Fifth Columnists are at work along the banks of the Douro:

In the last century Symington Family Estates exported port to around 20 countries. Now, it’s selling in more than 80. The new destinations include cash-rich emerging markets where the producers are coaxing Brazilians, Russians, Chinese and Angolans to put port on their table.

The signs are promising. Port wine sales to Brazil rose more than 31 percent in the first half of this year, to €2.4 million, making it a Top 10 importer. It’s not enough to take up the slack, though.

Producers are also pushing port in gimmicky new cocktails, such as white port with tonic water, a twist of lemon and ice, that might appeal to a younger crowd. It’s a novelty the trade’s forebears might have found sacrilegious.

Symington, though, says it’s an inevitable development. Porto has long banked on its prestige and aristocratic conventions, such as always passing the port to the left at formal dinner parties, but now it needs to shed its stuffy image, he says.

“We have to de-formalize port,” said Symington.

Bah!  Smithers? Release the hounds……

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