I strongly feel that a visit to the port wine cellars is a mandatory activity during any trip to Porto. You can find a large selection of wine cellars located across the river from the old city center of Porto and to get there you only need to cross the emblematic Dom Luís I bridge (on the lower level).Once we reached Nova de Gaia riverside, the port wineries already awaited visitors on the street. We went straight to the Sandeman Cellar, as it seemed like a “must go” kind of place, especially for its mysterious logo figure. Is located in a beautiful old building overlooking the river and offers different guided tours so anyone can get a nice introduction to the port wine!
Once we passed through the doors, there was a group already waiting beside the tickets desk. A thing that I noticed is that most attractions in Porto haven’t adapted yet to the high tourism demands and lines are long and slow. So arm yourself with patience!
Fortunately, we went in April, not in full season, so we only waited for about 20 minutes.
There were different price brackets depending on how many glasses of port you wish to taste at the end. We went for the “Classic Tour” of 12 € /pers and had 2 glasses included. The tour is very informative (for some wine newbies like us) and the guides are outfitted in the famous Sandeman cape and wide brimmed hat! The atmosphere of the cellar really humbles you, as you see the casks and old bottles lying around and scent the aroma of old Port everywhere. All of these aided by the theater provided by the guide and I guarantee you a great experience!
Although we were a group, our tour of the cellars was personal and very interesting. We enjoyed finding out the process of aging the wine, how it is made; stored; bottled and sold.
Arriving to the tasting part, we were taken to a private room, very nicely decorated, and 2 wines were presented to us. The quality I would say, without being an expert, was very good; we were explained the best order to drink them to properly enjoy the flavors.
I must say that the Sandeman wines (as most Porto wines) are stronger and sweeter than your average wine and probably go along well with a dessert.
A gift shop adds the final touch to a tour well worth doing. It has an interesting selection of Port as well as other related items, including Port wine chocolates.
Some good gift ideas here. Nevertheless, I found it rather expensive .
Some might say that the Sandeman tour is a bit too rushed (will take about 30-40 minutes) and the information too general but for us it was perfect, as we are no wine experts, neither overly passionate about the subject. We learned the basics, tasted some nice wine and visited a beautiful winery. Exactly what was expected!
Bear in mind also that you are going to visit a cellar, which is meant to be naturally cold, so make sure you bring something to keep you warm otherwise the trip will not be so pleasant in the end!
Any wine passionate out there? What do you think about the Port Wine?