Looking for the best white port to buy? Want to know more about white port? Read our expert guide then check out our guide to port and fortified wine, and our round-ups of the best supermarket port and best appassimento wines to buy.


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What is white port?

One of my favourite drinks for summer is white port and tonic. Portônica, as it’s known, is the go-to aperitif in the city of Porto that sits at the end of the Douro Valley where port is made.

White port is a fortified wine, made in the same way as its red counterpart by adding brandy to halt the fermentation of wine, leaving residual sugars which give sweetness to the finished drink. The earlier in the fermentation process the brandy is added, the sweeter the port will be.

Most white ports are made quite dry and are intended to be drunk young as an aperitif, either by itself over ice or, more commonly, as a portônica garnished with a lemon slice, a sprig of mint or even a stick of cinnamon to bring out its gentle spicy notes. Use about 100ml port to 150ml tonic with plenty of ice either in a high-ball or in a more modish balloon-shaped glass.

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But white port is good for so much more. Its closest cousin in a cocktail cupboard is dry vermouth and, while it lacks vermouth's characteristic bitterness, white port can happily be used as a substitute in so many cocktails. It makes a killer martini (the less port you use, the drier the martini will be: I favour about one part port to five parts gin or vodka), or mix it with equal parts of gin and Campari for a riff on a negroni called a cardinale.

Sweeter styles of white port tend to be aged in oak casks to give extra richness and depth, the sweetest of which are known as lágrima, meaning ‘tear’, because the high sugar content in the wine creates tear-shaped droplets when it’s swirled in a glass. These are best as an alternative to red ports after dinner as an accompaniment to cheese, or as a tea-time treat with a piece of cake.

Because white port is not better known in this country, it means prices are kept low, so they offer great value for money. Once open, dry white port will keep for about two weeks in a fridge, while sweet styles will last for a couple of months or more (in the unlikely event they'll need to).

Best white port at a glance

  • Best fruity white port: Kopke 10-Year-Old White Port, £39.95
  • Best for a port and tonic: Graham’s Blend No5 White Port, £25.74
  • Best modern white port: Cockburn’s White Heights, £23.25
  • Best versatile white port: Quinta da Pedra Alta No 3, £17.42
  • Best aged white port: Churchill’s Dry White Port, £24.50
  • Best classic white port: Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port, £15.99
  • Best white port with food: Fonseca Siroco, £21.95
  • Best sweet white port: Kopke Colheita port, £44.50

Best white port to buy 2023

Kopke 10-year-old white port

Kopke white port 10 year old

Best fruity white port

Luscious with baked apple, candied orange peel, toasted nut and caramel notes, this would be wonderful with pudding or cheese.

Available from:
The Whisky Exchange (£35.75)
Amazon (£39.95)
Waitrose Cellar (£37.99)

Graham’s Blend No 5 white port

Copy of High Res PR images portrait - Graham's

Best for a port and tonic

This fresh, contemporary white port is brimming with fragrant fruit and floral aromas, particularly lime, peach and orange blossom. A perfect partner with tonic water, garnished with a grapefruit wedge.

Available from:
Master of Malt (£25.74)
Waitrose Cellar (£27.99)
John Lewis (£27.49)

Cockburn’s White Heights

Cockburns port

Best modern white port

White Heights is part of a newish range by Cockburn’s called Tales of the Unexpected. With modern, snappy branding, it’s designed to shake up what can be viewed as a very classic, traditional drinks category, and attract the next generation of port lovers. With lovely acidity and tropical fruit notes, White Heights is another cracking choice for a port and tonic.

Available from:
Amazon (£31.22)
The Whisky Exchange (£23.25)

Quinta da Pedra Alta No 3

A bottle of Quinta da Pedra Alta No 3 white port

Best versatile white port

Made from a blend of native grapes grown in some of the Douro Valley’s highest vineyards, this is fresh and vibrant with a slight tropical-fruit sweetness that makes it versatile. It can be served any which way, but is very good in a cardinale.

Available from:
Master of Malt (£17.42)

Churchill’s Dry White Port

A bottle of dry white port

Best aged white port

Gold medal winner in the recent International Wine Challenge awards, this is aged for 10 years in old oak barrels before bottling. Rounded and complex with gentle spice, it goes surprisingly well with smoked salmon.

Available from:
Spiritly (£24.50)

Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port

A bottle of Taylor’s Chip Dry white port

Best classic white port

The original white port, first made in 1934, this is extra-dry, crisp and herbaceous. It makes a fine portônica garnished with a slice of orange, or in a dry martini with green olives alongside.

Available from:
Waitrose Cellar (£15.99)

Fonseca Siroco

A bottle of Fonseca white port

Best white port with food

Dry in style but given a nutty depth by blending single-varietal wines that have been aged in barrels for three years. Great with tonic or by itself over ice with salted almonds and/or a hard sheep’s cheese to nibble on.

Available from:
Amazon (£21.95)

Kopke Colheita 2003

A bottle of Kopke Colheita white port

Best lágrima style port

A wonderful example of the lágrima style, sweet and luscious with layers of dried apricots, toffee and toasted nuts. Fantastic with blue cheese, or with our peach cake with thyme and lemon.

Available from:
Vivino (£44.50)
Vintage Wine & Port (£59.95)


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Kate HawkingsWine Columnist

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