Portugal in the reflection of a nectar

Learn more about this immense country. Travel through the history of its wines.

 


From north to south, passing by the islands that lie in the Atlantic, Portugal is internationally recognized for its excellent wines. Come discover the landscapes where these precious nectars are born. Green and blue scenarios that combine the vine with the river, the sea or the mountains will delight you and invite you to stay.

 

From whites to reds, through the sparkling and fortified wines, the Portuguese wine tradition dates back to the Roman occupation of the territory. The unique characteristics of our soils, a climate specific to each region, the multiple grape varieties and the know-how built over generations, all these confer to Portuguese wine a palette of unmatched shades, aromas and flavors.


From the producer's cellar to the table of the most exquisite restaurant, this treasure of our culture is present in all spheres of society. And in recent years, the development of this passion among a growing number of enthusiasts has created a new way to visit the country: through its wines. Today, the wine tourism makes already part of the plans for vacations and getaways for many Portuguese. If you have not tried it yet, venture out! Choose a Portuguese wine region and be caught up by this fascinating universe! Learn about the treatment methods of the vineyards, participate in the grape harvest and visit the cellars where the precious liquid is fermented, aged and bottled. Have your meals in a farm, join a wine tasting course and, at the end of the day, relax in the comfort of a cottage overlooking the field. There is a wide offer: the difficulty lies in choosing.     

 

 


From the mountain to the ocean

 In a not too big a country like Portugal, the world of wine appears to be huge. There are 11 national wine regions: Minho, Trás-os-Montes, Douro, Beiras, Lisbon, Tagus, Terras do Sado, Alentejo, Algarve, Madeira and Azores.


Try, for example, the Minho 'Verdes' (Green) Wines, where the lush fields are interspersed by rivers and small streams. Some say its name is due precisely to the wealth of vegetation in this area. Discover the wonderful spots of the Peneda-Geres National Park, and halfway through, taste a glass of a very fresh Alvarinho, considered by many as the best of the green wines.


Just next, Trás-os-Montes also has a designation of origin/appellation for its nectar. Going south, do not miss the historic Douro Wine Region, the first demarcated region of the world. Here the vines are arranged in terraces from the top of the deep valleys to the banks of the river in a landscape of rare beauty that has been defined by UNESCO as a World Heritage Cultural Landscape. In addition to Portugal's most famous nectar - the Port Wine - Douro also produces many of the best red and white national wines.


Just below, the Beira Alta offers  the wonderful nectars of Dão, a mountainous region where the vineyards are protected from the roughest winds by the set of  Caramulo, Montemuro, Buçaco and Estrela mountains. And neighbouring this better known region of Beiras, three other denominations of origin produce other wines of this area of the country: Beira Interior, Távora-Varosa and Lafões.


On its turn, Bairrada is now known mainly for its sparkling wines. Taste them while eating roasted piglet, a culinary tradition that you will find in every local restaurant.

 


South and islands

Further to the south, Ribatejo shows its landscapes of secular vineyards, which fame predates the founding of the nation. Even the first King Afonso Henriques referred to its wines in the charter granted to Santarém in 1170. Later, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, several Portuguese kings protected the wines of this area, once famous for producing huge quantities of wine and especially for supplying Lisbon restaurants and taverns.


But also the capital city is surrounded by a wine region that comprises nine appellations, and where we highlight Colares, with its vineyards protected by hedges of reeds, which confer a very special aspect to this wine landscape.


Also very special is the wine production of Lourinhã, where winemaking has always been linked to brandies, because here and for centuries has been made the upgrading (fortifying for distillation) of the Port wine. The demarcated region was recognized with the aim of defending and produce high quality old 'aguardentes' in the country, this being the sole in the country and one of the three appellation areas in the world, along with Armagnac and Cognac in France.


The Setúbal Peninsula, where the landscape wonderfully combines the Arrábida mountain, the Sado River and the sea that bathes Tróia and Sesimbra, is the motherland of the licorous Moscatel Wine.

 

There is nothing comparable to crossing the Alentejo plains, where the horizon extends farther and the sky looks bigger. Here, there are many wineries that open their doors to visitors and reveal the secrets of one of the greatest wine regions of Portugal.

 

Lastly, in the Algarve, four denominations continue the production of wines in this region where there is a strong wine tradition, since the Moorish occupation.


The islands also have a most relevant position in our wine map. In Madeira, vine growing was introduced by Prince Henry the Navigator who ordered the Malvasia grape variety from Greece. This has been, since then, the grape variety used in the production of the famous fortified Madeira wine, which began to be exported to all over the world in the eighteenth century. In the Azores, the highlights go the quality of the wines of Graciosa, and especially of Verdelho from Pico, a licorous wine that became famous for its quality on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and, more recently, due to its varieties planted in gaps in the basalt, protected by walls of volcanic rocks, which form a unique landscape, classified in 2004 as World Heritage by UNESCO.

 

From Trás-os-Montes to the Algarve and the islands, the vines unfold along the landscape. On the table, the results of this old tradition provide for priceless pleasures. Select a region and visit it. Feel the terroir that gives them life.

 

 

See all regions

Follow LifecoolerEng on Twitter