Portuguese wine and spirits. Because, I love me some wine and spirits!
Wine is a deep subject. There is no end to it once you start to study it. American wines are probably the most straightforward, but that doesn’t mean they are easy by any means. Then there are French wines, Italian, German and Austrian, and Portuguese, to name a few. Each one is a study in itself and, the approachability descends with each country listed!
I have been a student of wine and spirits for over ten years, and the learning curve continues to challenge me. So, in an attempt to educate myself and hopefully shed some light on the subject, I am going to write here about Portuguese wines and the derivatives thereof. It would be a waste not to strive for expertise in the subject when I have the supreme good fortune to be living in Portugal! So, here goes! Bring on the Vinhos Portugueses!(See previous post, Got Wine?)
Portuguese wine is a world unto itself. The geography of the country makes it more isolated than most. It is easier for Portugal to keep to itself more than many countries since its only neighbors are Spain to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
As a result of its relative isolation, the wines of Portugal have traditionally stayed mostly at home. Port wine is the one exception. Britain and Portugal have had a close relationship for centuries, and Port wine is one of the reasons. The British have been port lovers since the 1700s, and this unique fortified wine comes from the Douro wine region in northern Portugal. The Douro was the first demarcated wine region in the world. The Marquis de Pombal made it so in 1756. He knew a good thing when he saw it, and real port wine can only come from Portugal. And while Port wine is one of the country’s many claims to fame, the table wines are the unsung heroes of the wine show in Portugal.
Portugal has over 250 different indigenous grape varieties. It is second only to Italy in this respect. (Italy has over 1,000 different native grape varieties!) Any self-respecting wine drinker knows the big names in Italian grapes. (Nebbiolo, Sangiovese…anyone? Anyone?) Portuguese wine grapes? Not so much.
Here’s a hint, for reds, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and, Tinto Roriz (aka Tempranillo in Spain) are big names. For whites, Alvarinho (same as Spanish Albarino, just spelled differently), Arinto, and, Antao Vaz.
Traditionally both the red and white table wines have been blends of various grapes. Single varietal wines are becoming more common as winemakers find the best grapes to vinify on their own. Touriga Nacional is the star of the red grapes, while Alvarinho is the leading white grape.
Here’s the thing, they are all so good! (To quote from the movie Bottle Shock.)
When we first arrived on the Iberian Peninsula, we were excited to try the local wines. So, the fact that 98% of the wines in the stores are local mattered not. A year later, we are still trying all local vinhos and loving them all! Even better, the Portuguese wines cost a fraction of what we were paying for wines in the states. It is fun and exciting to try so many great wines that aren’t available outside the country. All of the drink in Portugal is deserving of a much bigger place on the world stage. Now that we live here, we will continue to enjoy them and look for opportunities to spread the word about them abroad. Viva Portugal!
Here’s some of what I’ve been reading in the news from the states: 38% of Americans are avoiding Corona Mexican beer because of the name! Also, people are avoiding Chinese food because of the connection between the virus and its country of origin. WOW!
Some of the things I’ve seen online have only reinforced the contention that the level of stupidity has gone off the charts stateside. Here are a couple more headlines out there right now: Why America’s Virus Response Looks Like a Patchwork, this from the New York Times, mind you. Well, Captain Obvious, could it be that America is a patchwork of states that all have different rules? And if you don’t know this, you might want to go back and study your American history. Just saying.
Also, Infected People Without Symptoms Might be Driving the Spread of the Corona Virus. This one from CNN. Yup, you heard right. Now, I am not a science type by any stretch of the imagination but, if I was a betting person, I would bet big that people who are infected and not showing symptoms are driving the spread of this new virus.
Think about your basic cold viruses. Just from personal experience, I know that when I start coming down with a common cold, I am in denial about it. Oh, I’m just tired… Meanwhile, I’m out and about probably infecting every other person with which I come into contact. I guess only time will tell if this is the case and the big CV is transmitted similarly.
In the meantime, people are reacting like the dumb, panicky, dangerous animals that they are. Buying out basics at the grocery store so that people who might really need said basics can’t get them. Amazing and sad, but true to form, people are reacting with a panicked herd mentality.
But enough of CV-19 and the blatant stupidity that is a rampant contagion worse than the virus. It is funny how ahead of the curve we are, already working from home. We have been homeworkers for over a year now. And have become used to our own company for the most part. We still have to walk the dog but now taking walks is our main entertainment outside the house. It’s not so bad, really. It helps if you have a hermit kind of mentality, to begin with, I guess, which I do.
It is almost spring, and all of the trees are blooming here in the Porto area, and the air is redolent of the white Jasmine that grows in the area. Nature says, silly humans, life goes on. And so should we, albeit with the utmost caution. Stay well, everyone!