10 Wine Experiences You Can’t Afford to Miss in Porto
The world epicenter of Port wine is set along the Douro River in Porto, Portugal. This charming city is easy to navigate by foot and filled with world-class restaurants, stunning tile work and architecturally diverse buildings. These nine experiences are a must for wine and Port lovers visiting Porto.
1. Visit the Port Wine Cellars
The best way to get acquainted Port is with visit to one or several of the famous Port Wine Cellars where you can learn about the history, the growing regions, the production process and best of all sample the precious aged nectar. Vila Nova de Gaia, located south of the city of Porto on the opposite side of the Douro River, is home to the Port Wine Cellars. Port Wine is a sweet fortified wine, exclusively produced in the Douro designated region, aged in the cellars in Gaia and exported from Porto all over the world. Of note are Grahams’s Cellars and Offley Cellars each awarded Best of Wine Tourism in the last five years.
2. My Port Wine Day
When planning your visit be sure to check the Facebook page of the Port and Douro Wines Institute (IVDP) to find out about the My Port Wine Day program. Each month a different theme and program is announced via IVDP’s Facebook page and takes place on the 10th of every month. My Port Wine Day aims to deepen the food pairing experience of Port Wine. Unusual pairings such Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar and Macadamia Nut Brittle Gelato are paired with select Ports for a unique experience that is both educational and delicious.
3. The Yeatman Dining Experience
Perhaps the ultimate wine and food experience in all of Porto is at The Yeatman, a Michelin Star rated restaurant located in the wine hotel of the same name. Set overlooking the Douro River, with a wonderful view of the city of Porto, The Yeatman offers a classic, comfortable environment where you can enjoy sophisticated and creative cuisine that reflects the regional influences of Northern Portugal. The extraordinary wine cellar contains more than 27,000 bottles and has more than 1,300 Portuguese and international wines. A 'Port Wine Ambassador' is on call to assist with selecting a Port Wine to pair with your meal. Awarded Best Of Wine Tourism, in Wine Tourism Restaurants – 2013.
4. Urban Wine Route
Porto established itself as an important trade Port from early times. Along with the many products traded: Port Wine, Vinho Verde, table wine or fine wine, the culture of wine has always occupied a prominent position in the local economy. Many vestiges of the early wine trade are still visible today in urban landscape. The Urban Wine Route is the perfect way to explore Porto on foot at a leisurely pace and discover the many places, squares, gardens, medieval structures, markets, and buildings (both public and private) that make Porto a city of wine. Routes and maps are available online at the Visit Porto website.
5. Sail Along the Douro Vineyards
There is no better way to experience the beauty of the Douro Vineyards than by boat. Depart on your Barcadouro Vinhas Do Douro tour from Vila Nova de Gaia quay where you will transfer by coach to the boat dock in Pinhão. On board you’ll enjoy breakfast and lunch as you pass the breath-taking vineyards towering above on both sides of the riverbank and cruise through the Crestuma-Lever and Carrapatelo Dams. Along the way the boat will stop at one of the venerable Port estates for a tour, Port tasting and shopping. Relax with a Port wine aperitif as the ship glides along the tranquil river. Tip: If you get a chance, be sure to check out the marvelous blue and white tile mosaics in the Pinhão train station.
6. Visit to Port and Douro Wines Institute (IVDP)
With so much to see and do in Porto, the best place to start your visit is at the Port and Douro Wines Institute. The IVDP is a public institute serving both wine professionals and visitors with the most comprehensive information and programs about the wine region. The Institute is responsible for the regulations, certification and supervision of the denomination of origin 'Porto' and 'Douro'. It is also charged with promoting Douro and Port wines locally and internationally. The visitor center in Rua Ferreira Borges, in Oporto offers visitors tips on where to go and what to do in the region and has an onsite wine shop and tasting room with guided Port Wine tastings.
7. Grape Harvest of the Porto and Douro Wines
The top “can’t miss” experience in the Douro is harvest. September is traditionally the month of grape harvest and the time to gather the grapes, carry them in baskets, crush them and make the nectar of the gods: Wine. Channel your inner Lucy Ricardo and stomp grapes in the concrete lagares at Quinta da Pacheca (Pacheca estate), one of the Douro's most well known properties, and also one of the first to bottle wine with its own brand. If time permits, book a stay at the boutique hotel, and make sure to visit the gorgeous wine cellars. Awarded Best of Wine Tourism in Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences—2016.
8. Rabelo Boat Regatta
The Rabelo Boat Regatta has it all— History! Drama! Competition! Held every year, on the 24th of June, on the Douro River, the Regatta, coinciding events and festivities all take place in celebration of Port Wine. Join hundreds of happy onlookers as they line both banks of the river and cheer the boats on their way. An iconic symbol of the Port industry, the traditional Rabelo cargo boats were used for centuries to transport Port Wine from the Douro Valley to the cellars of Porto. The crews of the boats representing several Port Wine Shippers (Cockburn, Gran Cruz, Quinta and Vineyard Bottlers, Sogevinus, Sogrape Vinhos, Symington Family Estates, Rozès) unfurl their sails and race upriver to the finish line.
9. Winemaker for a Day
After touring, tasting, and learning all about the wine and the region —its’ time to make some wine of your own. Visit Monverde Wine Experience Hotel and become a “Winemaker for a Day” where you’ll have the opportunity to make your own wine. The hotel is dedicated to a fully immersive experience to involve all your senses within the vineyard, in the grape varieties, and in the overwhelmingly beautiful landscape. Expand your knowledge and appreciation of wine with sensory classes and guided tastings that will hone your sense of scent and taste and prepare you to become Winemaker for a Day and actually blend your own bottle of wine. Awarded Wine Experience Hotel, Global Best Of Wine Tourism—2016
10. Essência do Vinho
Every year, in February, takes place in Palácio da Bolsa, in Porto, the biggest Portuguese event exclusively devoted to wine – “Essência do Vinho” (Essence of Wine), that brings together around 350 Portuguese and international producers, with more than 3.500 wines for tasting, with a programme that includes wine tastings guided by wine experts, wine pairing by well-known Chefs and one of the most significant annual tastings of Portuguese Wines– the selection of the “TOP 10 Portuguese Wines”, by a renowned international jury.