After sipping Alvarinho with Miguel at Vale dos Ares, completing a mega wine tasting at Quinta de Pedra, and enjoying a luxury lunch with Chef Marco at Convento dos Capuchos, I was ready for a nap. Francisco had one more stop planned, though, for a final wine tasting in Minho, Portugal. For our last stop we met another Miguel, the general manager of the Hotel Monte Prado.
I was fading fast, felt exhausted, and was stuffed to the brim from our lunch with Chef Marco. I kind of wanted to crawl back into our bed at Hotel Minho. But, we were at Miguel’s property to taste a little more wine, an enjoy an aperitif. I didn’t think I could stomach any more food, and even felt myself wanting to say no to wine. That doesn’t happen too often.
After a quick tour of the property, we made our way to the rooftop of the hotel. Hotel Monte Prado is located in Melgaço, one of the two regions of the Alto Minho where the Alvarinho grape is produced. Set within a forest, and with the Galician mountains in the backdrop, the hotel had an amazing rustic view. Even the hotel rooms had stunning views of the dense trees through floor to ceiling windows. We were not there, though, to stay at Hotel Monte Prado. Instead, we were there to eat and to finish up our wine tasting in Minho.
Wine Tasting in Minho on the Rota das Tapas
Hotel Monte Prado is part of the Rota das Tapas e Alvarinho, which includes stops throughout Melgaço. In Portuguese, small plates of tasty food are actually referred to as pestiscos, and not tapas, as they are known in Spain. But, the hospitality industry in Melgaço realized that the foreigners know tapas more than pestiscos, and just went with it. To me, that’s some pretty smart marketing. Cater to your audience.
The Rota das Tapas e Alvarinho, includes a map of several producers who each offer a tapa, plus a glass of Alvarhinho for 4 Euros. Miguel offered us a taste of several tapas, along with wine, of course.
There were a few things going through my mind as we started this tasting. I already mentioned how tired I was. This is one of the main reasons why I took so few photos of this experience. I also fell asleep on the job, and didn’t even write down what we ate. So, I can show you no photos of the views, and I cannot tell you exactly what we ate.
But, there was another reason I have so few photos to share. Once we started chatting with Miguel, and our tour guide Francisco, the conversation flowed, more easily than the wine. For a moment, I became lost in the experience and forgot I was working.
And, as often happens during these meet ups, the more we talked, the more food arrived. It is often the case, whether it is wine tasting in Alentejo, or luxury dining in Catalunya, that a winemaker, or chef, or manager, figures he will offer us a little taste of their wine or food. Then, they start talking to us, and more and more wine and food are quickly ordered.
Now, I don’t believe it is because we are the most fascinating people on earth. But, we pride ourselves on being personable, and asking questions to show our interest in hearing peoples’ stories. More often than not, though, they want to hear our story, of our travels, and the lifestyle we lead. We also tend to quickly bond over a shared passion: food and wine.
This was just such the case with Miguel at Hotel Monte Prado. Yes, he wanted to talk with us about wine tasting in Minho, his hotel, and the Rota das Tapas e Alvarinho. Yes, he wanted us to share something nice about the region with our readers, to encourage people to visit. But, in the end, we just talked and talked, until it was almost dark.
During our chat, a large umbrella blew over and almost flew off the rooftop. Together, we kept it from hurting anyone down below at the pool, which would surely have been a surprise to the sunbathers below, trying to enjoy the last bit of warmth from the sun. Miguel joked that we had earned our wine for the night, but he didn’t let it slow us down. The wine kept pouring, and the tapas kept arriving.
These are the types of experiences that often surprise us. When we arrived at Hotel Monte Prado, we were tired and ready to call it a night. Within a few hours, we had made new friends. Even Francisco commented that, normally on a tour, he escorts his guests to the roof top and allows them to enjoy their time alone, to give them space. But, after spending the day with us, he just wanted to talk more.
This was my key takeaway from our wine tasting in Minho. Yes, the wine was much better than the cheap Vinho Verde I had drank before in Lisbon. Yes, the scenery in the mountains was beautiful. But, what really struck me, and why we will most likely be returning to Minho again, was just how friendly the people we met were. They all share a common passion, for their wines, and the region, and want to share this passion with others.
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We were hosted by Hotel Minho on our Vinho Verde wine tasting experience with Bliss Tours, but all views are my own. Tours with Francisco and Bliss Tours start at 190 Euros for up to 3 persons. Our tour included a visit to Vale dos Ares, a larger wine company called Quinta de Pedra, lunch at the Hotel Convento dos Capuchos, and a tapas and wine tasting at Hotel Monte Prado. (Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about Monte Prado at TripAdvisor.)
It was a pretty full day. Francisco works with other wine tourism partners, including some other hotels, to create unique experiences wine tasting in Minho.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.