Port wine tasting in Alfama, Lisbon
There is nothing like Port wine especially during Christmas celebrations in countries with a decent winter. Portugal is probably on the warmer scale but my gosh they do know how to make a good port wine.
Having had a meal in Lisbon’s oldest district Alfama, it seemed the natural thing to do was to pop into the small wine specialist next door to the restaurant for a glass of port wine.
This was the plan until of course the shop owner decided to put on an impromptu port wine tasting session. The owner was an Angolan national who had worked in the restaurant business in Angola for a couple of decades. He certainly knew his tawnies from his rubies as he regaled us with an overload of information on Portuguese port wine. In between telling us about how some wealthy folks in Angola did not think much about blowing a thousand dollars on lunch in the restaurant he worked in to how a town I had visited a day before – Cascais, was the Beverley Hills of Lisbon, he expertly taught me every thing I now know about port wine. He explained why Douro Valley in northern Portugal, was one of the greatest wine producing areas in the world to the process of fortifying wine with aguardente (grape spirit) and ageing it in wooden barrels for years.
This was sweet wine that passed off more as dessert but did pack enough of a punch to get me to lose a couple of moments of concentration as I listened to my newly found Angolan-Portuguese wine connoisseur and merchant. I was amused as he constantly pronounced UNESCO (Douro valley is a world UNESCO heritage site) as “Uneshsco”. There is an awful lot of “sh” in Portuguese.
As we tasted various port wines in this most special part of Lisbon, I could not help but wish I could hang out here more often. As I chatted the evening away I knew I had experienced Lisbon and its environs as I should. I had in the few days I had been in Lisbon visited almost everywhere this resident of Lisbon told us about. His favourite must see, I later learned from him, was Pena castle in Sintra, a castle I had found to be truly magical myself.
The evening was not planned this way but it ended with the sort of spontaneity that could never be replicated or recreated. A true one-off that will live in the memory for a long time.