The first time I had a white port was when I lived in Paris many moons ago. It was served to me as an aperitif. I appreciated the crisp, dry profile of the white port and would always order it as an apéro when I spotted it on Manhattan wine lists.
It had been ages since I’d had a white port until I recently sat in, with Johnny and Caroline Graham, owners of Churchill’s port, on a port-pairing dinner — a first for me. Even Caroline confessed it was a rare experience for her, and she drinks port every night! But it was also my first time tasting a white port that was amber in shade and full of nutty qualities. The Churchill’s White Port ($18.99) is sherry-like and made with 100% Malvasia Fina grapes aged for 10 years in wood, setting it apart in style from traditional white ports.
We started the meal with the chilled white port as an aperitif, but it turned out to be my favorite pairing with most of the menu. My server came by several times to clear away my mountains of glasses, and he kept taking my white port away. Finally, I asked if he would pour me a new glass and leave it there till the very end of the meal. Personally, I liked it best with my gnocchi with wild mushrooms. And I kept telling Johnny I was looking forward to the cheese course. Paired with the Boerenkaas from Netherlands, a two-year-old Gouda, alongside almonds, it summed up my initial hunch that this nutty Churchill’s white port is one versatile little gem.