Portugal has over 340 local grape varieties, but only about a dozen make quality wine. The ones used in the Douro wine region for the production of Port and still wines are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cao, Touriga Francesa and Tinta Roriz– the Portuguese name for Tempranillo. In Porto, the city that gives name to its wine, there’s an institute and a museum dedicated just to Port wines- the Port Wine Institute and the Port Wine Museum, respectively.
The port wines are actually made in the wineries located in the Douro valley, and travel through the Douro river to Vila Nova de Gaia, across the city of Porto, where they are stored in the winery’s lodge. One can easily spend a day or two there, tasting Port and visiting the area, which is really beautiful. The view from either bank is gorgeous, specially at night. There’s great food and Fado on both sides, not to mention the wine, of course.
Oh, and the beaches… Right in the city you can go for a dip on your lunch break, or suntan while munching on a cod fritter. I wish I had more time to visit the Minho, a white wine region above Porto, where the Vinho Verde comes from and where the best surf beaches in Portugal are found. I always had a thing for surfing, but maybe it’s not a good idea now that I’ve developed a bigger thing for wine, or at least not the two combined…