Celebrating International Port Wine Day
On the 27th January each year, wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs from around the world raise their glasses to celebrate International Port Wine Day. This special day honors the rich history, unique flavors, and the enchanting region that birthed Port. Today, we would like to honor this revered Portuguese fortified wine, by sharing a little bit of history and knowledge.
History of Port
The Birth of a Tradition
The history of Port wine is a tapestry woven with the threads of tradition, innovation, and a dash of daring spirit. Originating in the Douro Valley in Portugal, the story dates back to the 17th century when British merchants sought to fortify wine for transportation. By adding a dose of brandy, they inadvertently discovered a method that not only preserved the wine but also created a unique and distinctive taste.
A Royal Affair
The 18th century marked a turning point for Port wine as it gained favor among European royalty. The Marquis of Pombal, a prominent figure in Portuguese history, recognised the potential of this fortified wine and regulated its production in the mid-18th century, laying the foundation for the protected designation of origin that governs Port wine today.
Tradition Meets Innovation
Over the centuries, Port wine production evolved, blending tradition with innovation. From the classic Vintage Ports to the more contemporary styles like Tawny and Ruby Ports, the diversity of flavors and styles continues to captivate wine enthusiasts worldwide. The legacy of Port wine lives on, with each bottle holding a sip of history.
The Region of Porto
A Picturesque Tapestry
Nestled along the banks of the Douro River, the city of Porto and the surrounding Douro Valley create a picturesque backdrop for the birth and aging of Port wine. The terraced vineyards lining the steep hillsides not only provide a stunning panorama but also play a crucial role in the unique terroir that defines the character of Port wine.
UNESCO World Heritage
In recognition of its cultural and historical significance, the Alto Douro Wine Region, including the city of Porto, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. The region’s stunning landscapes, traditional viticulture practices, and historic wine estates contribute to its well-deserved status.
Port Wine Tasting
The Art of Savoring
International Port Wine Day is not merely a celebration but an invitation to indulge in the art of tasting. From the robust and full-bodied Vintage Ports to the nutty and caramel notes of Tawny Ports, each sip tells a story. Wine aficionados gather to explore the nuances of aging, the impact of terroir, and the meticulous craftsmanship that transforms grapes into liquid poetry.
No celebration of Port Wine Day is complete without exploring the art of food pairing. Whether enjoyed with rich cheeses, decadent chocolates, or even as an accompaniment to a fine meal, the versatility of Port wine ensures a perfect match for any palate.
Port Wine Tasting Tours in Porto
Embarking on a Port wine tasting tour in Porto is a sensory journey through the heart of Portugal’s viticultural heritage. The city, adorned with colorful facades and perched on the hills overlooking the Douro River, is home to some of the most renowned Port wine cellars. Visitors can wander through the ancient cobblestone streets, absorbing the rich history, before delving into the cool, dimly lit cellars that house barrels of aging liquid gold. Most of the port wine houses are located within the same area, and can easily be visited by strolling around on foot. Each has its own offering when it comes to port tasting tours; some even have bars, restaurants and museums! Guided by knowledgeable sommeliers, enthusiasts have the opportunity to sample an array of Port styles. The experience is heightened by the breathtaking views of the Douro River and the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge, creating an unforgettable backdrop for a truly immersive Port wine tasting adventure.
Wine Tasting on the Silver Coast
If you want to experience Port Tasting on the Silver Coast, be sure to check at your local wine shop (Garrafeira), as they may offer port and wine tasting events. You can also try the local fortified wines, similar to Port, at some wineries in the area.
Just outside Bombarral is Quinta do Sanguinhal – a family-run estate who offer wine tours and tastings. The winery buildings are beautiful and during the informative tour you will see the enormous oak casks where fortified wine is stored for between 12 and 60 years. There is a wonderfully detailed article here: https://juliedawnfox.com/quinta-do-sanguinhal/.
Though the following experiences include wine tasting (rather than Port or Fortified Wines), we thought we would share a few option with you:
There is the wine museum in Alcobaca – this is right in the town and is really popular. They do tastings and you can purchase the wine. You can find further information on these websites: https://www.cm-alcobaca.pt/pt/pt/pt/2735/museu-do-vinho.aspx https://www.bestguide.pt/en/bestguide-search/name/museu-do-vinho-de-alcobaca/
Cortem wines, located in Cortem, which is near to Vidais and Salir do Matos area offer wine tasting experiences: https://www.vinhoscortem.com/experiences/.
A little further south, in Torres Vedras, is AdegaMãe. They offer visits and tastings and they also have a new, modern restaurant, which you can find out more about on their website: https://adegamae.pt/visitas-e-provas/
And further south again, Quinta do Gradil is in Cadaval. This is an old winery, established in 1942 and is very large – offering tours, tastings, weddings & events. https://www.quintadogradil.wine/en/winetourism/
Virtual Tastings and Celebrations
In the digital age, Port Wine Day has transcended physical borders, with virtual tastings and celebrations connecting enthusiasts from every corner of the globe. Winemakers, sommeliers, and passionate individuals share their insights, creating a global community bonded by a love for this exceptional fortified wine.
As we raise our glasses on International Port Wine Day, we toast not only to the exquisite flavours, but also to the centuries of history, the picturesque landscapes of Porto, and the joy of savouring every drop. It’s a day to celebrate tradition, innovation, and the enduring allure of Port wine—a true elixir that stands the test of time. Cheers to Port Wine Day!