I’ve just written something for the Spectator on Oporto. I was there to research my book as a guest of Sandeman port. At the time my daughter had chicken pox and I kept on getting messages from my wife saying what a terrible time they were both having. I tried to play down how much fun I was having but these photos will demonstrate that I wasn’t being entirely truthful:


Oporto at night. One of the most beautiful sights in the world.


These barges used to carry port wine down the Douro.I was lucky enough to be there for the annual boat race where the port houses race these boats, extremely slowly, down the Douro. It’s like snail racing. The crews are largely Portuguese but the atmosphere of competitiveness dressed up as jovial amateurishness is pure England.  Some crews take it seriously. We didn’t, came third and drank some spectacular old port, Sandeman 1935.



Me sporting Sandeman crew T-shirt looking totally nautical and drinking port.


Where the grapes are grown. It’s only 100 miles from the city but feels like a different world. Oporto is cool and foggy, here it’s baking hot.


Finally our host George Sandeman, descendant of the original George Sandeman who founded the company in 1790. That thing round his neck is a polished silver port dish that was traditionally used by merchants to assess the colour and therefore the quality of the port wine they were buying.

All photos courtesy of Sérgio Ferreira. 

About Henry

Henry Jeffreys was born in London. He has worked in the wine trade, publishing and is now a freelance journalist. He specialises in drink and his work has appeared in the Spectator, the Guardian, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Oldie and Food & Wine magazine. He was a contributor to the Breakfast Bible (Bloomsbury 2013) and his book Empire of Booze: British History through the Bottom of a Glass was published in November 2016.
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