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SHOUT INSIDER PROFILE
One of the experts who took to the Wine AKL podium during
the recent Auckland Restaurant Month, Jorge Nunes followed
five generations of his family down the winemaking path. While
studying, he worked in wineries across Portugal and in the Napa
Valley, California and now works for Symington Family Estates
portfolio of wines across Asia and the Pacific. At Wine AKL Jorge
hosted several sessions to discuss the philosophy and process
behind aged tawny port, how to match it and introduce it to a
whole new generation of drinkers. He has spent nearly ten years
making, promoting and selling port, and his passion is infectious.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?
I am the Marketing Manager for Symington Family Estates
portfolio of wines across Asia and the Pacific, and do a lot of wine
education too. The port category needs a lot of help in that area,
showing people how to drink it, when to drink it - and with what to
IT FEELS LIKE PORT HAS NEEDED THAT EXTRA PUSH, THAT
EXTRA EDUCATION FOR SOME TIME NOW, WHY WOULD YOU
SAY THAT IS?
It’s crazy, port has been around for over four hundred years and
the industry hasn’t really changed that much over that time.
There has been some creativity and development in terms of
styles and approach to the wines themselves. There has also
been innovation in packaging and trying to make it more attractive
to the consumer, but when it comes to the core of what port is
nothing has changed much at all and that’s hard.
Your Shout •
Jorge Nunes of
Symington Family Estates
– travelling port connoisseur
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST HURDLE FOR PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE
INTRODUCED TO PORT?
Definitely the ‘when’ factor. They say ‘I’ve had a white wine, I’ve
had a red wine, when do I have port after that?’ They are unsure
of when the correct time of day is to drink port – the afternoon
or as an after dinner drink? They worry that people will think
they are an alcoholic if they drink port at five o’clock in the
IS IT A TOUGH ASK TO GET THE WORD OUT THERE DAY IN,
I think it’s a problem that a few beverages have, but that doesn’t
mean you should stop. It’s all about education, demystification
and changing mentalities, giving people the confidence to trust
themselves when it comes to the choices they make.
WHEN IS YOUR IDEAL TIME TO DRINK PORT?
The moment that I like to communicate to people isn’t a time of
day but rather what I like to call the “relaxation moment”. Like
champagne is associated with a celebratory moment and could
be called the “celebration wine”, for me port is the “relaxation
wine”. Think about maybe a hot, summery Christmas Day in New
Zealand – sometime after lunch would be the perfect time to
enjoy a chilled glass of port.
DID YOU SAY A CHILLED GLASS?
Totally, perhaps a smooth, ten or twenty-year-old port perfectly
chilled and enjoyed in the afternoon. Another relaxation moment
is when you’ve finished dinner and are enjoying just being at your
table rather than hitting the bar – that is the perfect time to order
a port. You don’t even have to pair it with anything, just sip it at
WHAT ARE THE PREMIUM FOOD MATCHES WITH
It is amazing how many times I get asked the question: “can I
pair port with food?” I always say, “of course you can!” You can
put a ten year old with foie gras instead of a late harvest, or pair
venison or beef accompanied by a sweet sauce with a full-bodied
ruby port. Dark chocolate desserts and brownies go really well
with a ruby port too, it’s a classic pairing and it really works. And
another great rule is: the stronger the cheese, the stronger the
port you should be pairing it with.
WHAT ELSE MIGHT I NOT KNOW ABOUT PORT?
Well definitely that it sees the world going two ways. The French
drink port before dinner and the rest of the world after dinner.
DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF PORT,
OF GETTING IT WRONG?
Absolutely, but that doesn’t just go for port, it goes for all wine.
We still have a long way to go in making wine accessible and easy
to understand. It’s a shame because wine should be such a simple
pleasure. We have over complicated it over the years and the port
industry is just as much to blame as it’s not the easiest drink to
understand as a category.
WHAT IS KEY TO CHANGING THAT?
I think the experience has to be looked at to begin with. I know a
lot of consumers who have had not the greatest experience with
port, and I’ll tell you why. A lot of restaurants when asked for port
will take a dusty bottle from the back of a shelf and pour you a
little chalice full of a product that just isn’t that great. We need to
go back to the basics and say: forget about bamboozling people
with age and history, just select a beautiful white wine glass and
pour a beautiful, chilled port. Make people excited about port, and
things will start to change.
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