Wine Club Newsletter - October 2017
Musings on Lisbon, Portugal
By: Gary Parker
This year, our annual WineSellar Wine Tour has taken us to the country of Portugal. We’ve sold out two groups, and invite you to join us next year, as we consider South Africa, Chile, or Sicily. For more information, please feel free to email me personally at email@example.com. OK, commercial break is over now.
Upon our arrival in Lisbon, we were greeted by 80 degree weather, with a penetrating sun. The shade, as well as the breeze blowing off the Tagus River, was most welcoming.
Lisbon itself was devastated by a huge earthquake with subsequent fires and a tsunami in 1755, which leveled over 90% of the buildings in the city. An aggressive rebuilding campaign saw the city structures rising once again, and the continuous style of architecture reflects that era.
Walking around the city center, you will discover small shops, many restaurants, monuments, and museums, essentially begging you to spend a few days discovering this famous port city. As you endeavor to discover areas along the city edges, you will find the walking a bit more challenging, as streets elevate a couple hundred feet or more.
Adding to the strain are the cobblestone walkways, which can be quite narrow, especially when vehicles want to share the same path as yours. However, you will be rewarded for your efforts, as the tour and views, especially from the Castelo St. George, are stunning with 360 degree views for miles.
We stayed at the Palace Avenida Hotel, a four star hotel in the city center. From there, it was a quick walk down to the Tagus River waterfront, which has miles of walkways through industrial zones, historical points of interest, and of course, restaurants.
Along the river I am reminded somewhat of our own San Diego harbor. The natural beauty of the area of is blighted by industrial commerce, somewhat like San Diego’s harbor/shipyard south of the Coronado Bridge. Bringing some familiarity, Lisbon has a bridge identical to the famed “Golden Gate”, yet the surrounding oil and gasoline related structures along the banks seem to be out of place, given the locale. I understand those needs, but hope someday both these areas can be restored to a more natural and appropriate landscape.
Among the global board of competitive epicurean centers, Lisbon ranks high in my book. For excellent seafood, very fresh oysters, clams, salmon, octopus and sea bass are prepared in both classic and contemporary fashions. Every restaurant I visited seemed to burst with pride over their preparations and the bounty they have to draw upon.
One particular fish is omnipresent, salted cod. Long a staple in Portuguese cuisine, I cannot recall any one of the twenty restaurants I visited not having served this fish in some way or another. While it is not my favorite way of having seafood, a visitor must try it for reference.
No matter what seafood you select to eat, you’ll find the crisp, dry, mineral-laden white wines perfectly match the offerings. They are typically inexpensive, yet provide unique flavors and characters, as I found varietals such as Albariño, Encruzado, Arinto, and Fernao Pires a joy to have on the table.
The Portuguese do love to BBQ, and I really loved the various pork and beef dishes with red wines made from Touriga Nacional (Portugals finest red varietal), Trincadeira, Trina Roriz, Castelao, and Touriga Franca.
Wonderful climate, world class wine and foods, to be sure. English is spoken everywhere, and tourists are a welcomed commodity. Put Lisbon on your bucket list, and expect me to be bringing our WineSellar wine club members a couple of my best finds to your door.