One of the highlights of a Douro River cruise is getting to sample the different varieties of port wine as you sail through backdrops that are littered with vineyards and other stunning scenery. Your trip along Portugal’s most prevalent river is sure to include at least one chance to same this famous tipple and so we’re taking a look at the country’s best ports of call in which to drink port.
Porto, also known as Oporto, is where it all began. The fortified wine takes the same name as the city due to the fact that large quantities were brought to market here in the 17th century. In Europe, only wine from Portugal can be labelled as port and so even though other countries produce similar styles, this is the real thing.
On the other side of the river to the city centre, Vila Nova de Gaia is home to the mammoth port making companies that reside in Porto. Names such as Taylor’s, Cockburn’s and Graham’s will be familiar to most and all of these port producing behemoths invite you into their cellars to try their blend of the beverage. Taylor’s is noted for is spectacular views of the city, whilst many others also offer tours and tastings for free.
Porto is also the perfect place to sample white port. This is less widely drunk but can still be found in abundance across Portugal’s second city.
Further down the Douro, you will find Regua or Peso de Regua to give it its full name. This town, with a population of around 10,000, owes much of its fortunes to the production of port wine and is now a popular tourist destination along the river because of this. It is situated in a part of the Douro region that is particularly good for ruby and tawny ports that are inexpensive to produce and buy.
As well as vineyards such as Quinta da Pacheca and Quinta do Tedo (which, incidentally, both make delicious olive oil as well as port), you can visit the Museu de Douro in Regua. This museum will tell you all about the history of port as well as the heritage of the region itself. In the past, the town has also held a chocolate and port wine festival at the end of November/beginning of December.
Further east still, you’ll find the beautiful yet small town of Pinhão. This is part of the Cima Corgo port producing region and so you will be able to find wines of a slightly better quality here. The marginally warmer weather and decreased rainfall often results in a bumper harvest and this means there is more chance of Vintage and Late Bottled ports being produced.
During your time here, you can sample a number of different Fonseca Ports at the Quinta do Panascal vineyard. Named after the family who first began making them, Fonseca ports are thought to be some of the highest quality and include many sort after vintages. At this production house, you will even have the chance to taste the first, fully-certified, organic port. Half way between Regua and Pinhão, you’ll also find the famous Quinta do Crasto vineyard, which is another big name in the UK and world market.
As you can see, there are plenty of chances to sample port wine in many different guises during your Douro River cruise. If this is something you are interested in, we have itineraries available which are themed on the fortified wine and include guest speakers and onboard port-accompanied dinners.