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Please pass the Port

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Anyone who has attended a City of London civic or Livery Company banquet will be familiar with the numerous toasts that follow after the meal and before the speeches. These toasts are usually taken with Port wine, or occasionally Madeira.

Quite when port became the wine of choice for toasts is unclear, but the custom is as well entrenched in the City as it is in the ward rooms and messes of HM Armed Forces, at Oxbridge Colleges, Masonic dinners and elsewhere. Port wine was originally, and very specifically, developed for the English palette and nowhere is it more popular than in Britain.

First a little history

The history of Port wine is inextricably linked with Britain's connection to Portugal and the numerous British families who developed the Douro wine region inland from Porto. Today names such as Croft, Churchill, Dow, Graham, Taylor, Sandeman, Symington and Warre are well known brands of port. While much consolidation has occurred in the wine trade, the British representation…