Douro Valley Exploration: Port Wine Tour
PORTO, PORTUGAL is quickly becoming a top tourist destination, and after visiting, I completely understand why! It's got amazing history, rich culture, beautiful and colorful buildings, a lively nightlife, and not to mention: port wine. The vast Douro Valley - just 30 minutes inland from the city - offers incredible scenery and this Porto native drink straight from the source.
So if you're anything like me, you're thinking sweet & thick port wine? I'll pass. But - I can tell you that it's not all like the stuff we get in the US; I actually enjoyed it! Port wine or not though, a trip through the Douro Valley to see these quaint vineyards nestled alongside the Portugal country side is totally worth it.
Before I go on to describe our day, I have to give a recognition to the tour guide company that made all this possible: EFun Tours. We booked the Douro Valley Wine Tour: Three Vineyards & Lunch for $110 / person. Included in the tour is:
- Pick up and drop off from your hotel
- Specialty coffee drink from a Douro Valley coffee shop
- Tastings at three different vineyards and a tour at one of the locations
- Provide an awesome multi-course lunch at a local restaurant with basically unlimited wine
It was absolutely worth the money.
We visited three wineries: Croft, Quinta da Pacheca, and Sociedade Agrícola Quinta Seara D'ordens, and each one was wonderful. The guides and tasting organizers were all informative, friendly, and generous ;) We ended up purchasing a bottle of olive oil and port wine from the last place, which we enjoyed the most. It's always funny when you get souvenirs like that because you end up wanting to save them for a "special" event. At least our port wine is just becoming more valuable right?
Quinta da pacheca
Croft est 1588
Quinta Seara d'ordens
Because we went in July, it was really hot. Luckily, only one of the tastings was outside, but I definitely recommend wearing something light and breezy that also enables you to climb in and out of a van. Also if you get car sick, try to sit at the front. The roads are winding and a little bumpy. I got a little queasy by the third tasting.. which I'm going to blame solely on the roads and not on the excessive consumption of port ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
know before you go: QUick facts on port wine
- The wine is not stored in the Douro Valley, as the hot climate makes it non-ideal conditions for the preservation of the wine. Instead, it's stored in cellars mostly located on the southern side of the city of Porto in the Vila Nova de Gaia area (check these out during your visit!).
- Like all wines, both the region's climate and soil contribute to the unique flavors. But as you probably know - port wine is higher in alcohol content. This is because additional alcohol (Aguardente Vínica) is added during the fermentation process. The timing of this addition greatly contributes to the sweetness, flavor, and distinctiveness of the wine.
- As the wine ages, it will exhibit stronger tones, making its color depth a hallmark of its age
- There are two different types of port wine: ruby and tawny. The former is bottled young and is typically red with a fruity aroma. Tawny's are aged in barrels, and vary in both color and flavor profile. They tend to be a bit more woody.
- There are also dry / light ports available! Try the newer pink rosé; it was my favorite on the trip.
- In general, any bottle marked reserve or vintage means its special. Reserve is a blend of the best ports of the year, whereas the vintage ports are the best wines aged anywhere from 10-50 years in the bottle.
Enjoy your trip &/or let me know about other experiences you had here !