Port is thought to be winter’s drink, but Dow, one of the great port houses, offers the delicious 2009 Vale do Bomfim Reserva red wine for summer.

Port is made from grapes that most wine consumers never heard of, and in a region that few have visited. Portugal’s Douro Valley is an hour or two by train (and many more by car) from the city of Oporto. Its rugged hills and steep cliffs support sculptured vineyards that can appear to be hanging on rather precariously.

Touriga national is Portugal’s most important grape for port wine. Quinta do Bomfim is one of Dow’s primary vineyards and the source of the touriga national that composes about 70 percent of the 2009 Vale do Bomfim Reserva red wine. The balance is a mix of traditional port grapes such as tinta roriz, touriga franca and tinta barroca.

The Symington family has been rooted in the port trade since the 17th century, and has owned Dow exclusively since 1961. They made the first Vale do Bomfim red wine in 2004.

Its 2009 Vale do Bomfim Reserva is made by winemakers Charles Symington and Pedro Correia, and they have applied the same skills and standards to this red wine that have made Dow port one of the greatest wines of that genre.

They used the simple technique of fermenting the 2009 Vale do Bomfim Reserva in stainless-steel tanks and aging it in older American oak barrels for one year. This hands-off approach resulted in a brilliant black cherry hue, with pronounced aromas of black fruit, flowers and spice. The palate is treated to its share of Douro grape pleasure, with the flavors of rich black cherry and blackberry and a hint of raspberry.

Port consumers will expect a high level of alcohol, but they will not find it in this red wine. Instead, they’ll taste a wine with balanced tannins, a mild 13.5 percent alcohol and a velvety texture.

The 2009 Vale do Bomfim is a perfect wine for barbecued chicken, steak and pork chops. It will also be a good partner to an antipasto plate of salami, roasted bell peppers and intensely flavored cheese. You’ll also enjoy it with a pasta dish of sweet fennel sausage and tomato over penne or rigatoni.

Making the 2009 Vale do Bomfim Reserva your summer wine will provoke conversation while barbecuing, and satisfy your port wine palate until chilly days and nights return.

The 2009 Vale do Bomfim Reserva retails for approximately $29.