Wines of Portugal

Good Wine Makes a World of Difference

The next best thing to physically being in Portugal is discovering the wines of Portugal.  Lucky me; I was able to attend a grand tasting the other day at the Coast Plaza hotel in Vancouver.  Always a pleasure to discover unfamiliar and delicious tasting wines and meet nice new people.

I’ve tried wines from Portugal before but most of the ones at the “Wines of Portugal” tasting are not yet available for purchase in Canada (or elsewhere in North America for that matter).

I didn’t realize their scope of native grape varieties are so plentiful – 250 different kinds to be exact! 

The prized and distinct grapes are considered a national treasure and have been savoured by generations of Portuguese wine lovers.  Wine drinkers elsewhere in the world will discover fresh new flavours when they sample.

Here are some fun facts:

Portugal is home of the first Demarcated and Regulated wine region in the world – The Douro Valley, now a Unesco World Heritage site.

The Portuguese were the first to bring European wines to the Americas and to Asia.

Love these labels

Portugal has the highest density of native grape varieties in the world.

*Jancis Robinson, in a 13 year tasting, ranked Portuguese red wines the highest.

*(British wine critic, journalist and wine writer. Jancis currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and writes for her website, updated daily. She also provides advice for the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth II).

Portugal was elected for the 3rd consecutive year as “Best Destination in the World” by the World Travel Awards and in total won 39 awards.

The wine region of Lisbon was considered by Wine Enthusiast one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations 2019.

Forbes magazine elected the best wines of 2019 and in its list there are 3 Portuguese wines in the first 12 places.

And of course there’s the PORT:

In Portugal you can even buy Port in convenient size cans.

It’s important to not drink too much on an empty stomach. 

Don’t ask me how I know this

 Luckily the room had plenty of tasty appies to choose from.

For wine enthusiasts this was an excellent event.


Photos: d. king

personally speaking – can I buy an Inexpensive Luxury Wine?


Melee Grenache 2010. Rated 93 points for 24.99. Napa Valley, Ca.  Bought at Costco. 

Let me WINE all I want! This was a long read so I condensed it as much as possible (from an article by Rod Philips ‘Into Wine’) so you get the picture.

Being offered a premium wine for $12 a bottle might sound a bit like being offered some prime swampland at a knock-down price.  Premium has the ring of quality about it, and many people might well think of premium wines as including first-growth Bordeaux and Super Tuscans, wines that often sell for hundreds of dollars a bottle on release, and much more for older vintages.

Reserva 2007 from Spain rated 93 points and a fantastic deal from Costco (in Tucson) for only $9.99.
Reserva 2007 from Spain rated 93 points and a fantastic deal from Costco (in Tucson) for only $9.99.  You just can’t beat that!

Infact, a $12 bottle of premium wine is a common proposition in many wine stores because the world of wine segmentation (the division of wines into categories for marketing purposes) often defies common sense.  Although premium wine sounds like it would be high quality, it is actually the bottom rung of a ladder that has super-premium and ultra-premium above it.  But there are no standard definitions for any of these categories. See guide below.

Categories make these wines sound like the choices you get at the gas station, and they have nothing to do with quality, but all to do with price. Listen to this: a premium wine that over delivers for its price could be of higher quality than some super-premiums.  Now I don’t think that’s the same for gas….just saying so you don’t go filling up your tank with the cheapest quality thinking you’re getting better (but it does make matters confusing).

Luxury  is a word with multiple meanings and connotations, and definitions vary socially and culturally.  Applied to wine, it is no more easily grasped than when applied to other commodities. Still, luxury is gaining currency in the world of wine segmentation, as demonstrated by a panel on “the future of luxury wine” at a recent New York wine exhibition.  Even though it will be deplored by those who resist seeing wine as a commodity akin to other consumer products, luxury seems set to become entrenched as a category within the global wine market.

Tribunal California North Coast Red - bought in Vancouver for $20.00 A delicious tasting wine for great value.
Tribunal California North Coast Red – bought in Vancouver for $20.00 A delicious tasting wine for great value.

General guideline: Lifford wine agency (one major Canadian wine agency), uses $12 to $17 as a guideline for premium; while a study from Australia’s University of Adelaide defines premium as a wine costing $2.50 to $7.50 (U.S.) before tax – between $4 (U.S.) and $12 (U.S.) retail, including tax and markups, in Australia.  Lifford uses $18 – $35 to define super-premium and more than $35 for ultra-premium, while the Australian study sets $12 (U.S.) retail as the starting point for super-premium wines.

I can attest to this because having spent a lot of time in the U.S. (drinking wine of course) I know you can get a damn good bottle for $12 – at Costco or Trader Joe’s no less.

So happy sipping & good CHEERS!

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Photos: Debbie King

Personally speaking – I can’t imagine a world without wine

And I have a good imagination! Have you heard about the prediction – there may be a global wine shortage?  This is ridiculous is it not?  While I’m thinking it can’t be right it does tend to worry me a little bit.

A perfect picnit - russian river valley pinots
A PERFECT picnic – Russian River Valley Pinots – all excellent!

According to Morgan Stanley research there are one million wine producers worldwide but not enough product to keep up with demand.  Are we drinking that much?   According to the CEO of ‘two buck chuck’ we shouldn’t freak out about this apparent wine shortage.

I'd have to take many prisoners & store them somewhere.
I’d have to take many prisoners & store them somewhere.

No day week is complete without a nice relaxing glass of wine…

While I’m no wino I do enjoy a nice glass before making dinner, while cooking, with dinner and sometimes after.   I mean, think about it… in a world without wine:

  • I’d have to cook while drinking martinis – then what would dinner turn out like?
  • Napa Valley would just be hot
  • Cheese would be lonely
  • High school reunions would be unthinkable
  • A night at home watching reruns of Sex and the City would be spent drinking… water
  • Dinner with friends would end as soon as the bill came
  • We’d all realize how totally uninteresting we really are
  • People would have to switch to drinking bourbon and the like (yuck!)  but maybe I should start developing a taste – just in case.

Can you even imagine? Well, until that day let’s all sit back and enjoy a nice glass of pinot.

Taken in part from Christiana’s article for Garance Doré.

**Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw wine — infamously known as “Two-Buck Chuck” — is no longer two dollars after an impressive 11-year run.

The California-based grocery store is officially “upchucking” the cost of its Charles Shaw wine, made largely from California-grown grapes and offered in a wide array of red and white varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. But if you think the days of cheap after-work indulgence are gone, however, don’t rush to drown your sorrows: the price is only going up about 50 cents – retailing at $2.49.

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