Five years in the making, the World of Wine is, as the name suggests, a homage to all of the elements that go into producing your favourite tipple. The 55,000sqm site sits just below the famous Yeatman Hotel, with an expansive square at its heart and spectacular views down to the Douro river and the Dom Luís I Bridge. It’s been built sympathetically using the old port wine cellars; unsurprisingly, you can’t get far from port in Porto nor from the English names that abound due to the trade.
World of Wine is the brainchild of the Fladgate Partnership – owners of well-known port brands like Taylor’s and Croft alongside several hotels in Portugal – and houses a raft of different experiences, eateries and a wine school... the list goes on. Instead of producing a list of all, the below are distinct highlights of the trip and can probably teach the most well-versed oenophile a thing or two.
Things to see and do
The Wine Experience is a fascinating walk through the winemaking process and appeals to both amateur and expert. It takes you from root to vine and finally onto your palate, digging into the elements that affect the final drink across terroir and process and provides an introduction to Portugal’s many and varied wine regions. It engages on a multi-sensory level; a particularly interesting highlight is huge photographs of wine glasses filled with different ingredients to represent flavour profiles – rather obvious in a way but we rarely visualise such a thing.
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Planet Cork is probably the most surprising of all the things to see at World of Wine. A museum about cork wouldn’t typically make the long list, let alone the short list; however, this is a real eye-opener – from the way cork is grown and harvested, treated, graded and turned into that which we pull out and throw away without a second thought. And perhaps that is what’s so great about this – one has never even thought about what it takes to get that disposable guy in your bottle. Lots to learn here – did you know cork has been to Mars? It’s used as insulation on deep space shuttles.
The jewel in the crown at World of Wine is The Bridge Collection; a large exhibit of drinking vessels and paraphernalia dating back 9,000 years and crossing the planet with unique, quirky and interesting pieces collected by Adrian Bridge, CEO of the Fladgate Partnership. It’s an education to see how drinking rites and rituals are shared around the world and to witness their evolution realised through these objects. It’s fun, too, to imagine who might have been sipping from these cups, horns, bowls, glasses and urns at social gatherings over the millennia. Thirsty work.
From wine to chocolate
There are 12 restaurants, bars and cafes around the site – though if local food is what you’re after, you’d be better heading across the river to take in some authentic Portuguese staples.
That said, World of Wine has its own fantastic chocolate mini-factory. It has a brilliant museum with some wonderful ancient Central and South American artefacts and goes on the journey from bean to bar. It’s the small touches that really make the whole of World of Wine stand out – in this case, the sounds of the jungles where cacao pods are harvested provides a welcome, enticing backdrop. At the end of the museum you’ll find the small factory where they produce the Vinte Vinte chocolate brand using remarkable and unusual beans from around the world. With a nod to wine, head chocolatier Pedro Martins Araújo has developed a Grand Cru series of bars made from ultra rare and unusual beans for a unique, luxury tasting experience.
There’s also a Fashion & Fabric museum dedicated to Porto’s contribution to la mode, a rather verbose journey through the ages of the city and the Instagram-friendly Pink Palace, a shrine to the summer favourite, rosé.
How to book
At the time of writing, tourist numbers have been impacted due to Covid; this means you’ll get lots of the museums to yourself (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love that?) and the whole place is expansive, airy and well-ventilated. World of Wine is a must visit for those with even a passing interest in plonk.
World of Wine, Rua do Choupelo 39, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Portugal. Tickets from £24; wow.pt
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