Spirits of The Season

To paraphrase the words that open Little Women: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without something sweet. Which is why this is the perfect time to explore Texas’ small but admirable roster of homegrown ports. In lieu of dessert, have a glass or two along with a strong, salty cheese (like a blue), some pecans, almonds, and dried fruit, or gingersnaps dabbed with chutney. Here are some to sample: Pleasant Hill Winery’s nutty Tawny Rosso Forte and its ruby port, Rosso Forte (both available at the winery); La Buena Vida Vineyards’ Walnut Creek Cellars 1998 vintage port, a rich, raisiny ruby (available at the winery); Llano Estacado Winery’s tawny-style Cellar Select Port (widely available); Messina Hof Winery’s Papa Paulo ruby port, with a flavor that has been compared to chocolate-covered cherries, and the winery’s amaretto-like tawny port (both widely available); and Val Verde Winery’s butterscotch-scented Don Luis Texas Tawny Port (available at the winery). If you don’t have a holiday twinkle in your eye already, you will soon. PATRICIA SHARPE