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Port tasting in Oporto, Portugal

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My husband and I are going to be visiting Oporto, Portugal for one day this summer and we want to do a tasting. There are a considerable number of port houses in a centralized area in the city but I don't know enough about port to know which house/s to visit based on quality. (I realize the samples offered as part of the tour will be the lowest grade, but I've read that, for a fee, many of the houses offer tastes of their vintage port.)

The following brands have facilities in the city of Oporto, although I don't know if all of them have public tasting rooms and/or tours:
Grahams
Ferreria
Ramos-Pinto
Sandeman
Noval
Calem
Wiese & Krohn
Offley
Cockburn
Burmester
Fonseca
Barros
Taylor's
Rozes
Real Companhia Velhia

Please recommend one or two brands to try based on the quality of the port itself. Things like free tastings VS paid tastings or the availability of a tour are not factors, although comments about personal experience visiting any of these places are welcome.

Finally, there's a Wine Institute in the city that offers for-a-fee tastings of wine and port from all the Duoro-area labels. If we decide to go that route, does anyone have any recommendations for must-taste ports regardless of label?

Lots of questions, but we hope to get the most out of our visit to Oporto. Thanks!

(Originally posted in Spirits, but a kind 'Hound recommended I try this board.)

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  1. There are public tasting facilities that are 'consolidators' (i.e. retail stores that serve multiple brands so tasting is not a problem.

    When I went to Oporto my main focus was on trying as many houses as I could that do not get distribution where I live (the U.S.). Typically family-run 'micro port producers' if you will. It was fascinating. The quality varied widely but the friendliness was universal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: achalk

      Could you give me a list of the micro port producers that you think are worth checking out? We will be in Porto in September.
      Thanks
      Rick Tomb

    2. Fonseca and Graham in my experience, but that's for vintage ports.

      1. Also, stuff you find at home will taste the same in Oporto. Port doesn't suffer during transit.

        1. If what you want to do is taste a lot of different Ports, I'd go to the Port Wine Institute - Rua Ferreira Borges, 27 - 4050-116 Porto. In Portugese it is Loja de Vinhos do Douro e do Porto. It is only open Monday through Friday.

          We went to the one in Lisbon and enjoyed ourselves greatly and tasted lots of great Ports. Of course they try to sell you the wines too, but it is very convenient.