Over the past few months, I've seen bottles of the Marietta California Port (Lot Number Two). For $15 a half bottle (375mL), why not give it a shot? It's just the right size to bring to a party, and it's also a good quantity for those that don't drink a ton of Port. Or those that try to limit the amount of Port in their homes in order to resist temptation. (It's Wednesday evening at nine? Sounds like Port time to me! Norwegian Independence Day? Break out the Port!)
It's a ruby-style domestic Port made from 30% Zinfandel and the rest a blend of Touriga, Souzao, and Tinta Cao. Spice and raisins on the nose, and it's got a light mouthfeel and isn't overly sweet. At 19.5% alcohol it would be an over-the-top Zin but it's a fairly restrained Port. I had it with a little Huntsman cheese as a late night snack.
As a side note, while looking around the Marietta website, I found a little recipe for minestrone that looked good (scroll down to #8). While it's not the kind of thing you'd serve with Port, it was delicious on its own and easy to make. The last time I made minestrone was back in high school, and I made the mistake of adding pasta early on and letting it simmer for two hours. The result? A gluey, unappetizing mass. The Marietta recipe, on the other hand, is fresher tasting and chock full of good vegetables. The Swiss chard really makes the dish. You might think that the cornbread muffins aren't authentic, but don't be so sure--the February 2008 issue of La Cucina Italiana features a recipe for muffin di farina gialla on page 42.