You can’t go to Porto without having some port, right?!
The Graham’s 1890 Lodge
After visiting the markets and train station, we decided to check out one of the famed port wine cellars that line the Douro river. We settled on Graham’s Port Lodge not only because of the great reviews, but also the views. My gosh. The views!
We opted to Uber up to the top of the hill where Graham’s is nestled. While the walk isn’t totally out of control, I’d save yourself the trek and make a mental note to take a leisurely stroll along the river at another point in your trip. This will ensure that you aren’t too tired to take in the stunning scenery and tasty treats that Graham’s has to offer!
Still a working port cellar, Graham’s offers a few different options through which you can enjoy the experience. We opted to tour the cellars and follow that up with a tasting in The Tasting Room (though if you’re feeling a bit swish you can go for a private tasting). The tour for two people plus a tasting for one (we decided to split a tasting as it was early in the day and there was a lot of wine left to be enjoyed on our trip!) came to under €25, which felt like a great price for the experience.
You start out in the museum, where you can see the history of the Graham and Symington families and how they came together to bring us the modern-day Graham’s. If you get there early enough before your tour, you can linger here, seeing the famous faces who have enjoyed Graham’s Port (including President Obama and The Queen) and various artifacts from the cellars history. But, there’s also a short film shown before the tour that will fill you in on all the details in case that isn’t a possibility.
Once you’re done with that, you enter the cellars. Cool, dark, and brimming with history, they immediately offer up the markings of care and skill that go into making their port wines.
Near the end of the tour, you’re taken through the family’s private cellar where your guide encourages you to look for your birth year. If you see it in this cellar, you know that that was a good year for port grapes!
Vinum Restaurant and Wine Bar
After we rounded our tour out with a tasting, it was time to loosen our belts and head over to Vinum Restaurant and Wine Bar. Small tip: if you’re planning on doing this, make sure that you pop into the restaurant before your tour to make a reservation, especially on busy days.
We settled in with our friends who arrived a bit before us and ordered ahead and proceeded to indulge in some of the yummiest food, bubbles, and port on the planet.
Side note: I tend to not eat Jamaican food unless it’s made by me or a member of my family. I’ve put a halt on ordering from our local Jamaican place because the one delivery driver they seem to have kept showing up high and with something that was an approximation of our order, but not quite right. So, when I saw ox tail on the menu at Vinum I wiggled my eyebrow at my sister and asked if we should, against my better judgement, take the risk and see how the Portuguese do ox tail.
I am so glad that we tried this dish! It was like they had my grandma back there in the kitchen, making it just for us. It was absolutely delicious, which came as no surprise seeing as everything we ordered (from the sausage to the samosas) was incredible. I honestly could have stayed there all day and ordered tapas-style treats until they rolled me out, down the hill, and back to our hotel.
After food it was time for – shock – another tasting! Waiters rolled out a beautiful display of ports and everyone happily sipped while we were given a bit more history about the cellar as well as knowledge about the specific ports that we were trying.
In all, it was an absolutely lovely afternoon out. We’re making plans to try to head back during the Fall so that we can take part in the harvesting, so this might not be the last you’ve heard of Graham’s!