The Tradition of gifting a bottle of Port - one of the oldest Military Traditions

The tradition of gifting a bottle of port to military officers is said to have originated in the 18th century when the British Army was fighting in Portugal. It was customary for the British officers to visit local wineries and taste the local port wines. The officers were so impressed with the quality of the wine that they began to order cases of port to be sent back to England.

In return, the Portuguese winemakers would gift a bottle of port to the British officers as a gesture of goodwill and appreciation for their business. This tradition of gifting port to military officers continued even after the war was over and became a symbol of friendship and camaraderie between the two nations.

The connection between port and the military goes beyond this tradition of gifting. Port was a popular drink among the British military officers and was often served at formal dinners and events. It was also believed to have medicinal properties and was used to treat various ailments such as dysentery and fever.

During World War I, the British Army was supplied with large quantities of port to help boost the morale of the troops. The soldiers would be given a small amount of port each day as part of their rations, which was seen as a luxury and helped to improve their spirits.

Today, the tradition of gifting a bottle of port to military officers continues in some countries, particularly in Portugal where it is seen as a symbol of hospitality and goodwill. Port remains a popular drink among military personnel, particularly in the British Army, where it is often served at formal occasions such as mess dinners and is seen as a symbol of tradition and heritage.

Here are some references to support the information provided:

  • "The Story of Port Wine" by Cyril Ray (1973)
  • "Port: The Story of the World's Greatest Fortified Wine" by David Bird (2013)
  • "The History of Port Wine" by Quinta do Noval (2021)
  • "The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean: Vol. II" by Michael Simpson (2012)
  • "The British Army of the Rhine: Turning Nazi Enemies into Cold War Partners" by Mark Connolly (2016)
  • "Port and the Douro" by Richard Mayson (2013)
  • "The History of Wine in 100 Bottles" by Oz Clarke (2015)

These sources provide a detailed account of the history of port and its connection to the military, including the tradition of gifting port to officers and its use in the British Army during World War I.