Tasting Mediterranean

Wine & Olive Oil

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Portugal is well known for its authentic native cuisine and its multifoliate wealth of native wines, as well as for being a beloved holiday destination. But how many people know about the Alentejo?

The Alentejo is one of Portugal’s five component regions, and occupies more than a third of its continental area. The region is situated south of the Tejo, the longest river of the Iberian Penin- sula (Alen-tejo translated means ’beyond the Tejo‘, in English occasionally called the Tagus River).

Alentejo is often referred to informally as the ‘breadbasket of Portugal’. In some areas, its fertile soils are ideal for the culti- vation of wheat, while on the more meagre hillsides olive trees, cork oaks and grapevines are planted. These plants are essen- tially less demanding than wheat! Some 20% of Portugal’s wine and almost 70% of Portugal’s olive oil are produced here in the Alentejo, and the region is the world’s largest producer of cork.

For residents of the Alentejo, the Mediterranean Lifestyle is lived on a daily basis. So it’s easy to understand: Alentejano red wines can be said to be so warm-hearted, so generous and so relaxed as the folks who life there. It is also said that the wealth of a citizen of the Alentejo consists not so much of money and possessions, but rather his/her humanity, composure and generosity – this is what tips the balance on the scales of life.

Conviviality is the one quality that ultimately comes to characterise the Mediterranean way of living practised by the people of the Alentejo.

One gets to know them quickly, visiting the region as a tourist. It’s not very long before somebody has invited you to have a glass of wine. And then the glass of wine develops into sharing a meal – and by the end of the day one has made many new friends.