Destinations / August 06, 2017. By Paulo Tavares
A port tasting tour is mandatory for wine lovers. But did you know that the port houses and warehouses for storing and shipping port are all located in Vila Nova de Gaia (Gaia) not Porto (after which the wine was named). Gaia is on the opposite riverbank to Porto and the weather conditions and humidity are better on that riverbank. Furthermore, the cost of storing wine was lower in Gaia because they did not pay taxes to Porto’s bishop. Here are our suggestions for some of the best places to stay, visit and eat to suit all budgets.
Perched on a hill in Vila Nova de Gaia, The Yeatman is the place to stay for wine lovers. It has the most comprehensive cellar of Portuguese wines in the world. The wine theme extends to the decoration of the spacious rooms and spa with vine products and therapies. A decanter shaped infinity pool adds to the wow factor. You’ll love the breathtaking views of Porto from the balcony of your room. Seat yourself in the Orangerie Restaurant with open air terrace and let your imagination wander. If you can tear yourself away the port wine cellars are just down the road waiting to be discovered.
A newly renovated hotel in a great location just across the road from Trindade metro station with direct links to the airport and within walking distance of Avenida dos Alidos in the heart of Porto. After settling in make a bee line for Leitaria Quinta do Paço, and order an éclair in your favourite flavour. For dinner there’s Guarany Café where the octopus fillets and rice pair perfectly with the vinho verde.
Step back in time and stay in Grande Hotel do Porto. One of Porto’s oldest hotels is reminiscent of nineteenth century, fin de siécle charm. Great for shopping along the pedestrianised Rua de Santa Catarina, go for coffee in the nearby Majestic Café, one of the most beautiful cafés in the world.
Moov Hotel, Porto Centro with art deco façade was once a cinema and is now a welcoming space in a great location in the heart of Porto, Praça da Batalha. Don’t forget to try the best hotdogs in town at nearby Cervejaria Gazela
A friendly Guest House in Bonfim just east of the city centre. Cosme has four double rooms and three apartments, a free continental breakfast and cosy library stocked with books on Portuguese culture. Not far from A Cozinha do Manel where you can enjoy a memorable meal.
The newly renovated Trait House apartments in Bonfim nearby the Municipal Library are the perfect place to sit back and relax after a hard days exploring the port wine cellars. Not far from Praça dos Poveiros where you can tuck into one of the famous pork sandwiches (sandes de pernil) at Casa Guedes or go for a francesinha at the nearby Café Santiago.
All of the cellars offer different types of tours in several languages. In order to welcome visitors several cellars renovated their interior keeping all the original features. In addition to touring ancient cellars of wine casks and tasting port you can also visit museums, entertain children, listen to music and eat well. This is not a comprehensive list of cellars, but rather a list I’ve put together based on what is unique about each one.
Graham’s 1890 building has always provided an aging warehouse for the brand’s Port wines. The cellar was renovated recently to improve the space. The tour begins in the museum and ends with a Port wine tasting.
Ferreira was established by a family of Douro wine- growers in 1751. The warehouse entrance faces the waterfront. There is an exhibition dedicated to Dona Antónia Ferrira (1811-96) who made a major contribution to the development of Port wine in a society ruled by man. There is also a shop where you can taste and buy wines.
Taylor’s have preserved the atmosphere of ancient times. On the tour you can learn the basics of making Port wine as well as the brand’s history. After passing through the cellars in the old warehouse you can taste the wines including the Taylor’s Chip Dry, (extra dry white, Taylor’s late Bottle Vintage and Taylor’s 10 –year Tawny wines paired with almond and chocolate truffels.
Porto Cruz don’t have a warehouse open to the public. There is a multimedia centre about port where visitors can discover all the different types of Port Cruz and the sensory flavours of each through interactive tables. They also have tasting rooms and workshops and a roof terrace with a 360º view of Porto.
Located on the riverfront, Calem is the cellar closest to the Luis 1 bridge. Those who visit after 6.00pm will be entertained with a Fado performance that lasts about 45 minutes.
I hope this post has inspired you to visit Porto and take a Port wine tour, if you do please share your thoughts in the comments below.