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For centuries, Portugal has mainly been known for one wine in particular, but it’s actually home to over 200 indigenous grape varieties. The designation DOC—Denominação de Origem Controlada—remains the highest in Portugal. Today, there are 31 DOC regions in the country, each with strict guidelines to regulate local wine production. Even with a high number of regions for a small country, you'll find that many of the wines made here aren't available out of the country.
That makes Portugal an exciting destination for wine lovers, as it offers a rare opportunity to enjoy wines that aren’t widely distributed. Not to mention Portugal is also home to some of the most uniquely beautiful vineyards in the entire world.
Portugal’s wine really burst onto the international scene in the 17th and 18th centuries when a series of wars between Britain and France forced British merchants to acquire wine from Portugal. Winemaking was nothing new there, it had been practiced since the time of Greek and Celtic settlers.
Viticulture has been practiced here for over 2,000 years. The Douro River starts at Porto on the coast and weaves inland past picturesque hillsides and farms - centuries of winemaking have transformed the hills into steep, terraced vineyards. And you’ll still find charming chapels and villages dotting the landscape.
Portugal’s calling card, Port wine, emerged during a time of increased international trade. Winemakers added a bit of brandy to fortify wine for the longer voyage to Britain. The fortified wine came to be known as Port since the coastal city of Porto was the major shipping center.
Port’s prestige grew in 1757 when Marquês de Pombal, Portugal’s de facto ruler, made the Douro Valley—where Port was produced—the first designated wine region in the world. This protected the quality of the product and ensured that only Port from the Douro region could be classified as Port wine.
Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, lies further south down the coast from Porto. The region just north of the city, Lisboa, stretches along the Atlantic, which makes for a cooler, windy climate that’s ideal for growing sparkling wine grapes. The DOC Óbidos region is particularly famous for its sparkling wines.
Lisboa may not have the global renown of the Douro Valley, but its wines are delightful and affordable. Whether you prefer full-bodied reds (Arruda), light and citrusy whites (Bucelas), or refreshing, low-alcohol whites (Torres Vedras), Lisboa is the ideal destination to taste a range of exciting, inventive Portuguese wines.
The Douro River Valley's beauty and rich history have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage listAll Portugal Trips
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