WINES AND CUISINE

Portugal is one of the world’s largest wine producers and exporters. The country’s winegrowing dates far back to the different peoples who lived there many centuries before Portugal became a nation. Today, it is a very modern, solid, structured sector that enjoys institutional protection and a worldwide reputation. It has its own national brand, Wines of Portugal. Portugal was the world’s ninth largest exporter in volume and value in 2018. Production increased in 2019, which was not the case with the other world producers.

There are 13 wine-producing regions, which cover practically the entire country from the coast to the interior, including the islands. The best-known Portuguese wines around the world are from the Douro, Alentejo and Madeira regions, which are terroirs with their own climates and cultures, unique grape varieties and magnificent landscapes. The Douro region not only has many wines of origin, but also produces the incomparable port. It is the oldest regulated winegrowing region in the world. Its landscape — Alto Douro Vinhateiro — has been classified as a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage site. The vineyard landscape on Pico Island in the Azores has been awarded the same classification.

The Alentejo Portugal region also produces some of the best Portuguese wines, while Madeira has a fortified wine that has been exported since the mid-eighteenth century. Two of the most appreciated wine brands in the world (Drinks International magazine) are from Douro and Alentejo.

Portugal also boasts a unique wine that is not produced anywhere else in the world, Vinho Verde, which is produced exclusively in its demarcated region in the north of the country. Global exports totalled 803 million euros in 2018, which was more than in 2017. More than 100 countries on all continents are markets for Portuguese wines, headed in value by Port. Portuguese wines are constantly winning awards in international competitions organised by countries such as France, Germany, China, Japan and the United States. In 2019, Wine & Spirits (United States) awarded prizes to five Portuguese producers for the overall performance of their brands. Portugal has a substantial, burgeoning, highly qualified wine tourism sector. It is promoted by producers and often includes on-site accommodation at wineries that promote not only wine but also regional cuisine.

Portugal’s wines are inseparable from its cuisine, one of the richest in the world. It is based on the Mediterranean diet, inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and considered to be the healthiest and most complete diet in the world.

Portugal is known for having the best fish in the world, thanks to its age-old relationship with the sea and fishing. It is also one of the world’s largest producers of olive oil. The country’s interior is rich in pastures and each region produces top-quality DOP meat from native species.

Portugal is the world’s largest consumer of dried cod, which is reflected in the country’s rich national and regional dishes. The northern region also boasts a culinary tradition of freshwater fish, with some devoted followers. What with fresh fish and shellfish, beef, pork and kid cooked in countless ways, a wide variety of regional fruit and vegetables, cured cheeses and smoked sausage, each region in Portugal has its own culinary culture based on tradition and customs. There are iconic national and regional dishes, many of which are on the itinerary of international foodie tours. Portugal has a very rich tradition of sweetmeats based on centuries-old artisanal production by nunneries— convent sweetmeats – and fantastic grass-roots and regional sweets and desserts. Portugal produces unique mountain cheeses, among others, and cured sausage from the north, centre and Alentejo. There are currently 26 restaurants in Portugal with Michelin stars.

Portuguese cuisine and wines are assets that, together with the climate, natural resources and quality of life, attract more and more foreign tourists and residents to Portugal.

Text written in Q1 2020. Sources: Sources: Associação de Municípios Portugueses de Vinho. www.ampv.pt; BestGuide. www.bestguide.pt; Comissão De Viticultura Da Região Dos Vinhos Verdes. www.vinhoverde.pt; Direção Geral do Património Cultural. www.patrimoniocultural.gov.pt; Infovini. www.infovini.pt; Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros. www.portaldascomunidades.mne.pt; RTP. www.rtp.pt; Turismo de Portugal. www.turismodeportugal.pt; UNESCO www.en.unesco.org; Wines or Portugal. www.viniportugal.pt