Opening a bottle of vintage port requires a deft hand and special tools - port tongs and a decanter. The port tongs are heated over open flame or set in coals until red hot. They are then applied gently to the neck of the bottle below the cork and held there for 30-45 seconds. Then they are removed and an ice cube or ice cold water is applied to the neck of the bottle. A crack is heard and the top of the bottle with the cork intact is removed - no shards of glass occur with this method. Then the port is decanted, sometimes through linen stopping when sediment is observed. The sediment is featured in this photo with the bottle top and cork along side.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
There are several locks on the Douro, the largest of which has a gradient differential of 35 metres, just over 100 feet. The rate of ascent is about 1.8 metres per minute, so the trip up takes about 17 minutes. There is about 30 centimetres clearance either side of the ship and the captain negotiates the entrance to the lock manually. Although he has an iPhone on the bridge plugged into a laptop so he may just sit there while an iPhone app does the real work. Note that our ship - the Queen Isabel - has a helipad should something go terribly wrong. So far so good.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Remember Mateus? The Portuguese sparkling rose that was popular in the the late 70's? Well this the palace at Mateus that is featured on the label. I always wondered how to pronounce it; some folks would say 'ma-toose'; other would say 'ma-Tay-oose' or some other way, but the correct way to say it is 'ma-tay-oosh'. So now you know!
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Moscatel de Favaios is lovely stuff, photographed here amongst the vineyards from which it originates. In Portuguese the 's' at the end of Favaios is pronounced as 'sh', and the first syllable is 'fav' not 'fave'. And they speak fast 'round these parts so if you follow these pronunciation guidelines and talk like you're in a rush you'll get along fine here along the Douro.
Monday, May 27, 2013
Porto is home to , what else, Port Wine. The city itself is very photogenic and the production of port wine is one of the oldest controlled appellations in the world. It's also a very hilly city, maybe you can get a sense of this in today's post made with the iPhone Hipstamatic app.