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Days of Indian Port Wines may be Numbered

Posted: Wednesday, 20 July 2011 15:00

Days of Indian Port Wines may be Numbered

July 20: Goan Port may be a tourist attraction or a cheap alternative for the locals to get sweetly and slowly sozzled, but the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto is not amused and plans a legal action against Indian Ports whose days may be numbered if and when the steps that IVDP, the regulatory body of Port has taken fructify, writes Subhash Arora who was in Porto recently and met officials of IVDP and who supports their case.

Click For Large View
The Real McCoy-at IVDP Shop
Port wine, also known as Vinho do Porto, Porto, or simply Port, is generally a sweet, fortified wine made in Porto and Douro in Portugal strictly according to the regulations formulated in 1756 and under the control of IVDP since its formation in 1932. According to these laws, also accepted by the EU Protected Designation of Origin, only fortified wines produced in the Douro demarcated Region, conforming to the physical-chemical and organoleptical characteristics laid out by the IVDP, can be called Port wine.  Producers registered with the IVDP can only produce or sell Port. Even the labels must be approved by the IVDP and each bottle must bear the seal of guarantee.

Not all countries in the world recognize or protect appellations of origin as an intellectual property right. Port is an appellation of origin recognized and protected in Portugal, EU and in the countries that have signed mutual treaties. The recognition and protection of the appellation of origin Port may also derive from bilateral agreements celebrated by Portugal and EU, as well as from the WTO Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Porto has managed to force South Africa to discontinue the use of the word ‘Port’ by 2012 and most producers have already switched the name to ‘Cape Tawny’. It has been able to sign a deal with Australia too. It has admittedly not being able to convince the US. However IVDP has now joined the international group of regions for protection of regional appellations like Champagne, Sherry and Tokai etc, carving out agreements with local associations like Napa Valley, with reciprocal arrangements to protect each other’ s geographical and territorial rights.

Goan Port- Fraudulent, unethical or illegal?

Port producers and the IVDP are well aware of the ‘Port’ being produced in Goa where fortified wine has been made under the nose of the Portuguese who started the process, for centuries, mostly for consumption within Goa with the emphasis on ‘cheap and sweet’. The credit for producing in an organised way goes to Dr. Francisco Xavier da Costa Azaredo who went to Portugal to study medicine and founded Vinicola in 1972 after his return. He has been making Port since the time when there was no EU. He has been the leader in this industry up till the last couple of years. About 200,000-250,000 cases of such Port are estimated to be produced in Goa and Nashik alone- making it around 25% of the domestic wine production by volume.

But the Portuguese have not been keeping quiet about this production which they consider illegal and fraudulent. Dr. Alberto Ribeiro de Almeida, head of the legal department of IVDP says, ‘we have been taking action against several countries and in fact have successfully stopped South Africa, Australia and Chile. We could not have much success with the US but we decided to go for private arrangements with different regions along with Champagne, Tokaj etc in protecting each other’s territorial interests and the arrangement is working fine.’

With reference to India he added, ‘we filed an application two years ago through the proper international channels to register Porto for protection in India like Champagne did successfully. But we understand it took them 3 years to do the same and now it has stopped the illegal usage in India. We have already taken it up with the European Union and I believe we are making headway. So it is a matter of time when these errant producers ( I reminded him that it may not be termed Fraud as most are  adding ‘Goan’ or ‘Nashik’ as the prefix to port and are not directly hoodwinking people into believing it is Port- the Real McCoy). If it mentions Goan Port it is potentially illegal; only if they mention Port or Vinho do Porto makes it a Fraud on the consumer for which they could file a criminal complaint.

The Indian Port may or may not be fortified, with 19-22% alcohol level although there is a Nashik Port which has 14% alcohol only and is not fortified. Sugar is an important ingredient, as are flavours and colouring materials. There are no standards and no controls. For some inexplicable reasons, a lot of wheat is being used in the Port production; delWine has learnt from reliable sources. These Ports sell for Rs.70- 130 (wherever the taxes are within the logical parameters). Drinkers are even encouraged to put ice or drink them with soda at times if they find them not very palatable when taken ‘neat’.

Gallery of Frauds

All the products featured in this “Gallery” are frauds of the Appellation of Origin Porto. By attempting to have a similar appearance to that usually associated with Port wine bottles, and presented on the shelves next to the genuine article, these products could confuse the customer into erroneously assuming their origin and quality.

Goa however, is not the only ‘Port’ producer in the list of Frauds. UK, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Croatia, Costa Rica, Peru, Moldova, Turkey, France, Brazil and even Portugal find their name in the infamous list of countries producing fraudulent wines. For the complete list of such products, click here.

You may enjoy the cheap Goan or Nashik Port today but if you don’t find the name Port on such bottles in a few years, you need not wonder why. Their days may be numbered!

Subhash Arora



Sameer Seth Says:


Looking for Imported Port Wine in India, please help

Posted @ July 21, 2017 17:45


B.Shankaranarayan Says:

As far as I know Adobe is not a town but a kind of building material made of clay, soil, water and organic fibrous material. Adobe Walls is a ghost town in Texas. Nokia is certainly a brand and a town in Finland and Mont Blanc is a "white mountain" in the alps. Using the examples cited, Portugal has every right to Porto or Oporto since it is where a particular style of wine is made. But not Port since that is not a place in Portugal. By common usage the wine from Porto has been called Port in English. The difficulty lies in the fact that port is also a common noun in English with many meanings. Portugal can certainly claim a right to the words Oporto or Porto Generally common nouns cannot and should be allowed to be copyrighted. One solution is for Oporto/Porto to change its name to Port :)

Posted @ August 01, 2011 14:15


Alberto Ribeiro de Almeida Says:

It is import to underline that Port is an intellectual property right, an appellation of origin, recognized as such in Portugal, in the European Union, in countries that are members of the Lisbon agreement (like Israel, Mexico, Tunisia, Cuba, Moldova, Costa Rica, etc.), of the Madrid agreement for the repression of false or deceptive indications of source (like Brazil, Egypt, Japan, Morocco, Turkey, etc.). Besides, Port is recognized as an appellation of origin or a geographical indication by several other countries according to bilateral agreements (as happened with Canada, Chile, South Africa, Australia, etc.) and also the TRIPS agreement. As happens with trademarks – like Adobe, Nokia, Mont Blanc (all names of places) and several others – what matters is the significance which the public attaches to the mark (connected with a product) – the well known secondary meaning theory. Port identifies, since 1756, a product (wine) that comes from a region (the Douro region) and that has certain characteristics and qualities certified by an independent body (in this case the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto). The relevant public knows that Port means a wine – in fact Port was for several times recognized as the best wine in the world by specialized international magazines.

Posted @ July 26, 2011 12:48


B.Shankaranarayan Says:

Port is a common noun in the Queen's language: 1. A place on a waterway with facilities for loading and unloading ships. 2. An opening/aperture - on a ship, on machinery or on a computer. Nobody can claim a right to a common noun. Oporto or Porto are the two names for Portugal's second largest city. They certainly can get a geographical right like Bordeaux or Scotch for Oporto or Porto, certainly not Port. Indian cos. are registering brands as "Port No.5". All they need to do is describe it as just "wine" and not "port wine". Personally I don't hold any brief for these concoctions originating from Goa and replicated by Indage, Sula and other Maharashtra wineries but let's not get carried away by countries claiming exclusive rights to common English nouns.

Posted @ July 23, 2011 11:47


Irene Almeida Says:

Great article. I knew other countries producing Port were frauds but didn't realize it was so wide spread. I only buy Douro Porto. No substitute for the best!

Posted @ July 21, 2011 16:30


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