Wednesday, October 03, 2012


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I've been on holiday. As usual when I get back here I don't talk about bookish stuff because my mind's been on holiday too. Let's talk about something else

They call it Nectar of the Gods. Wine. Or – dare I say it – Portuguese wine.

I would take a bet that if you’ve never been to Portugal then I’ve had wines you’ve never heard of. You see, many vineyards here are so small that they only produce for the domestic market. But these are some of the best, and the cheapest.

Picture this: you’re sitting by the ocean in the sun having a lunch of amêijoas a bulhão pato – clams cooked in garlic, coriander and lemon juice – or a dish of fresh king prawns and you’re washing it all down with a refreshing vinho verde. Yes that is green wine which is a young, lightly sparkling and slightly dry wine that is stronger than you think! Try the Alvarinho green wine which is white. That last sentence isn’t as daft as it sounds because there’re red vinho verdes and also rosé - which are deliciously fruity.

The sun’s getting lower, because you have to take time over your food, and you’ve just enjoyed a freshly caught roubalo (seabass) baked in a hard casing of salt – and, no, the fish isn’t at all salty once the case is broken. The white flesh will melt on your tongue, accompanied by a cold white Planalto from the Douro. Finally, why not enjoy your creamy Portuguese cheese for dessert with a rich Ervideira wine which is described on its website ( as a dark red wine, with notes of plum, wild fruit and spices. Soft in the mouth, with a notorious, elegant structure and a persistent finish. (That sounds pretty sensuous, doesn't it? Oh boy, I'm back in writing mode.)

After watching the sunset you’ll wind your way home in a very happy frame of mind. Guaranteed.