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What Do You Know About Portuguese Wine?

You probably know nothing, which is why Twin Cities Wine Geek Week is for you


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Rooster holding a wine glass with its foot

Courtesy Twin Cities Wine Education

When you think of Portugal, what comes to mind? Sandy Beaches? Castles? Cod? Maybe nothing comes to mind? If you had told me five years ago that we'd be having a tasting of more than 60 Portuguese wines I would have laughed and asked why anyone would show up to taste that many $6 bottles of Vinho Verde.

Jason Kallsen runs Twin Cities Wine Education: He does classes for drinkers like you and me, consulting for liquor stores and restaurants, and also builds wine programs (he does Red Cow and Red Rabbit). Ten years ago, he brainstormed the idea of doing a "Wine Geek Week," an entire week focused on seminars, tastings, information on tourism and travel—all designed to go deep into the wines of one region. He had a regular gig at the time (working for a wine distributor) and couldn't do it. But now, through his Wine Education business, it makes sense.

Monday August 14, at Black Dog Lowertown, you can taste way more than Vinho Verde and Port. (Tickets available: $44 includes tasting and food from Black Dog.) For the first time in Minnesota, you'll be able to taste Portuguese Sparkling wine, which should be cool. But the climate of Portugal lends itself to all sorts of interesting whites, roses, and reds. Don't get me wrong; I love the slight effervescence of vinho verde, and can't wait to try the lineup from Aphros Wine, but I'm intrigued by the Altano Douro Red, which uses Touriga Franca, Tinat Roriz, and Tinta Barroca grapes—very traditional for Portugal. There's this cool collaboration of three winemakers called M.O.B., bringing their 2013 Tinto wine. There will be Port and Madiera as well.

There's also a cool dinner Tuesday night, August 15, at Bonicelli Kitchen ($75 includes food, wine, tax, and tip).

This event is just another example of the excitement happening in the Twin Cities wine space. Leslee Miller, the owner of Amusee Wine, just launched her national wine club called Sip Better (I'll be trying it out and I'll share more in the coming weeks and months). Sip Better ships a tasting kit, and you decide which wine you like best, which unlocks Leslee's future selections for you based on tasting indicators. And she doesn't send the bulk wine with a label unique to the club; she sends excellent wines from family-owned wineries that you could actually find in normal liquor stores.

It's a great time to love wine, especially here in Minnesota!

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