Wine & Liqueurs

    An old expression says that there aren't bad Portuguese wines and that's probably true.
    If you feel you can trust the restaurant where you're eating forget the Wine List and ask the “Vinho da Casa” (Wine of the house). Normally is a good and versatile wine at an excellent price. While choosing your wine, from the menu, you may see this word D.O.C. quite often. It means “Denomination of Controlled Origin” and means that that wine was produced within a specific and demarcated region, which normally ensures a good quality.
    Another name that may often appear is “Adega Cooperativa de...”. This is a wine produced with grapes from different small producers from a same area, who produced their wine together to achieve a market dimension. Normally are easy and affordable wines.
    Red Wine – goes mostly with red meat; traditional cuisine, pasta and codfish.
    White Wine – goes mostly with fish, except sardines and codfish.
    Green Wine – goes mostly with grilled fish and white meat (like roasted chicken).
    Green wine is produced exclusively in Minho region (you may see it in this tour) and is called “green” because it's produced before the grapes are done. Has a pale green colour, is very light and naturally gasified. Should be served fresh and matches perfectly summer meals, specially grilled fish like sardines. Don't let it trick you: though you may drink for a while without feeling anything, it's when you get out of the table that you'll feel dizzy.
    Sangria – made of wine, soda, sugar, cinnamon, and fruits cut into cubes, both Portugal and Spain claim it's invention. Is drunk mostly during the summer, going with a meal or during a night out.

    Digestive

    Port Wine: produced in the Douro valley, is perhaps the most famous Portuguese product. Read full description bellow. Taste it during this tour.

    Other Portuguese liqueurs
    Ginginha: is perhaps the most popular liqueur. Made of sour cherries, sugar firing water and cinnamon, in Óbidos  is drunk in a chocolate cup
(taste it during this tour). In Lisbon, close to Rossio square, you can be the best Ginjinha in town. If the guy asks you if you want it served with the girls or without the girls, don't take him wrong: he means “with the cherries or without the cherries”.
    Moscatel: moscato, can be produced both in Setúbal (taste it during this tour) and in Douro region, with white grapes. Since it's very sweet, when fresh is excellent as an apéritif, but if warm (room temperature) goes better as a digestive.
    Licor Beirão: is a traditional liqueur produced in the North-interior of the country. Has a sweet and rich flavour that comes from the distillation of 12 different plants. Was seen as an old man's liqueur until an intense marketing campaign made it very popular among young adults. 
     Madeira wine: started to be produced short after the discovery of the island but had such a bad taste that it was used in ballast during the discoveries. Accidently they found that this wine becomes extremely good after passing the high temperatures of the Equador and Brazil. Nowadays it ages inside greenhouses. Can be dry, medium or sweet.

    Port Wine:
(Taste it during this tour)  Is produced in the Douro valley, an isolated and harsh land which soil is made of schist. This is a very hard stone to work with, but absorbs the hot temperatures during the day, and reflects them to the grapes during the night, creating this sweet wine. Being a hilly valley, the only way to plant something there was to cut the mountain into slopes with the available instruments: man force. It was such a hard – and beautiful – work that Unesco declared this area as world heritage, as a tribute to these people.

     There are several different types of Port wine. The most important are:

     Tawny – is the most popular and ages in oak barrels. Is a good digestive option, also to accompany a home backed cake. Having a slice of home backed cake and a glass of Port was/is something very normal after Sunday long lunches. Lasts for long after the bottle is opened.

     Old tawnies - 10, 20 or 30 years old Tawnies contain blends of different wines with different years, with an average of 10, 20 or 30 years.

     Ruby – is the basic red Port and made of a blend of different harvests. Normally ages for 3 years in wooden barrels before is released to the market. Should be drunk short after the bottle is opened. Once the bottle is opened drink it quickly. 

    White Port – is probably the first time you're hearing about it, but once you try it, you'll fall in love with it's velvet, subtile and sweet flavour. If fresh is drunk as an apéritif, if in room temperature, goes with deserts. Can be sweet (lágrima) or dry, depending on the style of the house. Is a good option to take home with you as it's something traditional but new and you'll hardly find it in your country.

     Lattle Bottled Vintage: comes from a single harvest (from the year mentioned in the label) and ages from 4 to 6 years in wooden barrels before being bottled. There are two types: filtered – doesn't get better aging home but can be easily drunk; unfiltered – may age home but needs to be decanted.

    Vintage:

    Single Quinta: Vintage produced from one single Quinta, during bad market years. Normally is an excellent one at an excellent price.

    Vintage: is the king of the Port wines and the most appreciated. Is produced with grapes from the same year and needs to meet specific requirements to be tasted by the Port Wine Institute. Only this Institute can declare it Vintage or not. Ages for 6 years in wooden barrels until is bottled and released to the market but you should wait 20 or 30 years to drink it at its best. In expensive cellars you may find old vintages, which pay off (to the house) more by the status than for the price itself.