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Why Porto is famous for port

27 October 2020 08:58

Enjoy a glass of the good stuff on the banks of the River Douro

Enjoy a glass of the good stuff on the banks of the River Douro

It's the ideal winter warmer, a fiery digestif often reserved for chilly autumn nights or dropping into Christmassy recipes. But where exactly does port come from, and what's so special about this sweet, rich drink? Let's see.

What is port?

Also known as vinho do Porto, port is a fortified (read: strong) wine created using distilled grape spirits from the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It's revered as a dessert wine, a cake and cocktail ingredient, and a digestive to enjoy after Christmas dinner. Talk about multitasking...

When does Porto's history with port begin?

Producing and drinking wine in Portugal dates all the way back to antiquity. The renowned geographer Strabo, who also wrote on the origins of pizza in Napoli, spoke of the Romans growing vines in Portugal and enjoying wine on the banks of the Douro River - where port is produced today - as long as 2,000 years ago.

How important is port to Porto today?

When you think of heading to Portugal, the first places that spring to mind are probably the Algarve and Lisbon, in all their colourful splendour. But port lovers and food fanatics alike can expect plenty of tasty treats along the banks of the Douro. Essentially port to Porto is like cork to Lisbon, or sherry to Jerez.

Where can I go in Porto to find its famous port?

Luckily for those on a hunt for authentic port, there are oodles of spots you can give it a try in quaint Porto. Try a port-tasting tour along the banks of the river, or opt for the historic Ferreira Cellars, which has been producing the sweet stuff for over two centuries.

What else is Porto known for?

When you're not sipping port riverside, there are plenty of other things to keep you busy in this colourful Portuguese city. Make sure to spend a lazy morning meandering through the Livraria Lello bookshop, with its ornate winding staircases and intricately-carved bookshelves.

Make sure you're covered for Portugal

Interested in taking a trip to Porto one day? You should take a look at our brief guide to travelling in Portugal.