There are certain drinking-related things you have to do when you go to a country: if you’re in Scotland, you have to drink some Scotch; if you’re in Ireland, you have to drink some Guinness; and when you’re in Porto, you have to have to drink some port wine.
Though if I had any foodie cred left after admitting that I like McDonald’s, I’ll lose it now: I’m just not all that into wine. It’s fine, I guess, but I can’t say I fully understand the appeal.
Still, I decided to get into the port wine spirit; I headed over to the Taylor’s port cellar for a tour (Taylor’s is one of the oldest producers of port wine — they’re currently celebrating their 325th anniversary).
The tour costs 12 Euros, lasts a bit over an hour, and includes two sampling glasses of wine.
It was an interesting enough tour, though the audio guide features more minutia on wine production and the lineage of the various founders of the company than any reasonable person needs. It’s also self-congratulatory almost to the point of parody. But… there’s wine!
Yes, at the end of the tour you wind up in a bar next to some fancy gardens (which includes a peacock just standing around relaxing), and they serve you two glasses of port wine — one white, and one red.
They were… winey? Extremely winey? Actually, no — these were pretty different from any other wines that I’ve tried. They were intensely sweet. The white was comparatively subdued, but the red was pretty much a sugar bomb. It was basically like drinking boozy grape juice. Being less of a fan of wine and more of a fan of things that are sweet, I actually quite enjoyed it.
However, I should admit that I have an absurdly low tolerance for alcohol. For the sake of my dignity, I was going to say that the two glasses of wine left me a bit tipsy, but let’s not mince words; I was full-out drunk. The winding, hilly cobblestone streets that surround the cellar suddenly became treacherous. I didn’t fall over, though there was a mishap involving a sloped sewer grate that could have very easily ended in injury, either physically or to my pride (or, most likely, a bit of both).