"Port Wines" Portugal Local Custom Tip by traveldave

Portugal Local Customs: 174 reviews and 235 photos


Portugal is famous for its port wines. Port wines are a red wine that is richer, sweeter, heavier, and has a higher alcoholic content than most other wines. Commonly served with dessert, port wine comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties.

The wine was named in the seventeenth century after the city of Porto in northern Portugal. Porto is situated at the mouth of the Douro River, in whose river valley grapes used in the production of port wine are grown. Porto was the seaport from which most of the port wines were brought to market and shipped to countries throughout Europe.

The Douro Valley was defined and established as a demarcated region in 1756, making it the third-oldest demarcated region in the world, after Chianti and Tokaj. Wines called port are produced in Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, and the United States. However, under the European Union Protected Designation of Origin, only those wines produced in the Douro region of Portugal can officially be labled as port.

To put it simply, there are three basic types of port wine: vintage port (produced from the grapes of a single harvest and "declared" only in years when the quality is deemed extraordinary); crusted port (produced from grapes from two or three different harvests); late-bottled port (wine that has been allowed to age from four to six years--longer than other ports); and finally, wood port (the most common, which is made up from grapes of different harvests and is aged only until it is ready for drinking).

Throughout Portugal there are bodegas where port wines and locally produced vinhos verdes, or green wines, can be sampled and bought.

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  • Updated Nov 19, 2010
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