The country of Portugal, nestled along Spain’s western border, is somewhat distanced, physically, relative to the European wine scene. But this country’s long-standing, rich relationship with the grape and the culture of winemaking has been percolating for thousands of years and is bubbling towards the surface of international stardom.
31 different DOCs (Denominação de Origem Controlada) and 14, distinct, “Vinhos Regionales” dot Portugal’s wine landscape from north to south. WBC14 Grand sponsor, Wines of Portugal, will be showcasing this country’s breadth and depth during the Friday, July 11 Brunch, Discover Portugal: Influences Around the World.
With over 250 native varietals, Portugal is not confined to “any one thing” in the world of wine, although many people identify Portugal’s wine-making prowess with Port wines and for a good reason – Portuguese wines were given preferential treatment by the British and over French wines in the early 18th Century, when these fortified wines were wildly popular in Britain. The popularity of Port led to the Douro being established in 1756 as the oldest, demarcated and regulated wine appellation in the world (the French AOC system, for reference, was formally established in the 1930’s).
Portugal’s centuries-old, global domination of the Port market and influence over British consumers in the 18th Century speaks to it’s historical influences, in general. Beginning in the early 1400’s, Portuguese explorers set off to far corners of the world to seek gains in the world of agriculture, spices, and gold, among many commodities. The Portuguese Empire, which spanned hundreds of years, encompassed what we now identify as 53 different sovereign states. By the late 1400’s, Portugal’s ocean-going skills allowed them to explore places that other countries were scrambling to get to and in 1498, explorer Vasco de Gama reached India after sailing around the southern tip of Africa. This sea route helped Portugal control the Indian spice market and establish bases at Mozambique and Zanzibar on the east African coast.
We are all aware of the Portuguese colonization of Brazil but the Portuguese Empire also had defining moments in Japan, China, Indonesia, Angola and Guinea as well. The Portuguese influence, overshadowed by Spain’s accidental discovery of the Americas, is encountered all over the globe. The “cross-pollination” of foods and flavors as referenced by “Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters” author, Cherie Hamilton, can be found throughout the world. Tempura, the signature dish of Japan, was introduced by Portuguese missionaries in the mid-1600’s. And Portugal’s establishments on the west coast of India brought new influences from their control of the European-Asian spice trade; the chilis used in traditional Goan cuisine, for example, were introduced by the Portuguese and remain an essential ingredient in southern India’s much loved dishes.
Wines of Portugal represents their country’s winemaking heritage at the Wine Bloggers Conference at the Discover Portugal: Influences Around the World brunch on Friday, July 11 from 10-11:45 am. This brunch is a fantastic opportunity to discover the rich, cultural and epicurean landscape of Portugal’s worldly travels. Nosh on a selection of Portuguese influenced dishes expertly paired with a selection of distinctive, indigenous varieties that showcase the range and diversity of the region’s wines.
Challenge your senses and enjoy a world of difference at this can’t-miss event.