It’s called Vinho do Porto in Portuguese. And if you are already in Porto, what could be closer than a port wine tasting? Port wine is one of the oldest export hits of Porto and THE product of the city. Porto is located at the Douro and further east at the Douro there is the Douro valley. Here the grapes for this special wine are cultivated and pressed. In former times ships, the so-called rabelos, transported the wine to Porto to the port wineries in Vila Nova de Gaia. There the wines mature further, depending on quality years or decades. Nowadays, tourists sail along the Douro on the rabelos instead barrils of port wine – and I was told it was really worth seeing.
Port wine – How does it taste?
Actually, I’m not a port wine fan. Port wine is said to be a sweet wine, but it takes off my shoes because it is so strong and reminds me more of cognac. And I’m not an expert on wine in general. Although I already had enough opportunities to taste good wines, my wine knowledge does not go beyond a simple “Tastes good to me” or “Doesn’t taste good to me”. I am sure you could serve me wine from the Tetrapak and sell it as the most expensive wine ever. But I like to get to know new things on my travels, and Porto without port wine: Somehow it doesn’t work.
Port wine tasting in Porto – Where to go for a port wine tasting?
The nice employee in my hotel* (by the way also a hot tip!) recommended Graham’s Winery to me. Because when you stand on the banks of the Douro and look across to Vila Nova de Gaia, you’ll see the dilemma when choosing a nice place for a port wine tasting: There’s one port winery next to the other. Whether Sandeman, Graham’s, Ferreira, Taylor’s or Calem – one neon sign competes with the other. All wineries offer guided tours with subsequent tasting, and there is even a hotel* on the Sandeman site. So which one should you choose?
Port wine tasting at Graham’s Lodge
For the guided tour at Graham’s nothing goes without prior online registration. The tour is offered in various languages and is really informative: after a short film about the production in the Douro Valley, a tour guide takes you through the winery.
By the way, I landed with a handful of Brazilians in the Portuguese tour. Which made it all the more amusing, because Brazilians are communicative by nature and even more so after three port wines. In summer, it must be even more beautiful up here: from the in-house restaurant, you have the best view over Porto! By the way, despite my untrained palate, I could still taste the differences: I am rather Tawny than Ruby. Further insight: Three port wines – and I am hammered.
The guided tour costs 15€ including the three cheapest wines, but connoisseurs can also taste the crème de la crème of port wines – if you bring enough cash, because a wine tasting can cost easily over 200€ then.
If you don’t have enough time to make it to Graham’s (it’s a little bit far away from the other wineries, I got there by bus and walked all the way back, which was quite a stretch), I’d recommend a visit at Cálem – you will also get a free concert with live Fado music there. Fado is a typical Portuguese music style and you haven’t been to Portugal if you haven’t been to a Fado concert! Take the chance and enjoy both at the same time: Port wine & Fado!