© Edgar Jiménez
White port is a polarizing style of port produced by every major house on the Douro river. The style, often derided by traditionalists, has become increasingly popular as a chilled aperitif and mixing agent in cocktails. Typically inexpensive, white port is almost universally produced to a medium (or higher) sweetness level. Higher residual sugar levels are responsible for the sweetness and alcohol levels tend to be 2–3% lower than red-port styles. The wine receives little or no maceration during fermentation.
Of the 50 or so varieties permitted in a white-port blend, only half are actually white grapes. However, the red grapes that may be used are considered to be of lesser quality than the varieties permitted in the more prestigious vintage port. Barrel ageing is not common for white port, though examples that do see some oak tend to show attractive nutty characteristics that lend themselves to the aperitif style. Generally the wines are not aged for more than 18 months and are typically stored in stainless steel, or cement tanks.
The word lagrima ('tears') is used to denote a particularly viscous, sweet style of white port; lagrima white port is predominantly sold on the domestic market. At the other end of the spectrum is leve seco ('light dry'), which is slightly drier and less common.