The bishop of Norwich Port tradition – pass the Port!

Port Wine is surrounded by myths and traditions. There are plenty of them from Port production to Port consumption. One that we can still experience today in terms of Port production is the one that forbade ladies to step into the lagar to tread grapes. Old people say ladies can spoil Port if they tread the grapes. Of course I don’t buy this one!

On the consumption side, there is an interesting tradition that I couldn’t explain until a few months ago. This tradition invokes the Bishop of Norwich when you want to have more Port. So imagine you having dinner in a long table, your Port glass empty and the Port decanter stuck near someone that is falling asleep. Instead of asking for the decanter or for more Port, you would go for a more subtle and polite way, asking that person “Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?” And hopefully he will say “No”, and then you will say “Awfully nice fellow but never passes the Port”. Smart way to avoid offending people and to get the Port moving

Do you know where that tradition is coming from?It dates back to the XIX century, to the Bishop Henry Bathurst. We had the current Bishop of Norwich in person explaining it to us in the video above, recorded in July 2012 at the time of the Olympic Port Wine tasting for the celebration of the 2012 London Olympics.

Do you know other traditions related with Port? Share with us!


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  1. Mary H Goudie Sunday November 4th, 2012 | reply
    How typically English good form. The good old bishop of Norwich saves the convivial day & the after dinner port tradition.

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