At Monverde Wine Experience Hotel which rests adjacent to the small village of Telões amidst vineyards and surrounded by chestnut and oak trees and groves of eucalyptus, the table was set. At first light, roosters crow from across the hilltops announcing the arrival of sun. Cool late September mornings give way to hot afternoons followed by gourmet, but affordable, dinners overlooking the valleys and under the stars. How to make this bit of respite even better? Schedule the wine tasting, of course.
We arrived at 5pm and the table was set for our scheduled tasting. Five different bites of snacks ranging from smoked salmon to chocolate to accompany five different wines from the surrounding Quinta da Lixa vineyards. Pedro, our guide, and we began our discussions in Portuguese but switched to English to achieve full understanding. The tasting began as the wind gently loosed chestnuts from their branches to rain down around us.
The first, a Loureiro Vinho Verde, followed by a blend. Discussions of production processes gave way to discussions of traveling Portugal to places to visit in the United States. Healthy pours and slight bites smoothed out any rough edges from the day as the sun slowly sank beyond the vineyard with its final warmth landing on our faces.
A touriga nacional Rose followed the blend, followed by a dry espumante. Chocolate accompanies the final taste of a thick and hearty red served in a sipping cup, not a glass, as this one is to be consumed when it’s cold and days are short and nights are dark.
Pedro adjourns back to the main hotel, leaving us with the remaining bottles, to continue to taste, test and try. A tour group arrives and watches us appreciatively, with an enticement of things to come. As the evening turns colder, we slip back to our room to order dinner in, having capped our stay perfectly.