My experience with Portuguese wines has been limited at
best. It’s not a wine region that we have covered extensively in my wine
classes thus far, and besides Port and Vinho Verde I really haven’t had much
opportunity to taste wines from this county. Even The Wine Bible, by Karen MacNeil,
which has become my go-to resource when I want to learn more about an
area, focuses primarily on Port – covering the non-fortified wines in just a
That’s why I was thrilled to get an invite to a seminar on
Portuguese wine by Sommelier Christopher Sealy
at Midfield Wine Bar.
which started with a seminar and tasting and ended with a dinner and wine
pairings, was a deep dive into the table wines of Portugal and an incredible learning
Sealy started off with a seminar covering the history,
geography and terroir of Portuguese wines.
The event, which was sponsored by Vini Portugal
of Portugal), was an effort to increase awareness of Portuguese wines,
especially among restaurants and agents. I felt, as I often do, incredibly out
of my league in terms of overall wine knowledge, but also fantastically
grateful to have been included. I know that it was a rare treat to learn so
much about a region in the company of those with far more wine experience than
The first tasting flight was done blind and Sealy asked us
to pick out the wine we thought was not from Portugal. This resulted in a lively
discussion amongst our team, who thought that the wine with the buttered
popcorn on the nose and rich, oaky palate was the least likely to be
Portuguese. Turns out, we were wrong – that wine was 100% Antao Vaz and was
indeed Portuguese – as were all the wines in the flight. Sealy’s deception was
a worthwhile one, as it really highlighted misconceptions we might have had
about what a Portuguese wine tastes like.
The next flight wasn’t blind, but it was still fascinating.
I found all three flights to be a unique experience, as there were so few
grapes I had ever tried before. I was also very impressed by the Portuguese
Syrah that we tried. This is not a grape that I associated with Portugal
before this tasting, but it was a star player in two of my favourite reds of
Since I started my wine education, I’ve found that the
opportunity to taste a large selection of a country or region’s wines has been
invaluable. It can be so hard to really understand the characteristics of an
area’s wines without tasting a considerable amount of the wines from there. In
this case, while we only tasted through twelve, they were so new to me that I
was able to really grasp how they compared to other similar styles I’ve tried.
I was impressed by the diversity and also the qualities of these wines – the
great minerality and acidity in the whites and the rich, complexity of the
reds. While not every wine was one I’d want to have again, there were some
fabulous picks at each price point.
This event was also special because it ended with an
opportunity to try some of the delicious selections from Midfield’s menu with
Portuguese wines. It’s really nice to be able to judge how a wine will stand up
with food and many tastings don’t offer a really substantive opportunity to do
this. Sealy, who is a co-owner of Midfield, truly understands the importance of
wine as an accompaniment to a meal.
I was thrilled to be included in this event. Even though I tend to be the quiet one at these tastings (a shocking fact
to those who know me), I love any opportunity to listen to those who understand
wine discuss it. I learned so much from Sealy, from those on my team and from
everyone in the room who was willing to share their opinions. A great event
with a fantastically well-considered format.
Learn more about the Wines of Portugal here: http://www.viniportugal.pt/en/HomePage
Interested in trying some of the wines we tasted? These ones should be available via the LCBO (or will be soon):
1. Mar da Palha- Quinta da Chocapahla - Syrah / Touriga VR Lisboa $18
2. Character Pintas - Wine and Soul - Douro DO $27
3. Chryeaia - Prats and Symington - Douro DO $75
4. Nostalgia - Quinta Touquinheira? - Vinho Verde DO $22
Dao Branco Reserva - Alvaro Castro - Dao DO $16