Stuart Forster reports on the free wine tasting at Vini Portugal in Lisbon.
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It’s true, you really can sample a selection of Portuguese wines for free at the Vini Portugal wine tasting room on the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon’s central Baixa district.
This may sound too good to be true but, rest assured, there is no catch. Nobody asks for donations nor do the staff members pressure you into buying wine.
Wine at the Praça do Comércio
The spacious Vini Portugal wine tasting room is located on the western side of the grand waterfront square, in a building that dates from the mid-eighteenth century. A handful of old machines from wineries are displayed in the smartly refurbished vaulted room with a polished marble floor.
A map of Portugal’s wine regions is displayed on the back wall to help newbies gain an overview of the geography of Portuguese wine producing regions.
Many newcomers are surprised that Portugal offers much more than just rosé and Port wine. The climate, soil and range of grape varietals planted throughout the country means Portuguese wines vary enormously in character and complexity. The best are very good indeed and offer remarkable value for wine lovers.
The Alentejo and Palmela
If you enjoy heavy reds then ask to try a selection of wines from the country’s sun-rich Alentejo region. If you like wine with understated complexity then go for some of those from around Palmela on the Setubal Peninsula. Palmela was designated the European City of Wine 2012.
You’ll see bottles from around the country on display and for sale. The tastings tend to provide you with an opportunity to try three or four wines. This might include a sweet Moscatel or even one of the Vinho Verde (young ‘green wine’, from the country’s north).
Long hours of sunshine help give Portuguese white wines a lot of sugar. Many wine drinkers in the country will urge you to try a wine produced from the verdelho varietal, which many Australian wine producers have begun favouring.
Wine from around Portugal
Tastings at Vini Portugal give an opportunity for producers from around the country to showcase their work. You might be fortunate and try some top quality wines, you may be served a fairly standard wine.
Vini Portugal is open from 11am to 7pm from Tuesday to Saturday. During busy periods the timings of tastings are displayed on the door but if you turn up in the middle of the week or early on a Saturday it’s likely you’ll have the chance to enjoy an individual tasting, giving you more of an opportunity to ask questions about the wines you’re sampling.
Vini Portugal is worth a look and its location at one of Lisbon’s best known squares means it is easy to reach. Also, if you enjoy wine and are interested in purchasing a bottle or two, look out for the special offers of wines on promotion.
See the Vini Portugal website.
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