Wines of Portugal
Portugal is most famous for a single wine product. This is port, the thick, long-aging fortified wine of renown. Port has been loved for centuries, and is a classic after-dinner drink adored around the world in modern times. Port is made near the city of Oporto, in the northern area of Portugal. Port can be sweet or gentle, nutty or rich. Port goes wonderfully with cheese and chocolate.
In addition to port, Portugal also creates another fortified wine – Madeira. Madeira is named after its island home, which is located off the African coast, near Casablanca. Madeira is used in many delicious recipes, usually with chicken.
Portugal is located in the south western part of Europe and its fame is spread worldwide because of the supreme quality wines produced in its vineyards. It is interesting to note in this case that in order to trace the origin of the practice of wine cultivation in Portugal, one has to move back through the pages of history to years before the birth of Christ. Regarding the origin of wine cultivation, though there are two different schools of thought. One can be attributed to the Roman influence as Portugal was incorporated as a part of the Roman Empire and the Roman deity Bacchus was associated as being the god of wine and merriment. However, various theorists have pointed out that it was the Tartessians in 2000 BC who had reaped the seeds of wine cultivation by creating vineyards in the Portuguese soil by beginning wine cultivation near the Tagus river valley. More often it is said that in the 10th century BC the vineyards began functioning under the patronage of the Phoenicians. But there is no denying the fact that wine cultivation as an art developed in the 7th century BC under the influence of the Greeks.
Today Portugal is one of the foremost wine producers in the world and wine exports contribute immensely to the country’s economic growth. In fact, two of the foremost wine producing region of the country, namely the Douro Valley wine region and the Pico Island wine region have been regarded as world heritage sites by the UNESCO. The Douro valley also contains the world’s oldest appellation system. There are myriad grape varieties or ‘castas’ in Portugal which contribute to the diversity of wine kinds. The prominent wine producing regions in Portugal include Colares, Setubal, Dao, Porto, Bairrada, Bucelas, Douro, Vinhos Verdes, Alentejo, Madeira, Algarve. The most popular among them is the Porto wine and the Madeira wine which account for the maximum exports.