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The Literary Side of Port Wine

Early this year, while teaching children full time, I made a brazen attempt at committing to reading a half-dozen Iberian wine books by the end of the summer. And as much as my heart was in the right place, I was hardly successful. In hind site, our recent Sherry adventure taught me an invaluable lesson: I am a hand’s on girl. When we went to Jerez, I had the rare opportunity to combine theory with practice. For me, when learning about a new subject, I want to touch it, breathe it and taste it. To merely read a book without having the physical connection, quite frankly, bores me. I can’t connect. In Jerez, however, I dove into Sherry wine for five days feverishly learning about the Solera system and coming out of the seminar more interested in the topic than when I first walked in the door. I even went so far as to carry the stupidly heavy hardcover book provided by the DO in my carry-on bag just so I could review the information on our way back to Barcelona. That’s passion!

Now, dedicating November to Port, I have decided to, once again, merge theory with practice by reading Richard Mayson’s book, “Port and the Douro”. Mayson retells the story of Port over the centuries, poetically intertwining his personal experience of interacting with the region and the people to the vines themselves.

“It is easy to be possessive about the Douro. Deep valleys, tiny villages and remote quintas engender a strong sense of place among those who live and work there. Ask someone where they come from and they will tell you, with great pride, the name of the povoação or hamlet where their family live. This, they wills state emphatically, is minha terra (“my land”).”

How could I not fall in love with this book? His writing is absolutely beautiful, capturing the smallest of detail with words of inspiration, grief and hope. So far, I’ve read only a fourth of the book, tackling a chapter a night, and have reached the moment where Mayson speaks of the remarkable physical conditions of the Douro valley. And from the few pages I have covered so far, I am absorbed!

I’ll keep you abreast as I go along, keying you in to some Port worthy news as I go along. If anyone else has either read the book or have other books you might recommend for this month, please share them! And, if you would like to support Catavino by purchasing Port and the Douro through us and reading along with me, we’d love your company!

From a personal standpoint, I am cognizant that taking on a single subject book can be daunting, and many times, result in a rather tedious and drawn out text. I’d really appreciate your thoughts on single subject wine books that you have enjoyed and would recommend to others.


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