Last Updated on June 12, 2022
Porto is one of the best destinations in the world to enjoy a glass of fine wine. The city is famous for its wine that’s of the same name: Porto, or Port in the local language. It’s really hard to find bad wine in Porto but the sheer number of options when it comes to wine houses might be overwhelming. That’s why we prepared a list of the top wine houses you can pay a visit to for a Porto wine tasting while you’re in northern Portugal.
How Is Port Wine Made?
Port is a very special wine, not only because it’s very sweet unlike other wines, but also because its production process has remained authentic over time and the wine is still produced manually.
Every September, grapes from the Douro Valley, mostly indigenous varieties, are handpicked for the production of Port. The Douro Valley has very specific conditions for viticulture and boasts a quality of grapes that is virtually impossible to reproduce elsewhere. After the grapes are harvested, they are placed in a treading tank called lagar to be trodden by foot. Foot treading is a traditional method that has been used for centuries in winemaking all across Europe and around the world, from France to the Balkans, and beyond. Nowadays, there are obviously less labor-intensive techniques, like automated production lines, that can do the job well, but the traditional wineries in Porto still stick with this technique. The reason this ancient technique works so well with wine is that the press of a foot is strong enough to peel the skin from the meat of the fruit but at the same time soft enough not to crush the seeds.
When the grapes are ready, they are mixed with some yeast to turn the natural sugars in the grapes into alcohol. Another important feature of Port is that it’s a fortified wine, which means a distilled spirit is added to the wine during the fermentation process, typically brandy, to stop the yeast from turning all the natural sugar in the grapes into alcohol. Meanwhile, the distilled spirit increases the alcohol level in the wine, making it stable, and able to age properly. This is the main difference between Port and other types of still wines.
Best Wine Tasting Stops in Porto
If you’re looking forward to sampling some ports during your visit to Porto, you’re in luck! Many tours allow you to tag along with an expert and visit a whole new world of vineyards and wine houses in the Douro Valley. You can also curate your own tour if you can’t find one that excites you. Just remember one thing — never ever skip the appetizers such as cheese or sardines offered on wine tastings and prepare to be delighted.
Also, we know you won’t skip on tasting Port when you visit Porto. But take our wholehearted recommendation to try other unique wines that are produced in the region such as vinho verdes, bairrada, dão, and colares.
And without further ado, here is a list of the best port lodges and wine bars that you should pay a visit to during your time in Porto.
Best Wine Lodges in Porto
Graham’s is one of the first wine lodges in Porto. They have had their own vineyard in the Douro Valley since 1890, but the family’s occupation of winemaking goes even further back, to the 17th century. Having been invested in the wine business for so long, Graham’s has definitely cultivated important experience in winemaking, something you can taste with the very first sip of their wines.
Before hitting the road to Graham’s, you need to book one of their tasting rooms. There is the Main Tasting Room, where you can enjoy a good deal of their fine wine with an amazing view of the valley. An expert will accompany you throughout your visit to guide you through the specifics of the wines. You can book this room for classic tasting for €18.00. You can also upgrade your tasting booking to premium port tasting, premium tawny tasting, or premium tasting with pairings that include chocolate, cheese, and delicious custard tarts.
There is also the Vintage Room, where you can enjoy a more classy atmosphere while tasting some of their rarest port wines. You can book the Vintage Room starting from €40.00 for the basic package, which includes Single Harvest 1990, Graham’s LBV, and Quinta dos Malvedos. If you are feeling more extravagant, you can upgrade your tasting experience to include Super Premium Tawny, Super Premium Vintage, or Symington Tasting.
Operating Hours: 10:00am – 7:00pm
Address: 141 Agro Road, 4400-003 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Phone Number: +(351) 2-2377-6484
Churchill’s Lodge is another must-visit old-timer in the valley. The winery was established only about 40 years ago, but the owner, Johnny Graham, is a grandchild of the Graham family who has been running Graham’s lodge for over a century. He’s a well-thought winemaker who wanted to part ways with the family to implement his own style of winemaking, and it most definitely worked. You can be sure that when you’re visiting Churchill’s, you’re in the hands of a business with expertise and valuable experience transferred through generations.
Churchill’s is located on a narrow street that’s a little farther away from the busy roads. Don’t let this stop you from making a reservation, though — while the winery is elegant and tranquil, it can get quite busy.
And here you have several options. You can get a guided tour of the facilities with an enologist and taste the regional wines that Churchill’s has to offer, you can book private or group wine tastings, a vineyard, winery tours, or just a rustic lunch with a spectacular view of the valley. The wine tasting tours start from €35.00, but if you have an appetite for finer wines, you can expect to spend a little more.
Operating Hours: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Address: 5 Rei Ramiro Road, 4400-156 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Phone Number: +(351) 2-2370-3641
Quinta do Vallado
Quinta do Vallado is another old-timer estate in the Douro Valley. The winery was established in 1716 on the banks of the Corgo River, but it wasn’t until 1993 that they started to produce, bottle, and market their own label wine. Today the establishment owns around 10 hectares of vineyards, with some of the wines on offer being as old as a hundred years.
For a full wine-and-dine experience, you can book a stay at the Quinta do Vallado Wine Hotel or at the Casa do Rio Hotel, both of which offer picturesque views over the vineyards and make an excellent basecamp for exploring the Douro Valley. If you do so, you’ll also get the chance to taste traditional Portuguese dishes prepared with organic ingredients from the gardens in the valley, offered by the Casa do Rio restaurant.
There is a guided wine tasting every day at 5:00 pm at Quinta do Vallado. Apart from that, the lodge offers activities such as picnics, boat tours, jeep tours, walking trails, bicycle tours, and even a fishing program. If you’re looking for the complete Douro experience, we strongly recommend Quinta do Vallado.
Operating Hours: All day
Address: Vilarinho dos Freires, 5050-364 Peso da Régua, Portugal
Phone Number: +(351) 2-5431-8081
Despite being a new-generation wine producer, Quevedo is a family business that has a lot of experience in winemaking. They grow and harvest their grapes from different properties under different conditions, thus, they are able to work with varying types of grapes and varying flavors and aromas.
Their tasting offers start from €10.00 per person and goes up to €25.00. Apart from the delicious wine, they give you an opportunity to pair your wine with delectable treats such as chocolate, fruit, cheese, or jam. You can also book a tour to go around the facilities with a specialized guide.
Operating Hours: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Address: 77 Santa Marinha Road, 4400-291 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Phone Number: +(351) 2-2371-0412
Quinta de la Rosa
Like most of the long-standing establishments in the Valley, Quinta de la Rosa is a family-owned estate situated on a hillside gazing over the Douro river. The estate is famous for its ports, red, white, and green wines, and olive oils.
The establishment boasts a charming hotel with amazing scenery and a promise for the complete Douro experience. Of course, you can have a guided tour around the facility and a wine tasting session. But what makes Quinta de la Rosa truly stand out is its restaurant, boasting a sophisticated menu that incorporates (and elevates) traditional Portuguese dishes and old family recipes made with local products directly from the garden. Plus, we guarantee that you’ll love the scenery from the terrace of this establishment.
Their wine tasting tours start from €20.00 and allow you to walk around the facility and experience the wine-making process firsthand. And if you are also feeling peckish, you can book a Visit & Lunch, which entails amuse bouche, a main course, and a dessert, along with some excellent White Port, Dourosa red, Quinta de la Rosa Red, and LBV port.
Operating Hours: All-day
Address: 5085-215 Covas do Douro, Portugal
Phone Number: +(351) 2-5473-2254
How to Taste Wine?
If you’re preparing for your first wine tasting experience ever, it’s excellent that you’ll do it in Porto. But we have a few tips for you that will hopefully prepare you to enjoy your wine tasting even more.
When you’re tasting a wine for the first time, the main thing is to pay attention to the wine on the first sip, and then keep a mental checklist of the characteristics of the wine.
Look at the Wine
When it comes to the mechanics of tasting, there are a few things to do whenever you’re trying a new wine. First, look at the color. A white background will make it easier to understand if your red wine is translucent or opaque. Or if your white wine is completely white or has that golden tint that’s associated with aging.
Smell the Wine
After looking at the wine, the next thing you do is swirl the glass to increase its surface area, which increases its evaporation and amplifies the smells.
Taste the Wine
After smelling the wine, it’s time to take a nice sip. Take a sip that’s a little more than you would sip when you drink socially, and slosh it around in your mouth so the wine hits all your taste buds. This will give you a much stronger impression of the flavor and its main notes, such as sweetness, acidity, or fruitiness.
Feel the Wine
Once you swallow the wine, pay attention to the feeling inside your mouth. Different wines with different alcohol levels also have different textures. A more alcoholic wine will feel fuller-bodied white wines with a lower alcohol content will feel sheerer and lighter in your mouth.
When you’re tasting wine, you go through four senses. Look at the wine to take note of its color and how translucid it is, swirl and sniff it, sip and savor it, and lastly, retain an awareness of how it feels in your mouth after you swallow it.
But, most importantly, remember that these are some basic guidelines that can help you improve your wine tasting experience, but that, ultimately, you don’t need to sweat it too much. At the end of the day, the goal is to enjoy your time while tasting some of the finest and most famous wines in the world.
Enjoy Your Time in Porto!
Douro Valley is where sweet Port wine comes from. Thanks to its special location and climate, the grapes that grow in the valley are perfect for winemaking. This has made wine a true specialty of the region, something the whole valley is celebrated for, by locals and tourists alike. Portugal’s number one export product has been port and other wines for over centuries. So when you visit Porto, we think visiting Douro Valley is a must to take a sip (or a couple of bottles) of this special wine.