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What is the biggest challenge in the industry at the moment?

It's difficult to name the single biggest challenge - as port producers currently face numerous - from adapting to climate change, to ensuring a new generation learns the skills to keep the crafts alive, and the high costs of  production not being reflecting in the price of the wine. Perhaps the most urgent is the environmental challenge. With erratic rainfall, more intense summer heatwaves, and soil erosion, port producers are having to adapt to new conditions that mean it's increasingly challenging to produce wine in the Douro.

What is the biggest challenge in selling port internationally?

Perhaps the biggest challenge, especially when selling in new, developing markets is education. There are several families of ports with many categories, and this may be quite confusing to newcomers to port. Furthermore, port is a fortified wine, but many may perceive it as more of a liquor (because of its rich, sweet taste and higher alcohol content than a dry wine). We have to show people that it is first and foremost a very fine wine. In the fast-paced world, fashions change all the time and there are many alcoholic beverages on offer, many competing with port. Port has to find its niche and appeal to new generations of drinkers (who sometimes regard it as old-fashioned). It's about making port relevant to people's everyday lives, showing them what an informal drink it can be (no better wine that to unwind after a ling tiring day...). 

What is the market's best selling style?

In absolute volume terms, the entry-level Ruby and Tawny (three-year-old ports) are the most widely sold. But this doesn't give an accurate picture of port's consumption trends. Increasingly, consumers are enjoying premium ports such as the Reserve Ruby and Reserve Tawny as well as the LBVs, which in leading markets such as the UK are best-sellers. This is hardly surprising as these wines are very fairly priced, especially when you consider how much quality they deliver at the price point. In some countries, such as the USA, aged tawny ports have also grown in popularity over the last couple of decades or so. These are incredibly versatile and equally enjoyable served as aperitifs or after meals, on their own or with dessert/cheese — all year round.  

School of Port is an educational initiative from Symington Family Estates, premium port producers in the Douro for five generations since 1882.

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