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Portraits of wine

Although my statement made elsewhere that Porto does not boast must-see museums is correct in the literal sense, it could be argued that the World of Wine complex in Vila Nova de Gaia is entirely worth checking out. Opened in the midst of the pandemic in 2020, the commercial-and-entertainment complex incorporates no less than six different exhibitions covering various aspects of viticulture and oenology as well as local history.

Visiting all six museums would likely take an entire day, so I limited myself to just two: the main Wine Experience exhibition and the Porto Region Across the Ages. Each is a captivating deep dive into the subject, with both historic artifacts and modern multimedia tools combining to provide a close-to-immersive experience.

I was not carrying my big camera on that day – nor do I usually take a lot of pictures inside museums. But one section of the Wine Experience practically demanded being captured for posterity. It presented a gallery of delightful personifications of wine varietals. Each portrait is accompanied by plenty of additional information, but it’s the portraits themselves that are the stars of the show. Here is a small sampler.

Cabernet Sauvignon rather aptly is Napoleon Bonaparte.
World of Wine, Porto
Chardonnay had to be Louis XIV.
World of Wine, Porto
Riesling appears as a Kaiser attended to by Herr Kabinett, Fraulein Trocken, Junge Spätlese, and Herr Beerenauslese.
World of Wine, Porto
Nebbiolo is, of course, Luciano Pavarotti.
World of Wine, Porto
Sangiovese is an ancient Roman, somewhat unintuitively pictured with a falcon near a medieval town.
World of Wine, Porto
The dual nature of Syrah/Shiraz is rather directly represented by both a fashionable Parisienne and an Australian surfer.
World of Wine, Porto
Malbec, of course, is a tango dancer.
World of Wine, Porto
Pinot Noir is a send-off to the Film Noir genre by appearing as a gumshoe.
World of Wine, Porto
Tempranillo takes a different route, expressing its nature as a bodega full of regulars.
World of Wine, Porto
Alvarinho (we are probably more familiar with its Spanish twin Albariño) is a Romani on a picnic by the beach.
World of Wine, Porto
There were many more, including the well-known ones (merlot, pinot grigio, etc.) and quite a few I have not really tried before (encruzado, alicante bouschet) – I very much regret not making an effort to capture every single portrait. But even this limited selection will hopefully entice the wine aficionados in my audience to stop by the World of Wine when in Porto.

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