Here are some of the main wines and liqueurs of Portugal, which are known to most people.
Vihno do Douro and Port are both produced in the Douro wine region. This region is centered around the Douro river in the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro region. It is sometimes referred to as the Alto Douro (upper Douro), as it is located quite a way upstream from Porto.
Port is well known and drunk throughout the world, there is a whole lot of interesting facts about Port that will come in a future article.
Vihno do Douro is a table wine from the Douro wine region. Originally these wines were bitter, but the English started to add Aguardente to the wine to help them survive the long voyage from Portugal to England. The tast of the wine was of course changed, which was the reason for its success. In the 17th century it was already widely exported. Today, Douro wines are very good wines, similar to port wine. Barca Velha is considered to be the best Portuguese wine and one of the best wines in the whole the world. If you fancy trying a bottle of Barca Velha you will need to pay at least 200€ for a 2000 bottle, and over 700€ for a 1964.
Licor Beirão is a popular Portuguese liqueur. It is produced in the region of Beira, from a secret recipe, guarded by its producer, José Carranca Redondo. It’s made from a double distilled exotic herbs and seeds from Malaysia, Brazil and Thailand, which give it a unique bitter taste and deep herbal aroma. It has been produced since the 19th century by a pharmacy in Lousa, initially as a medicine for stomach aches. In 1940 the recipe was bought by José Carranca Redondo. Thanks to his innovative advertising campaign, he drove Beirão to international success after using billboard advertisements for the first time in Portugal.
Ginjinha, also known as Ginja, is a liqueur made from cherry-like ginja berries fermented in brandy. Traditionally, it is served in shots with a fermented cherry on the bottom of the shot glass, it is seen at Obidos festivals served in chocolate cups. Its production was started by the monks of São Domingos convent in Lisbon, who called it Ginjinha. The friar of the Santo António Church, Francisco Espinheira, once conducted an experiment, leaving ginja berries in aguardente and adding sugar, water and cinnamon. That is how the first ginjinha was made. The success was immediate and Ginginha soon became a landmark drink of the capital. Till this day it is the favourite liqueur of many Portuguese in the areas of Lisbon and Obidos.
Madeira is a fortified wine. It derives its name from the Madeira Islands, from where it originated . Madeira ages for several months in special rooms called estufas, where the temperature is much higher than in typical wine cellars. Due to this process Madeira is obtains its deep caramel colour. It appears in four major types: Malvasia, Bual, Verdelho and Sercial. Madeira can be sold either as a vintage wine that has been aged for more than 15 years or more popular blended wine, 3, 5, 10 or 15 years old. Madeira has been the favourite wine of many famous people such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, who supposedly celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence with a glass of this wine.