I’m acquisitive, sure, but no hoarder. It’s time to reduce the stock. The inventory made me think, naturally, of grabbing a wedge of Stilton cheese, port’s classic postpriandal sidekick.
Contributor John Postgate was Professor of Microbiology at the University of Sussex. His essay "Two Aperitifs" deals with concocting compounded drinks on a base of cheap British port. That’s the essay that popped into my mind as I mulled our port situation. Fresh out of cheap British port, I’m considering using his recipe for Corsican Aperitif, but deploying some of our stash of proper port — which he warns works less well. Hmm. We’ll see if Professor Postgate and I have similar tastes.
The recipe was developed with his father as the two of them sought to create something akin to French aperitifs such as Dubonnet, Byrrh, and Cap Corse. Postgate’s notes are included in brackets.
Corsican AperitifPostgate goes on to offer Solace, “a good cheap aperitif” that “goes down well for elevenses with cake.” It is nothing more than a bottle of (again, cheap British) white port flavored with a swath of orange peel (sans pith) and decanted after two days. Postgate warns not to use orange essence which would make the aperitif “surprisingly nasty.”
Take 1 bottle of British Ruby or Tawny Port wine, sometimes marketed ‘of Port character’ . Add 2 to 4 drops of quinine bitters . Insert a vanilla pod  and leave to steep in the bottle at room temperature for at least 3 weeks . Decant from the pod (which can be re-used) and serve with ice, with a slice of lemon, or straight.
 Gratifyingly, the cheaper the British wine, the better. Real port and Cyprus port-type work less well.
 A thimble of Campari, not available at the time of our researches, is ideal.
 Nonsense, Use 2-3 drops of vanilla essence and skip the decanting. My parent was rather against essences.
 Chemists will find this difficult to believe, but 3 weeks at domestic room temperature transformed it from vanilla-flavoured port into a drink with its own character. I’ve kept it for six months longer without further improvement.
Well worth tracking down:
- Kurti, Nicholas and Giana (ed) (1988) But the Crackling Is Superb: An Anthology on Food and Drink by Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society. Adam Hilger, Philadelphia.