By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises
Our penultimate port of call on this cruise is Porto, not the most famous of places in Portugal.
It is, literally, the Second City of Portugal, its second-most-populous place with 1.8 million people in the metropolitan area.
Porto has always been a mercantile city, and this is evident in the style of the buildings lining the Avenida dos Aliados, the core of the downtown area. The center of town, unlike other major Portuguese cities, which tend towards the baroque, is granite and monumental.
Lisbon is the grand city of palaces and monasteries and monuments and a metropolitan population of about 2.8 million, and it lies ahead of us.
Porto, well, it’s a place of broad shoulders and hard work, in some ways the economic heart of the country.
The city is located along the Douro river estuary.
Its settlement dates back many centuries, when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Its combined Celtic-Latin name, Portus Cale, is said by some historians to be the source of the name “Portugal.”
We’ll celebrate tonight with a glass of fine Port after dinner.
Port Wine is named for Porto, and in particular the caves of Vila Nova de Gaia.
The reaches of the valley of the Douro River have a microclimate that is optimal for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes.
Vinho do Porto is a fortified wine, typically a sweet red wine although there are also dry, semi-dry, and white varieties.
The wine is fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente in order to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content, usually to about 19 to 23 percent.
The Douro valley where port wine is produced was defined and established as a protected region, or appellation in 1756, making it by some measures the oldest defined and protected wine region in the world.
Text and images copyright 2015 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.