Christmas is always a sweet festival for me. In Western countries, it is more than just a couple festival, but a family gathering. In the UK, Port has long been associated with this lovely sweet festival, though it is made in Portugal.
Since the 18th century, Port has become a very popular alcohol beverage in England as the people were boycotting the French wines during wars. There were two stories regarding the rise of Port.
Red wines from elsewhere did not survive the long journey to England. The first stories said that Port was invented accidentally by two brothers adding grape brandy into the wine for the purpose of preservation. Together with the low custom duty policy (Methuen Treaty), the Port was generally accepted to be a great substitute of French wine, even though the taste is totally different. People were more sweet-tooth by then.
Two English gentle men went to Douro to learn business and was treated this sweet beverage. They liked it a lot. They bought the whole lot and shipped back to England. English businessmen started to invest in the Douro area and so Port was spread in England.
Whether the stories are as accurate as Port wine making, there is also a fun tradition of drinking Port. Usually drink after dinner family, whether or not, around the fireplace (not very possible in HK though :P), people pass the bottle or decanter (for Vintage Port) without putting it on the table. If somebody puts the bottle down and not passing, others shall ask the question “do you know the Bishop or Norwich?” as a reminder to pass the Port. Now sure who this Bishop of Norwich was, but certainly we can make a twist and turn it into a game!
Other than history and traditions, Port is also cheese and dessert friendly! The British, generally, pairs the Port with Blue Stilton cheese, a blue cheese made by cow milk cheese in England. If Blue cheese is not your choice, you might try the saltier cheese like Parmesan or aged Cheddar. Of course, dessert with dried fruits like Panettone or other Christmas bread goes very well with Port too!
Merry Port Christmas!