Évora with picnic lunch and wine tasting

    Yesterday I had the most amazing day with Carol and her family. They are a happy family of 6 composed by her parents, her and her husband and two kids, aged 8 and 14. They all wanted to visit Évora but while her husband wanted to visit a winery and try some wines, her parents wanted to see the country-side and her kids wanted to do something fun.

    In order to please everyone we visited Évora in the morning and once they were feeling hungry we drove towards a vineyard where between cork-oak trees and endless vineyards there was a wooden table set with regional products. Cheeses, hams, chicken pies, regional sweets and liqueurs, bread and jams, as well as fruit composed the menu. While parents could eat and taste some regional wines and liqueurs, the kids could run around vineyards and scratch pieces of cork from the trees.

    The picnic was provided by a local company of wine experts, so, all the products were fresh and we didn’t need to worry about cleaning the table or so. Once we finished eating we visited the winery where everyone could learn about the wine production and its complicated process. Since the kids were very interested in cork, we also visited a cork-factory in a really small town, far from everything, where they could learn more about the cork process and see how things are made.

By the way, here’s the tour link. If you’re looking for a romantic tour this can be an idea.  Imagine you and your partner having a picnic lunch on your own, tasting great wines in an idyllic landscape on the shade of cork-oak trees and vineyards…

Vinho Verde – Green wine

After my last article about grilled sardines, I definitely have to talk about the wine that should be drunk with them: the green wine. “Vinho Verde” is produced in “Minho” region, a DOC region in the north of Portugal, known for its cold, rainy weather and fertile lands with granite soils. Due to the scarcity of the land and the frozen rime that falls during the night, these vines are cultivated in height, in tunnels or being used as fences.

Green wine is known for being be light, crisp, aromatic, with a light prickle of fizz and sometimes with a touch of sweetness. Should be served chilly and accompanies grilled fish, salads, chicken dishes and seafood. It’s perfect for those warm days when you just feel good when sitting outside, chatting with friends, when you’d normally have a beer.

 Despite its lightness, don’t let it trick you: this wine doesn’t go down, goes straight up to your head and you’ll only feel its effect when you try to stand up. Don’t worry though: it just makes you feel happy and alive, with no headaches nor hangovers. «

This wine is called “green” because the grapes are harvested before they’re done. Though everyone associates Green wine with a white wine, in the north the most popular is the red one, made of red grapes from Green wine casts. It’s confusing, I know. Personally, I like the white “Vinho Verde” better.

Regarding the prices, it’s very reasonable. In a normal restaurant a bottle costs from 10 to 18 euros, and can be bought for a lot cheaper in a supermarket. Since it’s not a “noble” wine no wine expert would ever say that its favorite wine is a green. Glad I’m not an expert: I simply LOVE it!

The stamp that all Green Wine bottles must have to proof its qualityShare your thoughts with me and this post with your friends!


Here are the famous sardines!

Today I was doing this tour with Julia and Todd, a happy couple from the USA. Though they just had one day in Lisbon, they really wanted to seize it. We started with a tram ride towards Lisbon’s castle, visited the castle, walked trough the labyrinthine streets of Alfama, tried some port wine, bought some hand-painted tiles and sat for lunch before going to Belém area.

Right, lunch! As you may know, one of Lisbon’s most famous dishes is the sardines. They can be eaten from May until August (the months without an “R”), grilled, preferably accompanied by boiled potatoes, grilled green peppers, salad and some green wine as well. The funny thing is that since sardines used to be a poor’s people dish and hey must be grilled on the coal, you can’t find them in elegant restaurants. To eat sardines you can either follow your nose (the smell of grilled sardines can’t pass unnoticed) or look for a “normal” restaurant, preferably outside, preferably one of those with the special dishes written in a paper-towel, hanged on the wall. These are the best ones and of course that we visited one of these.

While Todd had grilled squids and I had “Frango no churrasco” (roasted chicken, I’ll write about it soon), Julian made me proud and ordered sardines, with Green wine. I’ll write about green wine soon, I promise, but by looking at Julian’s happy face, you can see that it was very good! :)

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And the winner is…

And the winner is…

We finally have the results and the great winner of “Concours Mondial Bruxelles”, as a red wine, is the Poliphonia Signature 2008. It’s produced in Évora region and is a property of Granadeiro Vinhos, which oenologist is Pedro Baptista.

This wine isn’t in the market yet but will be available in the next few days and will cost about 30€.

This wasn’t the only Portuguese wine that received some prizes: in the total Portuguese wines received 10 Great Gold Medals, about 100 Gold Medals and more than 150 Silver Medals.

The best red wine of “Concours Mondial”

The best red wine of the year, in the world, is going to be an Alentejo wine. The question is: which one?
Results come out next Monday and I’ll let you know as soon as they come out!
Every year, the Concours Mondial de Brouxelles gathers wine critiques from about 48 counties, to try different wines and choose the bests in the world.
This year’s edition happened in Guimarães and 8397 different samples were submitted, from 52 different countries. Divided by groups of 5 persons, the jury tries 5 groups of 10 wines, every morning, and grades them from 0 to 100 points. Wines that receive from 84 to 86,9 points will receive the silver medal; gold medal will be given to wines with more than 87 points but less than 92.4 and the great gold medal will be given to those with more than 92.5 points.
Just as a curiosity, Portugal is in the 4th place as the country which sent the biggest number of samples. Out of the 520 samples, 88 were primarily made out of the national cast “Touriga Nacional”, normally blended with other casts. Still, Portugal is the country with the biggest variety of casts sent to this world competition.

Well, results come out next Monday and I’ll share them with you as soon as they come out. I’m really curious to know which one is going to win this prestige prize, but also wondering if it’s winery does guided tours: I’d love to you take there on a tour… and a wine tasting, obviously.

Text based on Andre Ribeirinho’s article for “Publico” newspaper.