You can walk into a bar in Portugal and order tapas, and you’ll get something, but it’s not a tapa. You’ll likely get an eye roll from the wait staff and then you’ll order off the petisco menu. Both tapas and petiscos are smaller versions of what might be served as an entree, but get your tapas in Spain and your petiscos in Portugal. Get your travel plans in order with help from GetAway Travel!
What exactly are they?
Petiscos (pe-tea-sh-cos) are smaller plates of traditional dishes. They cost less than an entree and are made to be shared or “picked at” while you enjoy a beverage. They are small enough that you can have three or four before a meal and not feel stuffed.
They let you try a variety of dishes at one setting. They differ by region which is also helpful when you are tasting your way across the country. You will likely see more seafood options along the coast and petiscos in the central and east will likely be more meat and cheese oriented.
Petisco bars are called petisqueiras. Their petiscos offerings can be widely different, from plain bread and olives to creative and tasty octopus salads. Bars, especially the bars in Porto, Portugal, have full menus of petisco options and they vary by establishment. Some of them are very rich, so a glass of beer or wine goes down easy!
Port wine is to Portugal as Champagne is to France. Each of those spirits have to be prepared using strict guidelines and their ingredients have to be sourced from a certain area. The only sparkling wine that can be called Champagne must come from the Champagne Wine Region of France and the only wine that can be labeled “Port” has to be from the Douro Valley of Portugal.
Whether you are a port person or a champagne connoisseur, GetAway Travel can construct a trip for you. We’re working on a port-forward trip right now! It takes you to the Douro Valley and it’s aboard a fabulous modern ship designed for river cruising.
What’s all the fuss about location?
The narrow Douro Valley has its own microclimate which makes it the optimal area to produce grapes used in port. In the 1700s, Portugal’s prime minister took measures to distinguish the specific area of the Douro Valley as being the only area where true port could be produced. It set production standards, the same way there are standards set for only some sparkling wines to be known as champagne.
Port Casks aging at Offley
The unique aspect of the valley is that the soil as well as the terraced vineyards, were transformed by hand. The vineyard owners worked the soil to produce specific grapes and the terraces were set up to retain water as well as drain water if needed. More than 80 types of grapes are produced in the valley. Many of the vineyards have to still harvest by hand because of the way they are set up.
Port wine must be at least two years old before it can be sold to the public and producers are only allowed to sell 30% of what they make so there is always port wine aging with producers. The port “winters” in the valley in barrels or kegs because that type of climate helps the fortifying agent mix with the wine. It then is moved to Porto (where it gets its name) because the humid, mild climate there is better for continued aging.
Port tasting in Porto
Tell me more about port
Port wine is not a chugging wine, it’s a sipping wine most often served with dessert or even as a dessert. It is considered the most delicious dessert wine on the planet!
It is a fortified wine (more on that later) and it is richer, sweeter, heavier and higher in alcohol content than normal wines. It has an alcohol content somewhere between 19 and 20%. Heady stuff, but it goes great with fine cheeses and rich desserts.
There are two main kinds of port, ruby and tawny.
Ruby is slightly less sweet than tawny and it has berry and chocolate undertones. Tawny has caramel and nut nuances, but aged tawny can also have undertones of graphite, hazelnut, almond, butterscotch and graham cracker.
There’s also white port, rose port and vintage port. Vintage port is rare, it is made from the best grapes of a single type of grape. Port houses declare a port wine as “vintage” only a few times in a decade.
very old Vintage Port
Do they still stomp the grapes?
Yes, yes they do — and here’s why. Those bitter seed nibs in grapes do nothing to add to the taste of port and feet stomping the grapes slide over the seeds and they can be drained out later. Some vineyards do employ mechanical feet machines to crush the grapes and they cross their fingers not a lot of the seeds get crushed.
The harvested grapes, all picked in one day, are put in granite treading tanks and stomped to release the juice and the pulp from the skins. It is a synchronized process to make sure all of the grapes get crushed. When that is done and the skins are floating to the top of the tanks, the treading continues to keep moving the skins under the juice so fermentation starts. When about half of the natural sugar has fermented, the treading stops and the skins are allowed to sit on the top of the tank and the juice is drained out. The wine is then fortified with a distilled grape spirit called brandy. The sugar turns to alcohol and that’s where the high alcohol content happens.
View from Taylor tasting room in Porto
Tell me more!
Drink port with rich cheeses like bleu cheese, chocolate and caramel desserts, salted and smoked nuts and even sweet, smoky meats. You can add it to chocolate cakes or chocolate sauces and it can be simmered to a thick sauce, similar to a balsamic glaze.
Rosé port should be served ice cold. It’s very trendy to serve it cold in the summer with a twist of lime.
White port should be served cold, tawny port should be cool, like about 50 to 58° Fahrenheit and ruby should be served at cellar temperature which is about 60°. Port should be stored on its side and set upright about 24 hours ahead of serving and decanted if possible. The shelf life of port is about halfway between wine and liquor.
We could talk about port all day, but we’d rather you learn more on a trip to the Duoro Valley. Contact us about that trip, or any other fabulous trip you’ve been thinking about. We can be reached at:(262) 538-2140, e-mail: email@example.com
We have 2 exciting European Group GetAways scheduled for 2017. They may both be cruises, but they are completely different!
First up is the Wines of Western Europewhich includes Bordeaux (France), Basque (Spain) and Portugal. Our group will be sailing aboard the luxurious Azamara Journey. Azamara Club Cruises is at the crossroads of where luxury and destination immersive cruising meet. This ship only holds 694 passengers and has a wonderful mix of amenities. She’s a perfect-sized vessel: small enough that it’s never too far from one place to another, yet large enough to provide variety on long itineraries. On our trip we will experience late evening and overnight port stays. The Journey was completely refurbished in 2016 – it received new spa suites in the fully renovated Sanctum spa with updated decor in marble, light wood and a cream palate. Every suite and stateroom has new beds with the same decor scheme, and the restaurants also received a modern upgrade.
Our 12 Night GetAway begins in Southampton England on September 4 and ends in Lisbon Portugal on September 16. Along the way you will experience the worlds foremost wine region in Bordeaux, spend a day at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, wash Tapas down with Rioja wine, and sip port in the Douro Valley – and so much more. You can find more details at our website. We hope you can join us.
If you’re tired of commercialism taking over the holidays, you will be very pleased with the traditions and romance of real Christmas markets where the gifts are not mass-produced but craftwork of real quality. Our group will begin in Budapest and sail along the Danube while visiting Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany. Every stop along the way will feature special Christmas Market excursions. You can find more details on the itinerary at our website.
Every Uniworld ship is as unique as it’s itinerary and the SS Maria Theresa is no exception. It’s opulent 18th century décor is a floating homage to one of the Habsburg empires most beloved ruler. The food, drink and service on Uniworld are absolutely outstanding – and everything is included! Call now as there are limited time promotions where even the air is included!
European vacations continue to hold great value. The US Dollar remains at historic low levels vs. the Euro. This is good news for travelers to Europe as you definitely get more bang for your buck. Our best advice for Europe is to plan ahead – this is not a destination that typically rewards the last-minute traveler. The best way to start planning your European vacation is to schedule a consultation with Sue.
River Cruising continues to grow and for very good reasons. Our clients absolutely love to take River Cruises. All it takes is to try it once and you will rave about it forever. Be aware however that not all river cruise companies are equal. You can research endlessly on your own, or you can call us to discuss. Our goal is to find out about what you want to do, how adventurous you are, what you like and what you don’t like. What are your travel dreams? Our recommendations are simply based on you and your needs, that’s it.
All Inclusive vacations will remain hot, hot, hot. The industry continues to upgrade old properties and build new ones. There are All-Inclusives for all tastes and budgets. Well we know you want a warm weather, beach destination, but are you looking for a romantic escape or a family/multi-generational getaway? Do you want basic dining choices or a more gourmet experience? How does a canopy covered bed and open air shower sound? Or a private plunge pool within mere steps of your suite? The choices go on and on. We can help narrow it down to something you will love.
According to the experts, air ticket prices are down but add-on fees are up. The simple fact, is you need air tickets to get to many vacation destinations. They are the transportation, not the vacation.
Cheap will remain, well….cheap. While the dictionary defines cheap as inexpensive, it also defines it as something of poor quality or shoddy. Continue to be cautious about anything advertised as cheap, supercheap, ultracheap, etc. A fantastically cheap vacation is not a good value if it is actually craptastic (this is our official industry word for cheap vacations!). Everyone wants good value and that’s where we help – get the best value for your money that actually gets the vacation experience you are looking for. Will it be cheap? We certainly hope not.
The best things in travel continue to come to those who plan ahead. For example, how about planning 2017? You may not be ready yet, but we are. We have 2 special group options worth considering.
Join us in January 2017 for our GetAway on the Getaway. We will do all the following: go down the highest water slides at sea, attend award-winning Broadway shows, experience Iron Chef dining, walk the plank and be endlessly entertained and pampered. Book now and choose between Free unlimited drinks, Free Specialty Dining, Free Shore Excursions or Free WiFi.
In September 2017 we will be hosting a very special Wines of Western Europe group on the Azamara Journey. Beginning in England, we will sail to France, Spain and Portugal. Azamara specializes in unique itineraries that include overnight stays in many ports. Our group will be in Bordeaux, one of the world’s foremost wine regions for 3 days. But that is not the only World Heritage region we will visit – see our web page for all the details.