawny is beautiful, and beautifully on display in a bottle that allows it to be seen. Gorgeous aromatics — I left the stopper off for all of thirty seconds to take a photograph and the entire kitchen smelled decadently festive, which is a reasonably description for the rich, sensuous nose that alludes accurately to what is to come on the palate. Wonderful nutty flavors, the almond and walnut that I have come to expect from a good Tawny, mingle neatly with orange peel, subtle holiday spices, and overripe honeyed apricots. It is sophisticated, balanced, decadent, and in all ways a beautiful wine. Sitting at the kitchen island, I paired it with some candied pecans, then later with some smelly cheese. (The cheese might not have been quite so smelly two weeks ago when I bought it.) This Port was excellent with both, the lingering finish drawing out the experience. Just the thing I needed.

In reading over the tech sheet that accompanied the bottle, I noted that the winemakers ask that this wine not be served in cordial glasses, which out of pragmatism is what I typically use, but instead in a white wine glass to allow the aromas to be fully appreciated. Begrudgingly, I poured myself a second glass — entirely and only in order to offer fair consideration to the aromatic bouquet mind you. From now on, I’ll be drinking port from my white wine glasses it would seem. The third glass I poured to finalize my tasting notes for this blog. Don’t judge me. Just buy this Port. It’s terrific.


If you’ll forgive me a platitude or two, I think it’s fair to say that marriage is like a good bottle of port wine. You see, this wine wasn’t made twenty years ago. That’s just the average. In this amazing bottle of wine there are wines from forty years or more, and wines that are much more recent, blended together harmoniously to create something beautiful and special. Marriage is the same: all of our lives lead up to matrimony, and the blending of our lifelong experiences, parts of us from forty years ago and parts far more recent, helps to create something uniquely beautiful and undeniably complex. Furthermore, at 20% ABV, this Port will stand the test of time, unable to be damaged by anything short of complete destruction by fire. Again, I’d like to think the same is true for Sonja and I.

It’s time for bed now. Things will be better in the morning, as they almost always are. I suppose the reason we put “20 year” on a bottle is because it is universally understood that in time most things — from relationships to fine wine, improve. This Port helped me pass the evening productively, and for that I’m grateful to Graham’s. Seriously, try this wine. Thanks for reading.

Cheers to longevity, in wine and everywhere else,



2 responses to ““At a time like this.” Graham’s 20 Year Tawny Porto

  1. Great write-up, man. I found you by googling the Pickering quote while drinking the only bottle of port in my little town, but I just might try to find this one. Thanks!


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