The wines of Portugal are fantastic and still very underrated in the “wine drinking” world today. Of course, this excludes Somm’s and Wine Professionals, but the general consumer (you lovely readers) don’t get to try as many, or don’t think to try as many of these wonderful wines.
Recently I was dining with Domingos Soares Franco, Chief Winemaker for José Maria da Fonseca. Many of you know Fonseca Port Wine, however this particular winery is completely different.
Domingos is smart, witty, and very funny. Dining with him, hearing his wine stories, and drinking his wine was like dining with an old friend; his energy is infectious.
Portugal has over 250 grape varietals, Domingos explains, “I think it’s important to work on those grape varietals, as opposed to planting others”. Tiñto Cao and Tannat are his “Salt and Pepper” grape varietals, which are used in blends to give you a nice “punch” on the palate (in wine lingo… this is a good thing).
The Fourth in Union Square, NYC paired the wines with some delicious dishes in one incredible three-course meal. The 2013 Periquita Rosé paired with the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare was a perfect way to start the meal. The tuna was fresh and vibrantly dressed with ginger vinaigrette.
Portuguese reds are striking and fruit forward, with a lot to offer. Ordering the Grilled Sirloin was of course at the top of my list. Alongside the slab of medium rare meat were perfectly roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Salsa Verde. The reds enjoyed with the second course were: 2012 Periquita Original, 2012 Periquita Reserva, 2011 Domingos, 2012 Domini, and a 2011 Domini Plus. My two favorites paired with the sirloin were the 2012 Periquita Reserva and the 2011 Domini Plus. The rest of course paired beautifully, but those were two that won my heart.
The dessert course however, stole the show. Domingos brought two dessert wines. One was the 2004 Moscatel de Setúbalus, which was bright and full of honey and ripe fruit. Paired with this: a Cheese Plate, Figs, and a Fresh Honeycomb, which was out of this world yum! The other dessert wine, since I mentioned two, was a special surprise. A 1955 Moscatel that was one of the best desert wines I have ever had. Petrol, Honey, and Caramel strike your nose as you take a first whiff, while the flavors burst on your palate with sweet fruit and honey. Paired with some Parmesan drizzled with Honey, this was one of my favorite pairings!
You can find many Portuguese wines throughout the city and in your wine shops. Don’t be afraid to try them because they are inexpensive and very food friendly.
Always remember eat what you like and drink what you love!