And so on this rainy Sunday morning, another busy week has passed by and the season of the “vindima” has come and gone. During this time of year in Portugal, red and green grapes of endless varieties, including my favorite Muscatel, reach their peak of sweetness. A clear sign that they are ready to be snipped from the vines, crushed, stirred and boiled to transform into delicious Portuguese wine. Almost every home you visit will offer you a glass of homemade wine at every meal, be it from their own fruit or from another relative. It’s a long, tedious but rewarding process of making your own wine, port wine or our version of wine brandy.
This tradition is one that has been in my family for as long as I have known, and it is one very dear to my heart. Yes, I would consider myself a wine connoisseur fairing a wine tasting paired with some artisan cheeses and freshly baked bread over a night out on the town, but it is because wine holds so many memories for me. As the years pass swiftly, I often think who in my generation will grab those snippers, navigate through thorny bushes just to get the right “cacho” and end the day with purple stained hands…
It makes me sad that our society has lost that connection to the land, well because our demanding lives just don’t allow for it. Little by little I want to change that, even if it means planting a flower. When I envision my life years from now I see a beautiful garden overflowing with flowers, fruits, vegetables but above all vines of juicy grapes to remind me of the family traditions I grew up knowing.
It’s a long process of allowing the darker grapes to sit, boil, and expand for a few nights before the liquid, which will become wine, is extracted into “pipos” where it will boil for months. When the raging bubbling simmer down, around mid January, the wine is ready to be bottled and enjoyed alongside a hearty toasted slice of grandma’s bread topped with fresh cheese, slices of juicy figs and a drizzle of honey.
As the cooler months approach, our concern turns to the olive, as they ripen into the dark salty treats we know and love. And so begins the other grueling process of making “azeite“, olive oil, another of Portugal’s historic traditions.