For a small country, Portugal packs a lot of grape vines. There are 13 different wine regions in total, if you count the exotic islands of Madeira and The Azores. And why wouldn’t you? With each region offering its own dazzling array of wines, the more there are to visit, the better. Since you probably can’t experience all 13 in one trip (at least without dying of euphoria), hit two of the regions that have brought the country on the map of some of the world’s best wines: Douro and Alentejo.
To the north, Douro, famed for its production of the sweet dessert Port and other wines, offers a spectacular landscape of unbelievably steep hillsides covered with vines and, here and there, wine-producing farms called quintas. Making the trip by car will allow you to visit the wineries, spend a night or two in one of the quintas or even join in the grape harvest en route. The valley itself is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.
The Alentejo region itself is huge and rural, with vast plains of wheat, cork oaks and olives stretching into the distance. The hot Mediterranean climate yields many easy-drinking wines, especially reds. And while it’s only in recent decades that the region has grown in international prominence, its viticulture history goes all the back to the ninth century BC. Estates like Adega José de Sousa and Herdade do Rocim even produce a type of wine called Vinho de Talha, which is made in huge clay pots using a technique that dates back all the way to ancient Rome.
If you get hungry while on the trail, pair your Alentejo red with one of the region’s beloved traditional dishes — like ‘porco preto’, succulent pork from free-roaming Iberian black pigs.