I am passionate about port – as in wine not ships. It is the most luxurious, luxuriant, soul-caressing drink ever invented. Now the cynic might say, yeah, that’s because it is high in alcohol (typically 18%). If I just wanted to get pissed I could knock back any spirit with an even higher alcohol content. The alcohol contributes to its creamy, velvety, lush texture but then so do many other components.
Port was first made in Portugal in the 17th century and Porto is still the Mecca for all aficionados. I have been privileged to visit Porto several times including tasting ports along the waterfront precinct that was historically the port (pardon the pun!) from which ports were shipped overseas. Today it is a tourist area with many original cellars still complete with huge oak vats proudly coupled with tramped earthen floors.
To walk into one of these and have your nasal passages assailed by the damp, dank, musty, earthy, spirity smell that pervades all old cellars speaks volumes of bygone eras and practices. On my first visit to one of these, the aroma invoked such an intense gut-reaction that instantly I burst into uncontrolled tears. Why, for heaven’s sake? That smell was the trigger for some deeply held emotions. But from whence did these come in an Aussie gal who’d never been to Oporto before in her life…??
To be continued…