Porto, also known as Oporto the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, with a population of around 208,000 has the distinction of being considered one of Europe's most charismatic cities, as well as one of the last undiscovered European metropolises.
Despite humble beginnings as an ancient port steeped in history and tradition on the banks of the stately Douro river, Porto is equally well known for its atmosphere as its monuments and architecture. It’s kaleidoscope of colours and styles are uniquely Portuguese. This is the city that gave port wine its name, birthplace to one of world's legendary figures, Prince Henry the navigator and incidentally fictional character Harry Potter, author JK Rowling was living in Oporto as an English teacher when she started writing her first book.
Port wine, usually referred to simply as port is a fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley. Typically richer, sweeter and heavier and possessing a higher alcohol content usually 19-23% is traditionally served as a dessert wine. It is the third oldest protected wine region in the world after surprisingly Hungary and Chianti in Italy. In 1756 under the rule of the Marques de Pombal it was founded to guarantee the quality of the product, fair pricing and importantly regulating distribution, a measure which although unpopular at the time resulted in an improvement in the quality of Port wine.
Traditionally the wine was taken downriver in flat-bottom boats called ‘barcos rabelos’ to be processed and stored before shipping.
Enter England. Port wine had become very popular whilst the English and French at the time were engaged in yet another war, thereby depriving the English of French wine. The Port wine was recognised as smooth and palatable, a stable product, surviving the long and sometimes difficult voyage without spoiling and increasing its popularity particularly in economic terms for the powerful shipping families eager to exploit a profitable new product.
Port has been used in the past as a healing agent in earlier remedies. The British Prime Minister William Pitt was given port for gout as a boy. He began at the age of 14 (1773) with a bottle a day.
There are many varieties you will probably be familiar with, tawny, crusted, vintage, single quinta, white/rose and more. Come join us on tour and discover on a visit to a Port winery more of the production methods and the fascinating history behind whilst tasting a selection of these legendary wines.