Monday, September 13, 2021

Adult Beverages in Sherlock Holmes Canon & Premium Tobacco Pairings Vol. 1 Port Wine

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Adult Beverages in Sherlock Holmes Canon & Premium Tobacco Pairings Vol. 1 Port

For this and the next two Mondays, I'll be taking a brief look at alcoholic beverages that appear in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Each installment will include a bit of Sherlockian context, an overview of the booze, and finally, a recommendation as to premium tobacco (cigars & pipes) pairings. We begin here with Port Wine, next is Whisky & Soda, and lastly, Brandy. There is your orientation; here is your content...


Let's begin at the chronological beginning--the earliest case mentioned in Sherlockian canon. That is in The Gloria Scott [GLOR] which was collected into The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) after first appearing in The Strand & Harper's Weekly (1893). Being as it does hearken back to the start, a good bit of biographical exposition is shared from Holmes to Watson, via a lengthy dialog which reads in small chunk thereof (& pertaining to our Port topic)--“One evening, shortly after my arrival, we were sitting over a glass of port after dinner, when young Trevor began to talk about those habits of observation and inference which I had already formed into a system, although I had not yet appreciated the part which they were to play in my life. The old man evidently thought that his son was exaggerating in his description of one or two trivial feats which I had performed."

Also, Port gets name-checked in (The) Sign Of The Four [SIGN] (1890). There, in Chapter 10 of that second Arthur Conan Doyle Holmesian novel; Sherlock, Watson, & Athelney Jones, the hapless detective from Scotland Yard are finishing up their pre-heroics dinner (replete w/ overt Holmes bon vivant display). They are soon to be off to the tower opposite Jacobson's Yard, when it's written "When the cloth was cleared, Holmes glanced at his watch, and filled up three glasses with port. One bumper," said he, "to the success of our little expedition. And now it is high time we were off. Have you a pistol, Watson?"" One for the road. A bit of liquid courage to steady the nerves.

In The Abbey Grange [ABBE], published within The Return of Sherlock Holmes collection (1905) & prior to that by a year in both The Strand & Collier's, again Port is mentioned--only sorta--but also not really at all. There, it isn't mentioned when a clue caught by Holmes is a difference in the amount of translucent crusty deposits in the three glasses at the scene of the crime. Canonically, however, this is a wine mention only. It's somewhat notable though because 'beeswing' is oft found in Port--or old bottles of wine. The stage is set: "The three glasses were grouped together, all of them tinged with wine, and one of them containing some dregs of bees-wing. The bottle stood near them, two-thirds full, and beside it lay a long, deeply-stained cork. Its appearance and the dust upon the bottle showed that it was no common vintage which the murderers had enjoyed." So old wine it is. But I did drop a scant further bit of Port info. yw

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"Port is a sweet, red, fortified wine from Portugal. Port wine is most commonly enjoyed as a dessert wine because [sic] its richness. There are several styles of Port, including red, white, rosé, and an aged style called Tawny Port." That ::: very ::: brief overview comes from Wine Folly. To make matters even briefer still, I am speaking here of the Red (Ruby) varietal in terms of upcoming cigar & pipe tobacco pairing recommendations. Perhaps I should have mentioned that sooner, or perhaps I did-so right on time. Maybe I could have waited a tick longer. We'll have to let the historians debate that generations from now. Nevertheless...

Indigenous Portuguese grapes are perhaps the most important aspect of a true Port. Varietals of such include: Tinta Roriz (the famed Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao, Tinta Barroca, and almost 50 others I won't name here because I cannot. The aforementioned will be on the exam at the end of this write-up, however. Tasting notes of these grapes typically include: cinnamon, vanilla, berries. It is a drink high in tannins but still, as stated, quite sweet. It's full & rich. Port wine is made fortified by adding a distilled grape spirit (almost always Brandy) to the mix. This stops fermentation and 'fortifies' the beverage against damages during long shipping (as its original intent). Finally, only wines manufactured in Portugal's Douro Valley can bear the label of (O)Port to European markets. 


Extra medium. It's not just my T-shirt size, but also the profile of premium tobacco which would accompany well, a nice glass of Port. Robust leaf, yes--but refrained and neither domineering nor dominating. Sweet but not overly-so. More spicy-sweet, earthen. Perhaps a bit staunch of build but not rigid per se. Smoky but not coarse. A decent San Andres wrapper over perhaps some Honduran guts. Pipe smokers too can experience these wonders, especially with Latakia-heavy English blends. In the last word regarding Port, this in re cigars in particular--Port was long (& should still be but sadly isn't) considered the can't miss pairing. The coffee of an alcoholic evening nightcap. I have done my part in tryna bring that back. Maybe you Gentlepersons could chip in? Whoever you tell will thank you. 

Think along the lines of these offerings linked below:



Seattle Pipe Club Plum Pudding Pipe Tobacco in Review


Being as this is the 1/3 of this series, perhaps I might interest you in (re?)reading the first series of this (overall) series--that one on card games. You may find it HERE. Also there, you'll find plans for the future of this (overall) series.