My adopted home city, Bristol, and the 2nd largest city in Portugal, Oporto, have been trading partners for more than 2 centuries, particularly in wine and port. Some 70 years ago, this partnership was cemented by Bristol and Porto (as the locals know it) formally becoming twin cities and, until the outbreak of Covid, a thriving Twinning Association existed, arranging events and exchange visits. Sadly, official restrictions and subsequent caution stopped all that until last week, when we were able to meet once again for a Quiz night at a local pub (although one that didn’t sell any Portuguese wine!)
Amazingly, the team my wife and I were part of managed (somehow) to win and our prize was – of course – bottles of Portuguese wine. We decided to defer opening them until we could all meet up again, but thoughts of Portugal meant that I chose a Douro red that I had bought previously to enjoy with our dinner the next day.
It was a complete coincidence that the name of the wine I selected was Beira Douro (Grape and Grind, £14.50), as Beira (a city in Mozambique) is also twinned with Bristol although, as far as I know, that Beira has no connection to the wine. A deeply coloured blend of 2 Portuguese grapes, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional, packed with lovely raspberry and crunchy redcurrant flavours with a long dry finish. Even though our bottle was already over 5 years old, there was still noticeable tannin in the wine, but decanting and teaming it with a juicy venison steak softened that and made it a really harmonious and delicious mouthful.
Twinning is a great way to explore other cultures and traditions and, when it can be celebrated with some wine from a twinned city, so much the better.