One of the great attractions of Portugal is its superb selection of wine. The choice is outstanding, bewildering even.
Portugal’s wine regions span the length and breadth of the country. Furthermore, Portugal has its own unique grape varieties, and many wines are blended from these different grapes to produce exceptional labels of world-class quality.
The opportunity of tasting some of these wines is a tantalizing prospect for any connoisseur. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to travel far to do so, and it won’t cost a penny either.
A ViniPortugal staff member prepares a wine tasting session at the Sala Ogival de Lisboa. — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
Visitors to Lisbon can indulge in free wine tasting at the elegant Sala Ogival de Lisboa, a wonderful vaulted showroom operated by ViniPortugal and located Terreiro do Paço (also known as Praça do Comércio) in the city’s Baixa district.
ViniPortugal is the trade body that promotes Portuguese wines throughout the country and abroad. Locals and tourists are invited to drop by the salon every hour between 11am and 7pm from Tuesday to Saturday for a convivial half hour with like-minded individuals when the palette is subjected to earthy, full-bodied reds, crisp, fruity whites and the occasional light, aromatic Vinho Verde.
A team of young, enthusiastic staff takes it in turns to unveil the wines, chosen from three different regions and offered by producers through their respective regional winegrowing commissions. The selection changes each month but usually includes a wine from the Douro region in the north of the country, and an example from the Alentejo, in central south Portugal. Presentations are chatty and informal, and visitors’ opinions are welcomed.
Several of the wines are available for sale and make great souvenirs, especially when the bouquet is still fresh on the palate.