© 2024, Randy Mosher

Pictured above, sunrise in Porto, the view from our hotel window. Situated along the Douro River estuary in northern Portugal, beautiful Porto is one of the oldest European centers. Port wine, one of Portugal’s most famous exports, is named after the city as its metropolitan area is the heart of the packaging, transport, and export of this world-famous fortified wine.

Recently my wife Nancy and I had the occasion to visit lovely Portugal and spend a little time enjoying its scenic and gustatorial delights.

Douro Valley, the wine region nearest Porto. It’s actually quite a challenge to wrap your head around Portuguese table wines (as opposed to Port), as they use about two dozen varietals, most of them quite unfamiliar, with the exception of Alvarinho, which is the same as the Spanish Albariño. Interestingly table wines were not much of a thing in Portugal until about the 1970s. Today, the quality is excellent and the prices are reasonable. A lot of the cutting-edge research I’ve been reading for my book on taste is being led by Portuguese scientists.

On to Lisbon and environs. Pictured here, dining on the cliff above the ocean in Ericeira, Portugal, about 40 minutes northwest of Lisbon. Lunch was a whole sea bass, picked from a tray of whole, fresh fish, then split and grilled. Best meal of the trip! It also included boiled Portuguese potatoes which are famously tasty, a kind of savory bread pudding with fish eggs, plus broccolini, octopus, olives and a fish paté.

Ericeira is a gorgeous little town, quite chill and picturesque—whitewashed buildings with colorful trim. Supposed to be very good surfing, too.

We were invited to visit a local brewery, 5 e Meio (five and a half—based on the average percentage of alcohol in a beer). Some time before, they had brewed a crazy recipe from my Radical Brewing book and wanted to share it. It was a really strong barley wine based on an old English practice of doubling up the mash. 

I’m joined here by the owner, Teófio Olivera, and his architect wife (right side), along with (from left) his business partner, a Portuguese beer blogger, and another brewer from Ericeira. Great hospitality in their matchbox of a taproom, and very tasty beers. It was great to taste my barley wine recipe after all these years!