WINE TOURISM IN PORTUGAL
K.O. Veres, D. Vinogradova
National University of Food Technologies
Gastronomy, food and wine tourism has become a rapidly growing area of tourism research and tourism product development. Gastronomy is the zenith of cultural signifiers, epitomizing local dedication to tradition and innovation. Food and wine tours are more than just sensual feasts; they are a paradigm that elevates travel experiences to their most unique and luxuriant. The country is considered a traditional wine grower with 8% of its continental land dedicated to vineyards. Unlike most Latin wine producing countries wine consumption in Portugal appears to be stable.
Portugal has two wine producing regions protected by UNESCO as World Heritage: the Douro Valley Wine Region (Douro Vinhateiro) and Pico Island Wine Region (Ilha do Pico Vinhateira). Portugal has a large variety of native breeds (about 500), producing a very wide variety of different wines with distinctive personality. With the quality and uniqueness of its wines, the country is a sizable and growing player in wine production, being in the top 10, with 17 % of the world market (2014). Portugal offers to the traveler old world charm, wonderful wine country accommodation and beautiful, unspoiled scenery.
The most famous vineyards of the Alentejo region are those of Borba. Reguengos de Monsaraz, Vidigueira, Cuba and Alvito. In the beautiful hillsides and under the hot sun of Alentejo, the wine is produced from the "Periquita", "Trincadeira" and "Aragones" grape sorts. This wine is of good body, smooth, aromatic and garnet-red colored.
In looking at Portugal’s wine regions, it’s helpful to split the country in two, by drawing a line about a third of the way down. This separates the northern regions of the Douro, Dão and Bairrada, and the central and southern regions of the Alentejo, Ribatejo and Estremadura. As a useful generalization, the future for the northern regions lies in focusing on high-quality, top-end ‘terroir’ wines, while the strength of the southern and central regions is their ability to produce accessible, full flavored red wines in large quantities and at affordable prices: new world-style wines with a Portuguese twist. Detail and Port production:
- Douro: The proportion of grapes that cannot be turned into Port is grown with table wine production in mind. These wines can be excellent, especially when from the best varietals. Things have moved on a long way since the days when table wines were made of the ‘left overs’, partially at least because a good table wine can earn more money for the producer than almost all styles of port.
- Dao: Dao is another great source of good, affordable Portuguese wine, the best is made from Touriga Nacional. Until recently the wine was as tough as old boots yet not as appetising. Things have changed, and new style Dão is robust yet fragrant.
- Bairrada: This area has got a great grape, the Baga. The wines are intense, savoury, well structured and are great food wines.
- Alentejo: An inland region south of Lisbon that under-performed for years. It hit the headlines when Peter Bright made Tinto da Anfora and won the International Wine Challenge Best Red Wine trophy. Esporão is probably the leading estate.
- Vinho Verde: The flip side of Portuguese wine, the green wines, which can be red. These light table wines of the north are generally too thin and acidic for anyone other than the Portuguese.
Usually, a Wine tourism includes winery visits with the owners and winemakers, vineyard walks, visit to the vines, participating in the harvest with the locals, and wine tasting of exceptional and rare brands. For food and wine lovers, Portugal is famous for its Port wine industry, from the North to the South, the country is wealthy in good wines and, apart from the unique Port and Madeira, there are more than one hundred different varieties of wines, ranging from table wines to special ones, all of them reflecting the individual character of their respective soil.