Difference between Port and Wine

When ordering wine, one will come across a type of wine known as port wine. This article will help clarify what distinguishes port wine from other wines.


Port wine
Port wine

Port wine is a type of wine that has been fortified with a spirit known as aguardente, which is similar to brandy. Port wine is produced exclusively in Portugal, and specifically in the Douro Valley, in northern Portugal. The wine dates back to at least 1687, but the Douro Valley was first demarcated as port production area in 1756. The addition of aguardente to the wine makes it far sweeter, richer, and higher in alcohol content. Port is often served as a dessert wine, and traditionally near the end of a meal, with cheese or on its own. It is commonly a sweet red wine, but has dry, semi-dry, and white varieties as well. A glass of port wine is pictured above.

Red, white and rosé wines
Red, white and rosé wines (from left to right)

Wine is a beverage made by fermenting fruit, and usually grapes. The fermentation process of the fruit converts sugar into ethanol, which gives wine its alcohol content. Wine is produced all over the world, and has a rich tradition throughout human history. The three most common types of wine are red wine, which is made from the skin and pulp of dark-coloured grapes, white wine, which is made from the skin and pulp of light-coloured grapes, and rosé wine, which is made using only some of the skin of dark-coloured grapes. Red wines are typically dark and opaque in colour, usually violet, burgundy, or brown; white wines are typically a transparent yellow in colour, and rosé wines are red or pink, but mostly translucent. Above, from left to right: red wine; white wine; rosé wine.

Comparison chart

Port wine Wine in general
Produced exclusively in Douro Valley, Portugal. Produced all over the world.
Fortified with brandy. Not typically fortified, though fortified wines exist.
Dates back to 1687. Dates back to 5400 BC.

Port vs Wine

What is the difference between port and wine? Port is a type of wine, so there is not necessarily a difference between them, but the factors that separate port from other types of wine are:

  • Region where the wine is made
  • Fortification of the wine
  • History of the wine

Port wine is made exclusively in the Douro Valley of Portugal, whereas other wines do not necessarily have an exclusive region in which they are made. Portugal does also produce other types of wine, but Port wine is only produced in the Douro Valley, Portugal.

Port wine is fortified with aguardente or brandy, whereas red, white, and rosé wines are not typically fortified. Other fortified wines exist, of course, but are not made in the same way as Port wines.

Port wine dates back to at least 1687, whereas wine in general dates back to 5400 BC.


The video below explains what port wine is: