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Drinks: Savoring port wine

Fonseca Porto 2008, $60

Fonseca Porto 2008, $60 Credit: Handout

Port's image takes in tweeds and white tie. It's what Col. Pickering offers Henry Higgins, what Cambridge dons sip, what is served with a wheel of ripe Stilton cheese.

But these snapshots from stage, film and table don't give you the full picture. Ports range widely and should be enjoyed the same way, year-round. After all, there is a James Mason movie called "Spring and Port Wine."

So, consider Dow's Trademark Finest Reserve Port, for which you will not need a decanter. The richly flavored, ruby-shaded, dry and moderately price Port suggests berries and plums, plus chocolate. Enjoy it solo -- and, sure, with some blue cheese and walnuts. A bottle is about $20.

Fonseca Bin No. 27 Porto is a harmonious production, with cherry and cassis notes, some raspberry and immediate appeal. No decanting here, either. Sample the Fonseca with chocolate for an ideal match. Bin No. 27 also goes for about $20.

For a ripe, elegant drink, try Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port, which adds some complexity but requires no special occasion, either. It's delightful at meal's end, even if dinner isn't roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. Figure $25 to $33.

And the Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port reveals itself as a deliciously balanced, fragrant wine, dark, lush, nutty, with hints of dried fruit, leading to a long finish. You'll want to linger over this one, maybe while studying Opening Day lineups or cricket results. The 20 Year falls into the $45 to $55 range.

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