A Lover in Every Port

“A holiday like Valentine’s is all about things soft and luscious,” says Paul Mugnier, National Sales Manager for Graham’s, in what has got to be one of the best build-ups for a wine ever. “And that is what Six Grapes is all about. It’s the perfect embodiment of Valentine’s Day.”

The “Six Grapes” Mugnier praises is Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port, a type of wine instantly recognizable in that it is particularly sweet. Produced only in the Douro Valley in Portugal – where Graham’s, part of the legendary Symington’s family of port producers, is located – port is a “fortified wine.” Halfway through the fermentation process, a brandy is added, kicking up the alcohol content (Six Grapes is 20 percent ABV) to the point the yeast doing all the magic is killed off. The remaining sugar comes through in an unmistakable sweetness that makes port a favorite dessert wine, perfectly paired with cheeses and confections but most of all the Valentine’s stalwart that is chocolate.

“There’s nothing like a wonderful piece of dark chocolate, with all that slightly bitter quality, that tastes magnificent with the fruity, soft, velvety quality you get out of Six Grapes,” says Mugnier. Artisanal chocolates like Vosges, Scharffen Berger and Recchiutti are strong recommendations. Chocolate and Six Grapes complement each other exquisitely, combining fruitiness and earthiness, creamy textures and nutty undertones. A meeting of the ages, indeed.

With seductive aromas of plum and black cherry, Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port is imbued with silky tannins and a voluptuous mouthfeel that very nicely blur the line between “accidental flirtation” and “rolling around in the back seat of the car.” Enjoy the vintage at room temperature, in a full, open-mouthed glass (not the supposedly “traditional” pony glass) to enjoy not only the bouquet but also the black-red hue that, all by itself, blows even the most suggestive Valentine’s Day card right out of the water.

Take that, Hallmark.

The Eye-Opener


It’s a known fact that no one, not even famously energetic early-riser Ben Franklin or history’s most prolific artist/scientist/bearded-robe-wearer Leonardo da Vinci bounds excitedly from bed every single morning. Some days, the optics can’t completely focus no matter how much rubbing or how many carrots. Some days, it’s almost too hard to even see the end of the bed, much less provide the motor to drive out of it. Especially those days when the day before lasted way, way into the night (or the next AM). On these lurching days, I propose ordering out for an Eye-Opener. I’m not guaranteeing you’ll leap up and invent a flying car, or even guaranteeing leaving the bed, no matter if you’re in the most entertaining city in the world. But you’ll go back to sleep happy.


Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounce dark rum

1/2 ounce Pernod

1/2 ounce crème de noyaux

1/2 ounce orange curaçao

1 egg yolk, preferably


1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add

the rum, Pernod, crème de noyaux, orange curaçao, and egg yolk. Shake well (even if eyes are closed), until the shaker gets icy.


2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass or coffee mug.


A Note: If you like breakfasts sweet, add 1/2-ounce simple syrup, and don’t let anyone give grief.


A Note: Crème de noyaux is a pink-tinged, sweet, almond-tasting liqueur made from French fruit pits (“noyaux” being French for “fruit pits.” It tastes better than it sounds.)


Note: As this recipe uses a raw egg, please do not serve it to the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system.


—A.J. Rathbun










A.J. Rathbun is the author of Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served with a Twist (Harvard Common Press, 2007) and other books. The above recipe is excerpted from Good Spirits.