A little while back, I headed to Porto to find out more about the wine from the region, as part of the Discover The Origin campaign; we all know I am not exactly a connoisseur of the subject, but I thought it would be interesting for someone like me, who is from a typically younger generation, than who would usually be involved in such an experience and see what I generally make of it all, here’s the first part to my visual diary!
Our TAP Portugal flight landed around 2pm, we headed straight to Hotel Teatro, (which quite literally used to be a Theatre) checked in and were on our way to the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto, in a nut shell, it’s the place where they decide what actually passes as Port wine, they discuss matters of trade and such.
We arrived and immediately were given a tour of their labs; they keep all the bottles they receive covered, so when tasting and testing on the wines the team remain completely unaware of where they are coming from and in turn, unbiased.
The guys there seemed super passionate, so I can assure you, the future of Port Wine is in pretty safe hands..in case you wanted to know.
Later on in the day we headed to Graham’s, a Port Cellar who originated from Scotland. The main lobby area was museum like, with glass cased artefacts and information written across the walls, it told you all you needed to know about how Graham’s became who they are today.
This was my first introduction to the wine, not just port, but wine in general, so I see it as my duty to full you in on “Port Basics”.
White Port: Made from white grapes, this gold-coloured wine can be off-dry or sweet. Served with tonic and ice, white Port can be a bracing warm-weather apéritif.
Ruby Port: This young, non-vintage style is aged in wood for about three years before release. Fruity, simple, and inexpensive, it’s the best-selling type of Port. If labeled Reserve or Special Reserve, the wine has usually aged about six years and costs a few more pounds.
Vintage Character Port: Vintage Character Port is actually premium ruby blended from higher-quality wines of several vintages and matured in wood for about five years. Full-bodied, rich, and ready-to-drink when released, these wines are a good value.
Tawny Port: Tawny is the most versatile Port style. The best tawnies are good-quality wines that fade to a pale garnet or brownish red color during long wood aging. Personally I find Tawny Ports great as a dessert wine.
Colheita Port: Often confused with Vintage Port because it’s vintage-dated, colheita is actually a tawny from a single vintage. In other words, it has aged (and softened and tawnied) in wood for many years. Unlike an aged tawny, though, it’s the wine of a single year.
Late Bottled Vintage Port (LBV): This type is from a specific vintage, but usually not from a very top year. The wine ages four to six years in wood before bottling and is then ready to drink, unlike Vintage Port.
Vintage Port: The pinnacle of Port production, Vintage Port is the wine of a single year blended from several of a house’s best vineyards. It’s bottled at about two years of age, before the wine has much chance to shed its tough tannins. It therefore requires an enormous amount of bottle aging to accomplish the development that didn’t occur in wood. Vintage Port is usually not mature (ready to drink) until about 20 years after the vintage.**
Seriously, that’s about all you need to know right now in order to get the right port for the right occasion. So continuing with my day..
At Grahams, we explored their pretty extensive collection of wine, a few I saw dated back to 1868, how crazy is that? Kinda makes you wonder if you would be able to tell the difference between something so old and full bodied against something new and potentially cheap from your local super market, anyway, before dinner we tried a few different Ports including a vintage and Tawny, I’m pointing these out because they were my favourites. I guess it was how smooth they went down and their sweetness that I preferred. My palette is far from ‘Sophisticated’ enough to appreciate wines that are slightly bitter or that are dry.
Finally after the tour, we headed to another part of the building which housed a restaurant called Vinum. I was told that there were a few main dishes that were typically Portuguese, such as slow cooked lamb, anything Cod related and Alheira, sausage that could contain all kinds of yummy things from bread to other kinds of meat to cheese. We tried the latter two that night but were promised that this trip would definitely see us trying everything on multiple occasions *spoiler alert* we totally did!
After what felt like a long day, we headed back to the hotel where I planned on crashing as I knew the next day was going to be pretty busy, instead I stayed up all night catching up on Pretty Little Liars, yeah..
Anyway, stay tuned for part two!
** Details on wine, referenced form here