Porto wine is the best-known fortified wine in the world. And what makes it fortified? The fact that aguardente (similar to brandy) is added to it as a means of keeping the fruit from fermenting, thus preserving the original sweet taste of the grapes and increasing its alcohol content. White or ruby, it’s all the same. And this is isn’t new. It’s been common practice since the 17th century, when Englishmen wanted to carry some Portuguese vinho back home. In order to help preserve the wine during the long sea journey, British merchants added spirits to make it stronger. And that’s how it all started. Such is the origin of Porto wine.
The area with the highest concentration of wine cellars ageing this type of wine is in Vila Nova Gaia, a municipality near Porto that is full of vineyards planted along the banks of the Douro River. Fancy attending a wine tasting in Porto? These are some of the wine cellars you can’t miss out on for a top notch wine experience:
Sandeman Cellars: Without a doubt, Sandeman is one of the main cellars in Porto, as well as among the most popular because of its highly recognizable logo: the image of Don Sandeman, a mysterious character dressed in a black cape and a Spanish hat. The best part of this tour are its aromas and flavors. You’ll be a big fan of Porto wine by the time you walk out. Keep in mind they hold daily tastings, and the normal entry fee is less than 5 euros.
Ramos Pinto Port Winery: This is a mandatory visit; do or do! It was founded around the end of the 19th century by Adriano Ramos Pinto, and it is now one of Porto’s most visited wineries. You can visit their cellars, the founder’s home, and attend a Porto wine tasting for just 6 euros. The entry fee is slightly higher than that of some of the others but it is also a more comprehensive tour.
Ferreira Cellars: It is said to be one of the prettiest wine cellars in the world; although, not as well-known as the previous one on this list. The building, built over an old convent is an artwork in itself; as is what it hides within its walls. This company was formed in 1751 by a family of winegrowers of the Douro region, and today it is a reference winery that produces and keeps the best collection of 19th and 20th century Porto wines. And we are not exaggerating. Paradoxically, the entrance price is a mere 4.5 euros.
Offley Forrester: Its origins can be traced back to one name, William Offley. With him, the renowned and respected winemaker Baron Forrester launched, in 1737, what is said to be one of the most aromatic names in Porto. Do take into account that they only open their doors during high season, from March to October. You can visit 3 cellars, those of Sandeman, Ferreira and Offley for the moderate price of 9 euros.
Calem Cave: Although the cellar in itself is not particularly remarkable, Calem is among the must-try names within the circuit of Porto vinhos.