Portugal, doubtless, is synonymous with port wine. Rich, deep and red, it’s what you sip following an incredibly hefty steak, preferably with your feet propped up and warmed by a roaring fire. Well, there’s a world of port beyond tawny and ruby. In fact, I was converted to white port recently, and I’ll never go back! When you book your next cheap tickets to Lisbon or Porto, the two largest cities in Portugal, make sure you add a winery tour or two … and definitely find yourself a bottle of white port!
Unlike the red port to which you are likely accustomed, white port is meant to be consumed cold, so be sure to chill it before that first pour. Of course, you’ll learn this when you travel to Portugal and see for yourself how it is made and served.
Your top destination for the ins and outs of wine in Portugal is the Douro Valley. The Douro River’s mouth is at Porto, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. In the region, be sure to visit Quinta de Pacheca, which has daily guided tours, a full restaurant and tastings (which have to be booked in advance).
To get off the beaten port path and see what goes into making the white version, take a look at Ramos Pinto Port Winery, which dates back to 1880. Tour the wine cellar – Ramos Pinto is open all year long – and be sure to sample the goods! You’ll wind up with a taste for something unusual, not to mention a new perspective on port wine.
Since you’re entering new territory with white port (unless you’re already lucky enough to have discovered what so many of us have overlooked for so long), be sure to ask for pairing ideas. And when you get home, put a bottle in the refrigerator right away – it will be colder and ready to serve sooner!
Wine travel changes your perspective, introducing you to tastes and ideas you probably wouldn’t see otherwise. Book a cheap flight to Portugal today, and get ready to turn everything you know about port on its head. Sure, you’ll want to see how the various red ports are produced … and you’ll definitely want to taste more than a few. Make sure you leave some room on your itinerary for white port, though. It’s the sort of find that will make your friends interested in the stories you have from your wine travel vacation!
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Photo: Francisco Antunes