On Saturday morning, my father, the girls, my husband and I drove up to Northern Portugal to visit the Douro region of Portugal. Specifically, the port wine caves (cellars) of Vila Nova de Gaila.
For indepth information on Port, Wikipedia does has a decent overview and I encourage you to read this page here to familiarize yourself (and it saves this post from being overly lengthly).
Very brief, however, port wine is sweet wine, higher in alcohol than most wines. It is mostly a dessert wine (goes great with chocolate truffles). Some types of port, white and tawny, are served as an appertif .
I like to throw port into homemade marinara sauce and/or jazz up jarred marinara sauce with a tablespoon or two. I have also made chocolate truffles with it (Google for more recipes). I do, often, replace my cookie or sweet craving with a couple of ounces of port after dinner instead. Yum!
Port wine maturing in wooden Barrels
It would be a dream to visit all of the Douro region, stopping off not only at Port wine quintas, but also quintas of some of the other wines produced in the region (Portugal produces some decent red and white wines and excellent Vinho Verde wines). However, such dreams cannot always be fufilled when you have toddlers. This trip was unusually challenging in that the girls each displayed undesirable and unagreeable behavior (brief, curse-free version) - so much so that we ended our trip a day early.
Despite chaos with the children and my camera settings getting switched around so that many of our pictures came out blurry, we had a really good time (and, if the opportunity presented itself, I would go back).
We took an early evening walking tour (much of the city appearing poor, with run down housing complexes and litter), a short boat tour down the Doura river, a wine tasting at Croft (I enjoyed the new pink port), lunch and a white port sampling at Taylors, and, finally, a tour (and tasting) at Sandeman.
It's easy to find port around here and, unless you're looking for vintage port, it's not to expensive. So, I only bought two bottles over the weekend. Now that I know what to look for, I will try to figure out how I can get a stash back to the States when we move next summer!
Dad aquiring a taste for port (he thinks it's too sweet) at Croft
I am, however, grateful, every day, that my family and I get to see the amount that we do. I really try hard not to think about all the things I could have done if the children were with a sitter. It's so easy to get into the self-pity frame of mind and, at times, I do lose my patience with the girls and become selfish. I have to mentally "check" myself or have my husband remind me when I'm acting like a selfish brat (guilty of this quite often, I'll admit it!).
In retrospect, despite unexpected changes, illness, bad behavior and even canceling of plans, don't we all remember many of the good times, on trips, we've had with our children!