Snapshots from Portugal: White Port and Tonic

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[Photograph: Steen Hanssen]

The Douro river flows from North-Central Spain into Northern Portugal and has its outlet in the city of Porto. On the Portuguese side the river flows through the Douro Valley, which has a 2000 year history cultivating wine grapes, olives, and almonds. This is the heart of port country.

When you think of port, you may first think of the rich red fortified wine, often served after a meal. But White Port, made from white grapes, is relatively cheap and often used in punch bowls and predinner cocktails. During a recent visit to Lisbon I had the pleasure of being introduced to a fantastic sun-downer that my generous host called P&T (Port and Tonic), based of course on the more famous G&T (Gin & Tonic).

A highball glass with ice cubes is filled with one part White Port and two parts tonic water. Throw in some lemon wedges (freshly harvested from the garden, of course) and enjoy. This is a most refreshing cocktail—a little bitter and a little sweet—perfect for pairing with the local sheep's milk cheese, Azeitao. Due to the low alcohol content, you can easily indulge in a few refills and still be ready for dinner.

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